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1996 MICHIGAN H.S. Cross Country Finals
NOVEMBER 2ND, 1996
Michigan Intl. Speedway, Brooklyn, MI
State Meet Stories by Dave McCauley - RunMichigan.com!
The Good, the Bad, the Cold...
New Format Draws All Opinions
One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is change. The Michigan high school running community had to deal with some major changes this year in the way their cross country state meet was held. The way in which those changes were handled varied considerably and opinions throughout the grounds of the Michigan International Speedway, site of this year's High School Cross Country Finals, varied as well.
The bottom line, and what many should consider, is that the cross country student-athletes were given an experience unlike any other...an experience most will never forget. The thrill of finishing a cross country race with up to 8,500 people cheering for you, is a thrill probably no high school cross country runner has ever had. The other thing to consider is that the sport of cross country took a big step forward with the bringing together of all four classes to one location for a very exciting day of racing. If we can concentrate on those two main items, the good of the athletes and the good of the sport, then the problems that were encountered can be worked with and taken as a challenge to make this event even better than it was. Those coaches who understand this were very supportive of this event and the attempt that was made to better the sport and give the athletes a great experience.
Yes, there were many things that made this year's state meet one that many would like to forget. The staff of RunMichigan.com was lucky enough to have access to the entire course, as were the athletes and their coaches and some parents. As for the majority of the spectators, the state meet was not a pleasant one. Parent's and friends who are used to being close to the race had to spend the entire time in the MIS stands, where the only thing they could see was the finish of the race. Feelings on this matter differed as some competitors were happy that the course was free of spectators and confusion, but at the same time felt for the parents and friends who couldn't get close to the race. Most spectators, however, were not pleased with the experience. "I go to every cross country race.", said one parent, "And I'm within a half a mile of my son, and I've been all over the course watching him run for three years now, and this is the first time I can't even get close to him." This seemed to be the main concern for many parents and friends who had come to watch their children or friends run in the most important race of the year.
Other problems encountered on the day included the delay in race results. This was caused mostly, not as most believe by the problems with the Computer Chipst to be worn on the shoes of the runners, but by the poorly run finish chute. Organization and management of the finish line was not as it should be. The computer chips were not meant to be the only meathod of recording times and compiling results. They were to work in conjunction with normal finish line procedures.
If you look at the overall picture and try to overlook the problems, this event was a success. If you look at the facts that the runners had a great experience, and that the sport of high school cross country got a big boost by having all 4 classes in one spot, then you would agree that the basic concept was a good one. If somehow the spectator problems can be dealt with, the format will eventually be a success.
Van Tuyl wins third straight title...
Some runners dream of making it to the state meet. Others dream of making All-State. Portage Northern's Sharon Van Tuyl has experienced some things many would never dream of. For Van Tuyl, this year's Michigan High School Class A State Champion, the thought of running this year's state meet for some time was only a dream. Despite being injured for much of this cross country season, Van Tuyl was able to win the state title for the third straight year! Her time of 17:52 was the fastest time on the day. Only Bethany Brewster's 18:00 was remotely close.
Van Tuyl lead for most of this year's state championship race, cruising through the two mile mark in 11:25 on her way to the win. Van Tuyl, who is now looking toward staying healthy and preparing for the track season, has more goals to achieve. "(I would like to) better my times from last year and hopefully win the state again", she said. Her current track p.r.'s are 4:53 for the 1600 and 10:25 for 3200! With her enthusiasm for the sport, she should reach those goals and more.
Shay proves the strength of Class D...
Every so often there comes an athlete who can totally dominate his or her sport. Ryan Shay of Central Lake has done just that. For the fourth time in a row, Ryan Shay is the Class D Cross Country State Champion. Not only did Shay prove he is the best runner in Class D, but he also proved to be the best runner in all classes. One of the disadvantages with the old system of running the different classes at different locations, was the fact that there was always arguments as to who really ran the best races. With all races in one location this year, it was easy to see that Ryan Shay was the best male runner in Michigan high school cross country. Shay's time for the 5k course was 15:30. The closest time to Shay's, was Lyle Mayers of Charlotte in the Class B race. Mayers's time was 15:37. What was even more impressive about Shay's time was that his closest competitor in the Class D race was Trevor McGinn of Grass Lake, over 1 minute behind in 16:36.
Shay, a senior, should have a promising career as a collegiate runner. He has narrowed his college choices down to four. "I'm looking at Arizona, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Stanford", he said. With continued hard work, Shay should be succesful wherever he decides to go.
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