Cross country teams thrive at Regionals, make States



Senior Tyler Ristau dives for the finish line to outplace Northern’s Evan Rice by .02 seconds and displace Lakeland to claim Regional Championship by 1 point.

Elise Elliot, Managing Editor

Milford Cross Country is an athletic program bearing an impressive legacy. Over the years, the teams have earned 6 State Championships, 14 Regional Championships since 1989 (boys)  and 13 since 1978 (girls) , 20 Conference Championships since 1959 (boys)  and 18 since 1978 (girls). When it comes to the months of October and November, better known as championship season, the program proves that it is one of the best in the state.

This year’s Regional Championship held on Oct. 30 at Hess Hathaway Park in Waterford, added to the program’s impressive legacy. Both the boys and girls qualified for the State Finals, a feat that was last accomplished in 2018. In MHS history, this is the 49th time the boys have qualified for states and the 34th time the girls have qualified. Both the boys and girls embraced the mud and slippery conditions, determined to place in the top 3; guaranteeing a spot at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI for the Division 1 State Finals.

Girls Regional:

For the girls team, who dealt with multiple injuries and had missed races from many key runners, the 2021 season became all about working towards success in the final meets of the season. From June to November, the Varsity girls have had their minds set on returning to Michigan International Speedway. On Saturday, Oct. 30th at Hess Hathaway Park, the team came in with a level of determination stronger than any all season. “Attitude has been our catalyst,” Coach Brian Salyers said.  “We had the intentional attitude of racing and qualifying. The look in their eyes showed purpose.” The mud and slippery conditions from a week’s worth of rain, literally trapping cars in the grass and creating trenches of mud, weren’t enough to deter them from that purpose. The racers started out fast and packed close together. The second mile, the field spread out with Junior Jacie Remtema securing a spot in 7th place and Junior Grace Harkenrider following close behind. Leah Merriam, Emma Collison, and Brooklyn Wolcott held a tight pack to fight off Fenton and Grand Blanc.  The finish all came down to the kick, fighting for every place. From the gun to the finish line, it was all about grit and grind as each athlete fought for every place. The team of Collison, Elise Elliot, Wolcott, Abigail Schwendenmann, Merriam, Remtema, Grace Harkenrider, Macy Jenkins, and Ellie Nohovig accomplished a runner-up finish, securing them a spot at MIS. Remtema and Harkenrider led the team, earning All-Region honors running a 20:00 and a 20:16 respectively. After an electric race and full of anticipation waiting to see results, the girls cheered on the boys and watched them compete fiercely. Awaiting them in the chute, both boys and girls discovered they had qualified for the State Finals.  “I remember we were standing by the finish line watching the boys come in, and Easton and Ryan announced that the boys team had qualified since they had four runners finish in the top twenty, so they were going and seconds later Elaina Schwendenmann ran up to us and said , ‘You guys got second– you’re going to the state meet!’ We all danced, jumped, cried and celebrated since last year we did not qualify for the State Finals.  It meant a lot to me as a senior and for someone who lost an entire season last year to be able to run at the State Finals  one last time.” recounted Emma Collison. The girls came up close behind Walled Lake Northern and finished ahead of Grand Blanc by a large margin. The girls will continue to make their mark and contribution to the legacy at the State Finals.

Boys Regional: 

Going into the meet, the boys were skeptical of even qualifying for States as the competition was tight for the top 3 places. This of course, made winning the meet and taking home the trophy all the more special. Easton Williams, Ryan O’Rourke, Quaid Schimetz, Thomas Kennedy, Reshaun Crawford, Tyler Ristau, Ryan Carannanto, Brayden Mullins, and Aidan Malik were part of the 2021 Regional Championship team. The course was in muddy and soggy conditions, but that didn’t faze the runners.  “The team ran well in lackluster conditions,” Schimetz said. “When we got there we didn’t worry about the times that we were going to achieve; we were just worried about doing our jobs and running for the necessary places.” In this particular regional,  Lakleand was the favorite and if Milford was to win, every place counted. The gun sounded and the racers went out faster than any so far this season. 400 meters in, the runners were met with a mud puddle, but that was part of the fun. The race spread out in the 2nd mile. During the 3rd mile, it was all about fighting for every place. Senior Tyler Ristau took that in stride and dove into the muddy finish neck and neck with a runner from Walled Lake Northern to fight for one place higher for his team. “I felt like I was losing energy with about 400 to go, but as I went down the hill and heard the crowd and saw that my competitor next to me was struggling I left it all out there,” Ristau recounted, “It was hard through the mud and puddles but I pushed through and me and the Northern kid were side by side and the only way I knew I could beat him was if I reached over the finish line and as I did that I slipped and dove and ended up beating him.” There was a .02 second difference but that .02 secured a displacing spot against Lakeland allowing Milford to win by 1 point and lock Walled Lake Northern in 3rd place. “It was an incredible moment because we achieved our season long goal of qualifying for the state finals, and the regional title was an awesome bonus,” Williams said.  Williams, O’Rourke, Kennedy, and Schimetz all placed in the top 20, earning All-Region Honors.  “We attacked every position and took every place at the finish line and because of that we outscored our seed and came through as the underdog,” Salyers said, Back-to-back regional champs was a big confidence booster for the Milford Cross Country Boys Varsity team and an addition to the impressive legacy of the program.

Division 1 State Meet:

The pinnacle of the season is the State finals held at MIS is an exciting and one-of-a-kind experience. After all, not many can say they ran alongside and walked on a NASCAR track. The course features routes leaving the stadium and along the grounds of the RV sites and land before re-entering the stadium and running the last half mile right next to the racing track on the infield with the towering spectator seating and an enormous crowd to witness. Both the boys and girls team went in with the goals of attaining personal bests in their races. The girls placed 21st in the state. Outstanding performances included Emma Collison, who ran a lifetime PR of a 20:06 and moved to #61st all-time  and Jacie Remtema who ran a lifetime PR of a 19:19 and moved to #26 all time at Milford. The boys placed 12th in the state. Senior Easton Williams placed 12th in the state, earning All- State Honors running a lifetime PR of 15:41, moving to #10 All-Time at Milford. Earning a spot on the starting line at the state finals is the main goal of the Milford team. The philosophy is all about patience and setting the table for success in championship season. “Our ability to return to states reflects the culture of our program and speaks to the consistency of our impressive legacy,” said Salyers.

Girls Varsity team stands on the MIS race track after finishing 21st at the 2021 State Finals. (Fred Schwendenmann)
Senior Easton Williams takes 12th place and earns All–State honors. (Fred Schwendenmann)
Boys and Girls Varsity teams on the podium after boys claimed Championship and girls claimed Runner-Up. (Fred Schwendenmann)