For the first time in Elite Series history, the Gazelle Sports Elite 3200 took place as part of the GVSU Big Meet, featuring top collegiate athletes and programs from across the midwest and the country. It was a treat, and a preview, for our elite field to compete on a big stage with other extraordinary athletes.
The girls race was never in doubt as Ann Arbor's Zofia Dudek (reigning Foot Locker Cross Country National Champion) led the race wire to wire, jumping out to a strong lead within the first 200 meters and never relinquishing. Even more impressive than her win was that she set a new event record (9:56.72) running all by herself, besting last year's winner, Katelynn Hart, by nearly six full seconds. The race for second place stayed extremely competitive all the way through with Audrey DaDamio from Bloomfield Hills coming out on top followed by eighth-grader from Grand Rapids Clara James-Heer in third. Rounding out the top five were Lani Bloom from Ithaca, MI and reigning Elite Mile champion Erin Strzelecki from Fort Wayne, IN.
The guys race took on a different tone as it started very conservatively with everyone hesitant to lead the pack. Within the first kilometer there were no fewer than five different leaders, including Gatorade Player of the Year Carter Solomon from Plymouth, MI and Cael Grotenhuis from Slinger, WI. As the herd began to thin, Grand Rapids' own Evan Bishop took control of the race and edged out two Indiana natives, Reece Gibson and Izaiah Steury, to take the win in 9:08.65. Dearborn's Anthony Hancock finished fourth and Fremont's Nathan Walker was fifth.
On a cold Valentine's Day evening in Allendale, these kids lit the track on fire. Thanks to all the athletes for another great Elite Series, and good luck to all competing at the indoor State Finals this coming weekend!