Polish runner might just be the greatest Michigan high school cross-country athlete ever

Photo: Junfu Han/Detroit Free Pres

A couple of boys from the Tecumseh cross-country team stood near the finish line of the SEC Red girls championship meet at Hudson Mills and watched in amazement as Zofia Dudek sprinted across the finish line — and the second-place finisher wasn’t in sight.

An official announced Dudek’s winning time of 17 minutes, 9.4 seconds and one of the Tecumseh runners looked at the other and said: “Well, she just beat my PR.”

Dudek has beaten a lot of runners’ personal records.

Ann Arbor Pioneer senior Zofia Dudek practices with her teammates at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

A senior at Ann Arbor Pioneer, Dudek has easily posted the best time in the state this year when she won a meet at Ypsilanti in an incredible 16:46.9, which is also the sixth-best time in the country this fall.

That is why Dudek will be the center of attention Saturday at the cross-country state championship meet at Michigan International Speedway.

Only two girls have ever broken 17 minutes at the state meet – Lansing Catholic’s Olivia Theis (16:52.1) in 2017 and Rochester’s Megan Goethals (16:54.8) in 2009 – and Dudek is hoping to be No. 3 and in the process hopes to set a state record.

But it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of running for a state championship seemed so foreign to Dudek because, well, there are no state championship meets in  … Poland.

Dudek grew up in Warsaw and is in Michigan only because her father, Maciej, is a visiting professor of economics at the University of Michigan.

Read the Detroit Free Press for more.

More High School Sports