A snafu with registration forms led to a pretty good day for Macomb L’Anse Creuse North sophomore runner Karenna Duffey.
Participating in last week’s Spartan Invitational, North was supposed to be in the Green race with other Division 1 schools. But the only spot available was in the Elite race, and as we are finding out, Duffey is among the most elite runners in the state. She proved that again in East Lansing
“The first mile or so, everyone started out really fast,” Duffey said. “I knew that if I didn’t start off fast myself, I would kind of get discouraged and actually wouldn’t be able to catch up.”
Duffey was in 10th place but close to the leaders. She completed the first mile in 5:36 but moved up quickly.
“After that first mile, a lot of the girls started progressively slowing down,” she said. “There was a pack of about four of us, and everyone else was maybe 10, 20 meters behind, probably a mile-and-a-half into it. Then we got to this one part, kind of in the woods, and it was really muddy, and people behind us started falling back even more.”
Not long after that, the race came down to a battle between Duffey and Traverse City St. Francis senior Holly Bullough, the defending Division 3 state champ.
“About two-and-three-quarters miles in, we were going at it pretty hard, me and Holly,” Duffey said. “My coach yelled at me: ‘It’s now or never.’ So I kind of went for it, and I guess she fell off a lot.”
Duffey won in 17:54, 11 seconds ahead of Lainey Studebaker from Centerville (Ohio). Bullough finished eighth (18:37).
Duffey won the Green race last year in 18:28, so she was pleased with her time given the soggy course and the weather conditions.
“Just before our race started, there was this random burst of sunlight that came right through the clouds, and all of a sudden it got extremely humid,” she said. “It was already humid before. But it got even more humid around 1 o’clock, and the race started at 1:25.”
This was Duffey’s third race of the season and her third victory. She finished third in last year’s Division 1 state finals (17:32.1) and had the best time of any freshman in the state.
Her Spartan Invitational time of 17:54 is good at this point.
“It’s the beginning of the season, and you’re always looking to do your best at the end of the season at the state meet,” she said. “I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to break 18 (minutes) in this race, especially with the conditions. I wanted to win, but I didn’t really guess a time. I just went for whatever I could do, so I’m really pleased.”
Last week we attended the news conference for U-D Jesuit senior basketball sensation Cassius Winston, who declared he will sign with Michigan State. The first high school athlete in Michigan to hold a news conference was Tommy LaGarde, a 1973 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central, who told us that day he would attend North Carolina. And it just so happened that North Carolina coach Dean Smith was at a nearby Clock restaurant if we wanted to speak to him. LaGarde had a fine career at UNC. He won an Olympic gold medal in 1976 and played in the NBA and in Europe for several years.
Coach of the week
This week’s Detroit Lions coach of the week is Lincoln Park’s Jamie Grignon, who was the coach in 2013 when the Railsplitters ended their state-record 66-game losing streak. Last week, Lincoln Park defeated Wyandotte, 18-15, to improve to 3-1. This is Grignon’s 35th year in coaching. He was Southgate Aquinas’ head coach in 1992-93 and Lincoln Park’s in 1994-99 before returning in 2013.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.