Racing to the Michigan Cross Country State Meet


The boys and girls team pose in front of the Powerhouse before their pre-race dinner (Photo courtesy of Fred Schwendenmann).

Lauren Empie, Features Editor

In the finishing stretch of the 2022 Milford Cross Country season, the girls and boys teams traveled to the Michigan Cross Country Division I State Meet. This year, the meet was held on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Michigan International Speedway. But the experience didn’t just happen that day; the traditions leading up to it occurred the whole week before.

The Week Before

Beginning in school and practice, the team shares a sense of unity and pride as they wear the iconic colorful matching “Milford Cross Country” shirts. Each shirt holds a different meaning, such as the red shirt symbolizes the passion and intensity leading up to an important race. Similarly, the black shirt symbolizes the strength and power that these athletes have worked towards this season and how they have built up to be ready for the race.

Senior Grace Harkenrider, a four-time state runner, expressed her appreciation of the tradition of wearing the shirts and said, “[Wearing the shirts] feels empowering and it really brings the team together.”


The Day Before

After Friday’s practice, the team gets ready and heads to an unusual spot for dinner, the Milford Powerhouse, also known as the Pettibone Creek Hydroelectric Station. Beginning in 2011, Head Coach Brian Salyers took the team here for a catered dinner to allow them to reflect on their appreciation for who they are and where they are from. This dinner sparked inspiration and confidence within this team and they went on to be Division I State Champions In 2011.

Milford Senior Abigail Schwendenmann has run at the state meet twice and said, “[Going to the Powerhouse] helps us grow our connection as a team and realize the hardships we’ve experienced together and how we’ve overcome them.”

The varsity girls pose with their letter shirts before the race (Photo courtesy of Fred Schwendenmann).

At this dinner, the athletes receive their ‘letter shirts’. These warm-up shirts for the day of the meet spell out the word “Milford” and represent the idea that they are there as a team. When you look at each of the letters separately, they may seem strange or abstract, but when you put them together it shows the understanding that the team is there together and everyone is needed.

After this dinner, the team heads to Coach Smith’s house to decompress and spend time together. “An event like the state finals puts enough intensity in the moment, so it’s important to just relax,” Salyers explained, “Have fun, be part of your team, that type of thing and so it just keeps us kind of around each other.”

The Hours Before

Bright and early Saturday morning on the way to the race, the team takes a drive through their home course, Possum Hollow in Kensington Metropark. “We take so much pride in that being our home,” Salyers said, “it may seem like a subtle thing, but it’s a meaningful thing.”

The varsity boys pose after their race (Photo courtesy of Quaid Schimitz).

Many of the runners commemorate this “subtle” act as one of their favorite state meet traditions. Junior Brayden Mullins explained that “it allows us to relax and get into the mindset that we need to be able to focus before the race.” Senior Quaid Schimetz added, “For the seniors, it is one last look at their home course before going to run their last high school cross country race with their teammates ever.”

While also on this drive during the time to reflect, coaches pass out letters to the runners from their own teammates, former teammates, and alumni. Salyers emphasizes the importance of these letters to the athletes and says, “It’s just kind of giving them something to read and understand that there’s a lot of people behind you. And there’s a lot of people that believe in you.” Schimetz agreed, saying, “They all give us pre-race affirmations and a chance to settle our nerves.”



The Awaited Hour

A pack of Milford runners stick together at the start of the race (Photo courtesy of Fred Schwendenmann).

Upon their arrival at Michigan International Speedway, the runners get into their race mode and do their preparations for the anticipated race. The tent gets set up, the runners go on their warm-up and then it is time to head to the starting line.

Seniors Grace Harkenrider and Jacie Remtema pose with their medals after the awards ceremony was finished (Photo courtesy of Fred Schwendenmann).

“Through all the experiences we talked about and the journey we talked about, our number one priority is the race,” Salyers expressed, “We want to race, we want to race as well as we can, place as high as we can. Like, that’s a big deal for us.”

This year, the boys’ team placed 14th out of 27 schools, exceeding the expected rankings. Out of 257 runners, Senior Quaid Schimetz came in 42nd, followed by the International Academy’s Senior Thomas Kennedy, placing 76th. The girls’ team placed 15th out of 28 schools, also exceeding any predictions. Out of 267 runners, Seniors Grace Harkenrider and Jacie Remtema both made All-State, placing 17th and 27th respectively. To find all results from the race head to and search up Highland-Milford Cross Country.

The Hours After

The whole team gathers at Swain Park after the races for a team picnic (Photo courtesy of Fred Schwendenmann).

After all the celebration and excitement from the state meet, all the Milford runners, spectators and teammates head to Swain Park — the same spot they have celebrated state meet accomplishments for the past 22 years. At the park, runners get to enjoy a picnic, hang out with friends and relax together.

“We all get to enjoy spending time with each other for one of the last times for the season,” Sophomore Macy Jenkins shared, “It feels like a true family with all the parents, runners and supporters coming together.”

Through the journey of the states experience this year and every year before this, runners get to adventure through an amazing opportunity to run with the best teammates, at the biggest meet of the year and with the most passion imaginable. Congratulations to all the runners this season.