They overcame nervous anxiety to finish eighth and 10th in the Division 2 state finals.
Mason sophomore Meg Darmofal finished ahead of Charlotte freshman Lindsey Carlson at the state meet and in their dual meet, but Carlson beat Darmofal to win at regionals while also finishing as runner-up at the Greater Lansing Cross Country Championships and winning the CAAC Gold in meets in which Darmofal didn’t finish.
Both are being honored as Lansing State Journal girls cross country runners of the year.
“In the middle of the season, I just wanted to get there and experience the state meet,” Carlson said. “Before the race, I was shaking because I was so nervous. I just had to run my race. I was really shocked but overall very happy about what I accomplished.”
Carlson was the highest-finishing freshman in a 5-kilometer time of 18 minutes, 19 seconds at Michigan International Speedway near Brooklyn.
Darmofal also finished with a personal-record time (18:15), a huge improvement over the 18:48 she ran while taking 22nd and earning all-state for the first time in 2011.
“I was definitely a lot more physically fit than I was my freshman year, because I training better and smarter,” Darmofal said. “My freshman year, I would just go out and run.”
Just going out and running was enough to help her win the 2011 Greater Lansing meet. But she dropped out in 2012 due to illness.
“From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, I grew a lot as a runner and learned a lot about the sport,” Darmofal said. “I used to get so worked up before meets that it took away from my performance. I started learning more, and getting smarter about the mental aspect of the sport. By state meet, I had overcome the nerves and used it to help me. To be able to run that quickly felt so good. I was proud of myself to overcome the nerves.”
Carlson was surprised to finish runner-up at the 41-team Greater Lansing meet, by far the largest meet of her first six in high school.
“I was really kind of nervous and intimidated going into it,” Carlson said. “I wanted to run my best, but to take second with almost a PR (personal record time) was really shocking to me and fun.”
Although Carlson set middle school track and field records, she had never run a cross country meet or a 5K before August because Charlotte doesn’t sponsor middle school cross country.
“I remember seeing seven or eight people gathering together, and wondered what it was,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it, because I love to run.”
Her cousins, sophomore Miles and junior Hannah Garn, “helped me train and know what to expect.”
“I knew she was talented, but she’s a joy to coach,” Charlotte coach Jay Gowell said. “She’ll ask to do more, and I think she has unlimited potential.”
Mason coach Charles Miller feels similarly about Darmofal.
“As hard as she trains every day, she hasn’t touched what she’s going to do before it’s all said and done,” he said. “You should see her in workouts when she’s relaxed.
“She missed the league meet with a pulled calf muscle, was a little sick for regionals, and still ran a great state meet.”
Darmofal also holds a 4.0 grade-point average and plays travel soccer for TNT Dynamite U16.
“I’m training just as much, but now I know when to go easy and take a day off so I’m not getting as burnt out as last year,” Darmofal said.