If Bath had a dozen or so fewer students, the Bees girls cross country team might have celebrated a Division 4 state title in 2012.
Instead, No. 8 Bath equaled its ranking with an eighth-place finish in Division 3.
“We would have been no worse than runner-up with the times we had, but the girls have responded really well to the harder competition,” said Brad Abendroth, the Lansing State Journal girls cross country coach of the year. “We wanted to try to be in the top 10, and the girls handled it real well and fulfilled that goal.”
The Bees improved from 15th in Division 3 in 2011 after coming up just short of qualifying as a team in Division 3 in 2010 with a fourth-place regional finish.
“We’ve had a good caliber of kids, hard workers who don’t back down and have a lot of fight and pride,” he said. “They did pretty much anything I asked them to.”
Bath also repeated as CMAC champions and took an impressive sixth place of 41 teams at the Greater Lansing Cross Country Championships behind only Division 1 East Lansing, Grand Ledge and Okemos, Division 2 DeWitt and Division 3 Lansing Catholic.
“They’re a matter-of-fact type of team,” Abendroth said. “They focus on what they are doing, but enjoy themselves afterward with their cross country family that includes a good group of supportive parents.
“It’s a bunch of talented, great girls who are pretty good friends but complete with each other and have no cliques. They look at the record board, and all try to make it.”
Freshman Annie Fanta (19:18) and seniors Alyssa Abendroth (19:21) and Gabrielle Labioda (19:55) ran fast enough this past season to make Bath’s girls cross country record board. Freshman Faith Brown (20:51), sophomore Samantha Evans (21:08), freshman Delaney Abendroth (21:18) and junior Marisa Hilts (21:51) are among those who will try to improve and eventually join them.
“They want to leave a mark after graduation and be role models for younger teammates and younger runners that are sixth- and seventh-graders now who can definitely help us in the future,” Abendroth said. “I’m real fortunate that there’s good interest in cross country here.”
He stepped into the tradition of success at Bath started by Mel Comeau, who led the Bees to 27 conference, 14 regional and two state titles in 31 years. Abendroth is in his third year as head coach after running for and then serving as an assistant under Comeau.
Among others honored in 2012, LSJ Division 1 coach of the year Bob Brown guided East Lansing to CAAC Blue and Greater Lansing meet titles and a 22nd-place finish at state finals. LSJ Division 2 coach of the year Ron Womboldt helped DeWitt repeat as CAAC Red champions and take third at the Greater Lansing meet. LSJ Division 3-4 coach of the year Tim Simpson led Lansing Catholic to CAAC White and Carson City regional titles as well as fifth-place finishes in the Greater Lansing and Division 3 state meets. – Dick Hoekstra