Stockbridge sophomore Rylee Tolson set school history by becoming the first girl to win the State Championship by winning the Division 3 race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn Saturday, November 2.
And if you know Rylee, it is not surprising that she wanted to talk about her teammates and getting the team to the finals next year over her accomplishment Saturday.
“My teammates are probably waiting right over there to jump all over me,” Tolson said. “They are more than teammates, more than best friends, they are the world to me and I don’t know where I would be without them.”
Tolson was the top Panther all season, but she was always there at the finish line for her teammates cheering them on.
‘That is typical Rylee,” Coach Jeff Trapp said. “She is always thinking of the team. She is always asking how to get more people involved. Her work ethic is amazing, but she is always doing all the little things for the team.”
The D3 girls was projected to be one of the closest races of the day and it turned out just that until Tolson kicked it into gear.
Tolson entered the race with the second fastest D3 time of the seasonn, behind Allison Chmielewski of Roscommon. Maddy Bean of Richmond and a pair of Hart runners Savannah Ackley and Audrianna Enns were all grouped together as having a shot at the state title.
The five runners were grouped together at the one mile marker, but one of the Hart runners tried to pull away.
“We ran together as a group and pushed each other for the first two miles,” Tolson said. “The one Hart runner tried to jump ahead, but we caught right back up with her.”
The group was still together at the two mile mark and it was still anyone’s race.
“Rylee had a strategy for the race and it was great seeing her run it to perfection,” Trapp said. “She wanted to run with the leaders and when they reentered the track on the downhill part of the track, she would kick it in to gear.”
Tolson did just that.
Once down the hill and on the infield of MIS, she built a little bit of a lead on the pack. She got stronger as she hit the final turn and pulled away on the final straight away to beat out second place Bean by 7.6 seconds.
Tolson finished with a time of 18:31.4, with Bean in 18:39, and Chmielewski third in 18:40.9.
“I broke away from the group at about the 2.5 mile mark,” Tolson said. “I kind a pulled away a bit, I knew second place was still right there with me, but I was excited because I knew I still had a lot to push.”
The final straight away was a muddy mess and a tough finish for all the runners.
“I was trying to just not get stuck in the mud and fall down and lose the race,” Rylee said.
Winning the title as a sophomore, Tolson will now be the one that everyone will be shooting for over the next two years.
“She (Tolson) is not one to settle and she wants the team here so she is already thinking about next year,” Trapp said.
Rylee also admitted to think about next year. “I have already been talking to girls about a running outside of practices and building strength for next season,” she said.
Tolson becomes the fourth Stockbridge runner to win the individual state title and the first girl.
Richard Bradshaw (1981), Tim Boring (1996), and Brandon Grybas (2001) won for the boys’ team.
“It is really exciting, I feel like I am paving the path for younger girls to run cross country for Stockbridge,” Tolson said.
Tolson made Stockbridge history Saturday. With her just being a sophomore, she still has plenty of time to make a lot more history as a Panther.