Strategy takes Mason girls cross country team to championships

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Mason Cross Country Team

Nicole Bush

Mason Bulldogs cross country coach Charles Miller talks with his team about workout specifics.

After missing the state meet by two spots last season, the Mason Bulldogs girls cross country team reached a goal they set more than a year ago to make it to the state finals this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

   Junior Cecilia Stalzer said the team knew coming into the season it had a good group of girls. As the season progressed it started to look like the race to qualify for the state championships might be very close.

“So, at regionals we were just really focused,” Stalzer said. “The whole time we were just focused on getting ourselves ready for the regional meet, to get in as a team.”

“Last year we were OK as a team, and then this year we just kind of realized that we could actually be really good,” Stalzer said.

Coach Charles Miller said the team has been talking about making the state meet, since the end-of-the-season banquet last year.

Cecilia Stalzer

Nicole Bush

Cecilia Stalzer during her warm-up laps.

“They stayed committed to it through the off-season,” said Miller. “So, I knew going into the season we were ready.”

They did have some bumps in the road with a few girls struggling with anemia. But they got it figured out in time, Miller said.

For everyone except Stalzer, this will be their first state finals meet.

Sophomore McLaine Smith said she stepped up her performance at the regional meet by committing to racing next to a teammate she wouldn’t normally be up with. It paid off and she ended up running 20:37, a personal best by 28 seconds.  

She said the biggest motivation behind her jump in performance was making it to the state finals as a team.

Since this will be the first time most of the girls have been to the state finals, Miller said,

Mason Girls Cross Country Team

Nicole Bush

Mason girls cross country team during their warm-up drills.

“What I’m hoping for them this year is just to have a real good experience, have fun, and get to know that course. Because that entire team comes back [next year].”

Looking forward, Miller said, “I’m hoping next year we can come there and be, you know—I always kind of make big goals—[I’m] actually kind of hoping they’ll be top five.”

Stalzar said she hopes to finish top three this weekend.

The Mason Bulldogs girls cross country team will compete in the division two race at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, at MIS in Brooklyn, Michigan. Admission is $8. Purchase tickets here.