The 2015 Milford girls cross country team blazed a new trail Thursday afternoon by earning its first conference championship in nine years at Island Lake State Park.
Paced by individual winner Mallory Barrett, the Mavericks scored 53 points and were able to hold off runner-up Brighton (57) and third-place finisher Waterford Mott (66) for the coveted KLAA Lakes Conference crown.
“I was tremendously proud of the girls and their ability to compete in the most competitive field we have faced since joining the KLAA,” Milford coach Brian Salyers said. “Both Brighton and Mott are outstanding teams and Pinckney (106) and Walled Lake Northern (111) are state finals worthy teams.”
Barrett, a junior, edged Mott’s Katie Osika in a near photo finish in the 5,000-meter race by less than a second.
Barrett, who became only the fourth Milford girl to win multiple conference titles, was clocked in 18:29.9, while Osika’s time was 18:30.4.
Milford, which last won the Kensington Valley Conference title in 2006, also got a sterling performance from freshman Victoria Heiligenthal, who finished fourth in 18:44.8.
Rounding out the Mavericks’ scoring contingent was sophomore Nicole Grindling, 14th (19:22.8); senior Gabrielle Byndas, 16th (19:30.2); and freshman Paige Saiz, 18th (19:35.5).
All three earned All-Conference honors along with sophomore teammate Regan Lobodzinski, who placed 21st with a time of 19:35.5. Sophomore Emilie Kennedy added a 41st in 20:56.2.
“The race up front was one with the lead pack of 12 girls sticking through two miles,” Salyers said. “The last mile was fast and furious and our girls showed great resolve.”
It was the 14th conference championship in school history for the Mavericks.
“Our girls demonstrated great teamwork throughout the race and that commitment to each other can be the difference in such a tight battle,” Salyers said.
White Lake Lakeland placed sixth in the Lakes Conference meet as sophomore Olivia Clymer (fifth, 18:47.9) and freshman Madeline Rehm (11th, 19:06.0) both earned all-conference laurels by finishing in the top 21.
Other scorers for the Eagles included sophomore Rachel Martell, 36th (20:47.0); junior Marisa Sailus, 39th (20:53.0); and sophomore Katelyn Cheeseman, 52nd (22:11.7).
Freshman Lilly Clymer (53rd, 22:11.8) and freshman Rachel Townson (23:53.4) rounding out the Lakeland contingent.