The Allendale High School Cross Country team knows a thing or two about perseverance and tenacity. After slogging through one of the hottest summers in recent history, the team has emerged dedicated and passionate about running the best race they can. Immersed in a tough conference, OK Blue runners know that every step counts and every mile is a victory.
Coach Grant Lofdahl shepherds his team with great care and a tender heart. “The kids on my team mean the world to me. It is absolutely the highlight of my day to come to practice and be a part of their lives.” He pointed out that while experience levels on his team range from rookie running to experienced long distance runners, each of the students wearing an Allendale uniform brings something valuable that adds to the spirit of the whole.
With no senior boys running this year, Coach Lofdahl is grateful to rely on the natural leadership skills brought to the field by juniors Micah Maness and Brad Hoekstra. Micah has been a CC runner for three years at AHS and is now maturing into a young man who brings leadership to the team by the kind of integrity and character he displays. Brad, also in his third year with the team, has grown to become one of the fastest runners in the Grand Rapids area. Both are serving as captains this year for the boys.
For their part, the girls boast their own leaders who fill the role of captains as well. Senior Katherine Ginn and junior Layne Corner bring the work ethic, experience, and dedication the younger runners can look up to. Katherine shines as a young woman of integrity and admirable character, while Layne demonstrates success on the course that paves the way for both team and individual recognition.
Coach Lofdahl knows that success in any form would be hard-faught without the help of parents. “We absolutely would not be half the team we are without our amazing Cross Country Parents. From hosting team dinners, to chaperoning at camp, to volunteering their time at home meets and in so many other ways, the parents really make the season fun. Their support at meets has been tremendous over the years — cross is unique in that every parent supports their own athlete AND all the other athletes.”
“…The last finishers on our team get nearly as many cheers and congratulations as the all-conference performers, because parents and teammates alike understand that every one of them is competing to the best of their ability. We’ve also been blessed this season to have three excellent assistant coaches in Alex MacDonald, Nicole Hammer and Steve Fuelling, who have brought a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the team.”
The team operates on a priority code that teaches Family First, School Second, Cross Country Third. Working off this mantra keeps goals in focus and priorities in balance. Students study hard and know that their primary “job” during this season of life is to be a student. The team bands together to offer academic support to one another if the opportunity arises, while celebrating those whose classroom efforts garner academic all-state honors, such as last year’s Ali Wiersma.
These student-athletes are intent on achieving their personal best with the help of coaches who think the world of them. “We have a very neat blend of personalities and experiences that make this team fun and entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re quite talented and are learning to take running seriously. We’ve set some high goals and we’re working hard every day to achieve those.”
Best Wishes to the Allendale Cross Country team as they continue to blaze new paths together. May the road rise up to meet you!
If you would like to cheer on our runners, please join us:
Tuesday, October 16: AHS
OK Blue Individual Conference Championships
Saturday, October 27: AHS