By Dan Hardenbrook

Sammy Taylor has had everyone’s attention since she first stepped on a cross country course. After dominating in middle school and finishing in an All State position as a freshman last season, Taylor took the next steps in an incredible career this past week: she set a new school record. She accomplished that last week in Mackinaw City, then broke it again at the most recent EUP Conference meet at the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club in Naubinway on Monday.

While Taylor was blazing through the trails and rewriting the record books, her Lady Indians teammates, who now include enough runners to compete and qualify for the team title at the U.P. Finals later this season, also continued to dominate as Newberry’s girls put themselves one step closer to a pair of conference championships.

Taylor took second overall behind Pickford’s Talya Schreiber at the 2023 Mackinaw Club Invitational, hosted by Mackinaw City. There were 81 entries in the girls varsity race, and Taylor’s time of 19:23 was the fastest ever by a Lady Indian in a 3.1 mile varsity race.

The next challenger to that school record may be in the same household. Younger sister Abby Taylor took third overall, and was strong, finishing in 20:00 to help the Lady Indians control the top 5. Senior leader Kaylen Clark was fifth in the Girls Class D race and finished 8th place overall in the event that also included runners from Class A, B, and C schools. Clark continued her strong senior season with a time of 21:29.

Engadine had a top 10 finisher on a strong day for the Lady Eagles. Ally Loebach (7th in class D/19th overall) led the Lady Eagles with a time of 23:11.15 while teammate Clara Gould came in 13th among Class D runners (32nd Overall) at 24:24. Engadine was rounded out by Kate Kovar (28:31) and Lilia Bigelow (38:10).

In the boys race it was Engadine’s Dakota Taylor that led local runners. Taylor took a top 20 overall finish in the 82-runner boys varsity race. Taylor was 11th in Class D at 19:40. Newberry’s Sam Rahilly wasn’t far back, finishing 23rd overall at 19:46 as several runners fought for spots at the finish line. Fellow Indians runner Kellan Bruno had a great day, finishing in the top half of the field at a time of 21:32.

At Monday’s EUP Meet in Naubinway, Taylor took off on another record-breaking run, shattering her own previous mark from Mackinaw City. Taylor destroyed her previous record by 16 seconds, completing the course in 19:07. Taylor is currently at the top of the EUP Conference standings after two of three races that determine the final conference champions.

Taylor ran at a pace that averaged just over six minutes per mile in the legendary performance that now places her ahead of former and future Hall of Fame runners. Abby Taylor continued to impress with a personal best time of 19:57, also putting herself in EUP Conference awards contention. Clark capped a busy week, as the newly crowned Homecoming Queen returned to her throne on the course with her season best 20:57. Cross country newcomer Addison Schroeder has emerged as a strong addition, and finished the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Club course with a personal best time of 23:32.

Newcomers Makennah Russell and Ashlynn Kropp competed in their first career events and provided the final necessary runners to allow Newberry girls to qualify in state meets. Both had strong showings on Monday. Newberry’s boys were represented by Sam Rahilly and Kellan Bruno, but due to an error in timing for the boys race, results were not made available.