Cross country

Girls track athlete of year: St. Johns' Karrigan Smith

Karrigan Smith repeated as the Division 2 state champion in the 1,600 run and helped St. Johns capture a team state title.

Karrigan Smith repeated as the Division 2 state champion in the 1,600 run and helped St. Johns capture a team state title.

Karrigan Smith couldn’t help but to feel a bit nostalgic as she reflected on a season that included a Division 2 team state track championship.

The recent St. Johns graduate remembers a time when that kind of accomplishment wasn’t on the radar for the Redwings girls track program.

“I just remember my freshman year we won just one meet the whole year and then to go to winning a state title for St. Johns track program my senior year — it’s just incredible how far we’ve come,” Smith said. “I owe that to the coaching staff at St. Johns both in cross country and track.”

Smith, the LSJ girls track athlete of the year, played a large role in the progress for the St. Johns girls track program. The Redwings went from losing meets in 2012 to winning league championships the last two years with Smith being a major point scorer.

Girls track and field Dream Team, all-area

That success translated to the Division 2 state meet as Smith capped her high school career in style and helped the Redwings edge Flint Southwestern by two points for their first state girls track championship. Smith, who will continue her running career at Michigan State, repeated as the state champ in the 1,600 run, took third in the 800 and was part of runner-up 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams during the Redwings’ historic day.

St. Johns girls track coach Neil Feldpausch thought Smith did well at not letting high expectations weigh on her this spring.

“Obviously she began the school year with a state title in cross country and I think she started to realize even more her potential,” Feldpausch said. “I think the fear left her this year and the fear of not being able to meet expectations. She was able to go out with confidence and perform.

“What that allowed her to do for the team was build up their confidence. She did whatever the team needed her to do. She carried the team both as a vocal leader and performing where needed and everyone saw that.”

Girls track coach of year: St. Johns’ Neil Feldpausch

Smith credits the many that assisted her in training for helping her thrive on the course. And she hopes the St. Johns track program will be able to build off the accomplishments from the last couple years.

“The team and family dynamic that we’ve built there is something I hope to see progress throughout the years beyond my four years,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be more excited about how I left things and how they are projected to be in the future. It’s been a really fun ride.”

Contact Brian Calloway at bcalloway@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.