The Grand Ledge Girls Cross Country team came painfully close to qualifying for the state championship meet, finishing in 4th place by a mere 7 points. The top 3 teams qualify for the state finals at the regional meet.
The Comets were paced by regional champion Jenna Magness who dominated the field clocking an impressive time of 18:15, tying her career best time. Jenna will be joined at the state finals by her junior teammate Claudia Baryo who finished 7th overall with her fastest time ever. Claudia ran a very impressive 18:59 over the 5k course, her first time breaking the 19 minute barrier.
“Claudia and Jenna were fantastic today,” said veteran coach Fred Hutchinson. “Jenna just dominated the race. She was in total control and ran a flawless race. I’m happy for her. To be regional champion in her senior year is a great reward for all of her hard work and dedication.
I’m also so very happy for Claudia who narrowly missed out on qualifying as an individual at last year’s regional (top 15 individuals qualify for the state meet from each regional),” Hutchinson said. “She made it her goal a year ago to make it to the state finals this year and she did it.
“Both Claudia and Jenna are great runners and great leaders by example. They are both very deserving of their success this season.”
The Comets also got very strong efforts from the junior duo of Hannah Schaefer and Michaela Donahue.
“Michaela(19:53) ran her best race this season when it mattered the most. She has had an up and down season but today, she really showed how talented she is,” Hutchinson said. “She gave us exactly the kind of race we needed. Just a fantastic effort.
“Hannah (20:18) was super today as well. She has had some injury issues this year that have truncated her training but she has worked hard in cross training and put together a really good season and a heck of a last race today. She really battled hard and gave everything she had. I can’t ask for anything more than that,” added Hutchinson.
The team also got solid efforts from their three up and coming freshmen, Kelsey Kehren (20:50), Megan Schafer(20:50) and Courtney Hughes (21:30).
“These three girls gave really solid efforts today and gained some valuable big race experience,” Hutchinson said. “They will all be instrumental as we move forward next year. We’ll depend on them more and today they showed they will be ready to accept greater challenges and responsibilities next season.”
Jenna and Claudia will close out their cross country career on Saturday, November 5th at the MHSAA state finals. While the girls as a whole were disappointed in narrowly missing the cut as a team, they have had a great season and have much to be proud of and a lot to look forward to next year.