Flint Powers Catholic girls well-acquainted with top competition

Flint Powers Catholic girls well-acquainted with top competition

Provided by Bill Khan | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — The stage will be bigger, the pressure more intense, but nothing should come as a surprise to Powers Catholic Saturday in the state Division 3 girls’ cross country meet.

For one thing, all seven of the Chargers have run in at least one state meet. Having that experience in the unique environment at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is invaluable.

For another, Powers has already competed against nearly all of the top competition in Division 3 — more than once, in some cases.

The Chargers will certainly take on an underdog role now that they’ve plunged from third to ninth in the finalMichiganCrossCountry.com rankings. The reason for the drop is probablyPowers’ 27-52 losing margin to second-ranked Caro in the regional Saturday at Harbor Beach. The Chargers were also sixth behind five ranked teams in the Portage Invitational on Oct. 8, but without top runner Morgan McKerchie.

The highlight of Powers’ season was beating fourth-ranked Hanover-Horton, the two-time defending state champion, in a tie-breaker at the Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard Invitational on Oct. 15.

“We’ve been ranked reasonably well throughout the year,” Powers coach David Quinn said. “I’m not sure we deserve it every time. We’ve raced a lot of the good teams this year. We did much better winning invitationals last year, but actually this team is a better team. They’re going against tougher teams, and the teams have gotten tougher.”

Powers was seventh in Division 3 last year, its best state finish since the 2000 squad was the Division 2 runner-up. The Chargers return six of their seven runners from the 2010 state meet. Senior Grace Hildenspergerdidn’t run in the state meet last year, but did run as a freshman in 2008.

Senior Jessica Adams will run in her fourth state meet. Juniors Kaylie MilneSarah Waraniak and Lindsay Hall will run in their third. McKerchie and Kayelin Mazur, both sophomores, will make their second trip to MIS.

“That gives them a lot of confidence,” Quinn said. “They’re not going to have the jitters.”

McKerchie was 33rd in the state meet last year in 19:28.3, three spots out of an All-State berth. She comes into the meet as a regional champion for the second straight year, having run a personal-best 18:37.14 last Saturday. It was a huge drop from her season best of 19:46. Her previous fastest time was 18:44 in the 2010 Big Nine Conference meet at IMA Brookwood.

“If she runs as well as she ran Saturday, I think she’ll be top 10,” Quinn said.

The only other state-ranked team from the Flint area is Grand Blanc, which is No. 8 among Division 1 boys. The Bobcats dropped from No. 7, despite losing by only seven points to No. 2 Saginaw Heritage in the regional.

Linden’s boys received honorable mention in Division 2, despite beating No. 8 Haslett (then ranked No. 4) by one point in the regional.