Audrey Griffin has led the Prince of Peace girls cross country team to the state meet each of the past three seasons. Each time, the Irish placed higher than the previous time.
Griffin, the Class 1A state runner-up as a freshman and sophomore, is back for one more try and once again will challenge some of the state’s best runners week in and week out.
“Audrey is our elite runner,” Prince of Peace coach Dave Lawrence said. “She will go to state for the fourth time and will contend with the frontrunners.”
Griffin placed seventh at the state meet last season, although her time (15 minutes, 12 seconds, was faster than her second-place time in 2009. In the Schoolhouse Open last week, her second race of the season, Griffin crossed the finish line in 15:31.94.
After the Schoolhouse Open, Griffin said she was a lot faster at this point in the season than she had been any of her other three seasons.
The Irish placed fourth as a team at the state meet, but three of the six members of that team are gone.
“We have a solid group of six girls that could contend again for the conference title and go to state,” Lawrence said.
Sophomore Jackie Kokjohn placed 31st at the state meet last year. Junior Anna Yackshaw also placed at the meet last year, placing 88th. Yackshaw finished the Schoolhouse Open in 18:17.66.
Griffin, Kokjohn and Yackshaw each were all-conference last season.
“Our new girls — Lauren (Pittman), Andrea (Aquilani) and Alyssa (Sikkema) — are doing well,” Lawrence said. “If we can avoid injury, I like our girls chances to be a top team.”
All six of the Prince of Peace girls finished the season-opening Clinton Quad in under 20 minutes.
Lawrence said Northeast and Marquette Catholic should be the other top teams in the conference in addition to the Irish. He said the conference was very tough.
“Some of the best runners in the state will be in our conference,” Lawrence said.
One look at last year’s state meet results prove that. Northeast’s Emily Franks was the 1A champion, Sarah Lampe of Marquette Catholic placed fifth, Griffin was seventh and Mariah Casey of Northeast took 12th. All of them are back this season.
For the complete fall outlook on Prince of Peace High School sports, pick up a copy of today's Clinton Herald.