Michigan’s high school cross country teams have entered the home stretch of the 2021 season, with the championship races in both peninsulas to be run over the next three weekends.
For more than two decades, the best girls teams of the Lower Peninsula’s biggest schools have been chasing the 2000 Rockford Rams.
That season was the first of the MHSAA classifying its championship groupings using four equal divisions, and Rockford set a standard that few have approached as we near the completion of the first quarter of the 21st century.
Rockford won the Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship Nov. 4, 2000, at Michigan International Speedway with 35 points – 77 fewer than runner-up Milford and 197 fewer than third-place Troy. Five Rams finished among the top 15 individuals – senior Lindsey Blaisdell third, senior Kalin Toedebusch fourth, sophomore Nicole Bohnsack fifth, sophomore Kelsey Toedebusch ninth and senior Aimee Keenan 15th, which was actually 14th among runners involved in team scoring.
The next lowest Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals score was achieved two seasons later, again by Rockford, with a 57. Four more Lower Peninsula teams have scored in the 30s since the dawn of the divisions era – East Grand Rapids won Division 2 in 2019 with 36 points, while Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart broke Rockford’s LP record winning Division 4 with 34 points in 2016 before coming back to win again with 39 in 2017.
Rockford’s 2000 championship was its third of five straight, which remains the longest Finals title streak in Lower Peninsula history. Bohnsack went on to win the LPD1 individual championships as well in 2001 and 2002 and run collegiately at Penn State. Kalin Toedebusch ran at Colorado, Blaisdell ran at Wisconsin and Keenan ran at Michigan State. The first four of those five straight championship teams were coached by Brad Prins.
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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