Girls Varsity Cross Country

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Whitmore Lake’s state title goes beyond cross country glory

7.0 months ago @ 2:42PM

‘We all cried’: Whitmore Lake’s state title goes beyond cross-country glory

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WHITMORE LAKE – They cried. Then they laughed. Then they cried again.

The emotions ran high for Whitmore Lake’s girls cross country team during the Division 4 state finals this month – and for good reason.

Though they were picked as one of the favorites to win the championship for the first time in nearly 30 years, they were unsure until the final numbers flashed on the scoreboard at Michigan International Speedway.

Not only were they crowned state champions, but they were also now bonded forever.

“We all cried,” said Whitmore Lake sophomore Carina Burchi during an interview with MLive-The Ann Arbor News. “We knew either way we were going to cry because it was our last race together as a team.”

Even before the race began, the Trojan runners were emotional because of everything they had endured to get to the pinnacle of the sport with a chance to make history as a team.

“We all bonded so much this year,” Burchi said. “I’m super happy we won that many races and we all put in so much effort. What I’m taking away from the season is the friendships I made with the people on this team. It’s overwhelming, almost, for me.”

The championship victory was just the beginning of the celebration for the team.

They enjoyed a pep rally at school and had their championship pictures in the hallways. And there’s even a plan to have the team’s photo on a billboard in town.

“A lot of people have been excited about it,” said senior Natalie Meadows. “I’m proud because it’s like a small town and everyone knows we were able to have this championship and do it for our town.”

For freshman Kaylie Livingston, the dedication the team put forth made the reaction from the community even sweeter.

“One thing I appreciate is the hard work we all put in all season,” Kaylie said. “It’s been a big deal because our school hasn’t won anything in a while, so having the banner in the gym and the support is nice.”

Kaylie Livingston led the pack with a second-place finish, while Burchi placed sixth, sophomore Sofia Robertson took 20th, Meadows placed 30th and sophomore Elodie Weaver finished 49th.

Junior Isabella Nelson-Daniels took 149th and senior Ciara Parsons finished 178th.

Having four players earn all-state honors by finishing in the top 30 was impressive, and head coach Casey Livingston said he was especially pleased with Weaver’s performance, who ran 54 seconds faster than she did a week prior to the finals.

“They did a good job keeping the nerves down,” Casey Livingston said. “We went in with a plan and came out with a state championship.”

The Trojans restored the program to its glory days when it claimed three state titles in 1993, 1995 and 1996, with a state runner-up finish in 1994.

It had been a long time, but this year’s team had the right mix of talent and experience to etch its name among the best teams in school history.

“It was the journey watching them,” Casey Livingston said on what he would remember most. “They started in the summer. They met, they ran, and they got Starbucks. Last three weeks of October, we ran really well and that really set the tone.

“We’re going to miss the group. Each team has that unique aspect about it but like the girls said, they’re going to continue to grow, and their bond will get closer.”