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Lutheran North’s Patterson repeats as D-3 cross country state champion

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Macomb Lutheran North junior Gina Patterson is making quite the name for herself as a distance runner.

Patterson, a member of the Mustangs’ girls cross country team, has dominated just about every course she’s taken to as a prep athlete, including a win at the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 cross country state finals. It was Patterson’s second straight D-3 state title; she finished the 3.1-mile race in 18 minutes, 2 seconds. The second place finisher, Charlevoix’s Amber Way, clocked in at 18:04.

As a team, Lutheran North placed third, scoring 214 points. Sheperd High won the D-3 state title, tallying 120 points.

Mustangs junior Jenna Briney finished 25th with a time of 19:48, sophomore Briana Weglarz (51st, 20:41), junior Jenna Cundy (68th, 20:57) and freshman Alana Patterson (69th, 20:57) also scored for the Mustangs.

Lutheran North placed seventh at the 2012 D-3 finals and 10th in 2011.

“I just feel so blessed and grateful,” said Patterson, who lives in Clinton Township. “I know I worked so hard to run a good race. I praise God for giving me the ability to compete at a high level.”

Since starting her career at Lutheran North, Patterson has compiled quite an impressive record. She’s won the last two Macomb County Invitational titles, placing second as a freshman in 2011. Patterson has also won eight of the nine Catholic High School League Division 2 jamborees.

This fall, Patterson won 13 of the 14 events she competed in. Her lone second-place finish came Aug. 24 in the St. Clair Mariner Invitational. The Lutheran North junior has won 26 of 28 races dating back to the start of 2012.

Patterson’s lowest place as a high school runner is her sixth-place finish in the 2011 MHSAA D-3 state finals. During that season, she won 10 of 14 races she participated in.

Her finish at the 2012 D-3 state finals, in a time of 17:43, is the best time in D-3, since the distance of 3.1 miles became the MHSAA standard in 1980. That time is almost 10 seconds better than the next best.

“I just go into each race telling myself to do a great job,” said Patterson, who said she has not decided on a college yet but said she would like to pursue a career in the medical field.

“(Lutheran North coach) Tim Grotelueschen has trained my teammates and I so well that we always believe we have a chance to perform well at any meet.”

Patterson also said her parents, Lawrence and Emma Patterson, provide her with a wealth of support, both as a runner and a person. She said she’s blessed and thankful to have them in her life.

Next year, Patterson will have a chance to join a select group of runners. There have been only 15 three-time D-3 state champions.

“Winning (three state titles) would be pretty special,” Patterson said. “I know it will be tough because there are a lot of good runners in the state. I’m just going to stay humble and work hard because I know good things can happen when you do that.”