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November 7, 2013

North, South accomplish goals

Ersula Farrow finishes seventh to lead Blue Devils at state finals

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Ersula Farrow, left, and Kelsie Schwartz stand with their All-State certificates after finishing seventh and 24th, respectively, at the state finals.

BROOKLYN — When the 2013 cross country season started, Grosse Pointe South coach Steve Zaranek wasn’t sure how much of the void his team could replace that was left by the departure of the Meier twins last season.

It took some time, but at the end of the season, the girls from South nearly filled the entire void.

South took seventh place in the state final meet held at Michigan International Speedway this past Saturday.

Ersula Farrow finished in seventh place with a time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds to pace South. Kelsie Schwartz finished in 24th to earn All-State honors with a time of 18:37. Alexa Calas (36th), Anna Piccione (83rd) and Megan Sklarski (86th) rounded out the places for South.

“I was very happy with our results. We went in with the goal of trying to have a solid top-10 finish, and we accomplished that goal. We ran really well. Times for all runners were 20-30 seconds off because the course was so muddy, and it slowed everyone down. Looking at all of that our times were excellent, and our depth and our effort was just outstanding,” Zaranek said.

Schwartz and Calas are the lone seniors departing from South this season, which was the fifth time in a row that the Blue Devils finished in the top-10 at states.

“Kelsey (Schwartz) and Alexa (Calas) were the heart of the program this year. They’re great leaders; they were two of our five captains, and the varsity group looked to them for stability. They will definitely be missed next year. It’s like taking the heart out, but they’ve shown how to be replaced,” Zaranek said.

This is Farrow’s second consecutive top-10 finish at the state meet, but Zaranek said that her best races are still ahead for her.

“Ersula (Farrow) is just a tenacious runner. She’s such a great competitor, and she’s one that’s not going to be denied. Yesterday (the state meet) was no exception, and her best seasons are still ahead of her, there’s no doubt about it,” Zaranek said.

Farrow will be a part of a varsity group that will feature five returning runners from the state team this year. Junior Mary Spencer and freshman Kamryn Leonard will be joining Farrow, Piccione and Sklarski.

“We have a superb sophomore, and we have three quality juniors, so next year, we’ll have quality leadership at the top,” Zaranek said. “We’ll still have some youngsters, and our alternate will also be a senior next year, so it’s looking very promising that our depth will continue in the future.”

Grosse Pointe North
North coach Scott Cooper set a goal for his team to finish in the top 20 at states, and 20th is exactly where the Norsemen finished. That is the highest North has ever placed in the state finals under Cooper.

Sarah Rustmann led North with a time of 19:18 to place 60th overall. Julia Rustmann finished 20 seconds behind her to take 80th place, and Natalie Schaefer finished in 88th place at 19:49.

Sophomores Katelyn Carney and Keri Hryciuk rounded out the place runners for North.

“The girls did really well. They probably ran some of their best races. Nobody ran their best time, but that was because the course was really slow because of the mud. Everyone was slower than usual,” Cooper said.

The Rustmann sisters and Schaefer will be graduating from North this year, leaving Cooper with what he called his biggest loss in one class yet.

“This is going to be my biggest loss. I’ve never had three top seniors up there to recover from next year. They’ve just been great leaders and have done a tremendous job racing and leading the team by example,” Cooper said.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.