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Cross Country Earns Regional Crown

By Jeannie Gregory, 10/27/18, 12:45AM EDT

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Rams Girls Cross Country Team poses with their regional trophy. ~ Contributed Photo

Rams tally 47 points to claim regional title

The Rockford High School girls cross country team has been working hard all season and the results are showing in the past two meets. The Rams claimed the titles in both the OK Red Conference, and in the MHSAA’s D1 Regionals.

Rockford earned the regional crown, Saturday, Oct. 27, tallying just 47 points on the day. Forest Hills Northern was the closest competitor, racking up 64 points to claim second-place status.

Five Rams landed in the top 20 for the regional. Senior Ericka VanderLende, who verbally committed to University of Michigan just the day before, continued her tear on cross country courses, placing first with a time of 16:43.30. The closest to her was Ottawa Hills’ Adit Dau, who placed second with a time of 18:01.50. Fellow senior Emma Everhart-Deckard also had a big day, landing a valuable fifth-place finish with a time of 18:20.48. Rams sophomore Lexie Allshouse placed ninth, clocking in at 19:14.15.  Freshman Bailey Ewin put in her personal best at the regional, landing 12th with a time of 19:19.02. She was followed by junior Elizabeth Bennett, who claimed 20th with a time of 19:42.69. Senior Carly Maynard blew through the course, claiming 25th with a time of 19:58.12, and sophomore Karlie Gardner placed 43rd with a time of 21:07.63.

Head coach Ben Watson was thrilled with his team’s performance.

“Winning was a team effort where each of our top four ran Lifetime Personal Records, while our fifth missed a record by only two seconds and our sixth ran a Season PR while breaking 20 for first time,” he said. “Karlie Gardner ran in seventh for us and gave us a gutsy effort.”

Watson pointed to the leadership of his two seniors as the catalysts behind his team’s success.

“Ericka and Emma have performed up to expectation in both running their fastest ever,” Watson said. “I can't say enough about them; they have been flat-out incredible.”

He also pointed to the impressive performances of his underclassmen.

“Sophomore Lexie Allshouse has now raced 1:26 seconds faster than last year while Lizzie Bennett, a junior, has improved 1:00 over her tenth grade season and that was a 50 second improvement over her 9th grade year. If these girls don't make these improvements we simply wouldn't be winning and it just goes to show that putting in the work day after day and sometimes year after year really does pay off. Ninth grader Bailey Ewen has been a much needed surprise in continuing to improve and has exceeded all expectations.”

The Regional crown came a week after the Rams claimed the OK Red Crown outright.

“The season has been so enjoyable and memorable because the girls have really benefited from their dedication to making themselves the best team they can be,” said Watson. We have the biggest race of the year in seven days and we are looking forward to putting together one more great team effort.”


Ericka VanderLende ~ Photo by Elizabeth Geshel


Emma Everhart-Deckard ~ Photo by Elizabeth Geshel