Reed City runner completes her career on an impressive note

Lofquist performs at state meet

Paige Lofquist

Paige Lofquist

Pioneer file photo

REED CITY – Paige Lofquist’s final season as a Reed City cross country runner was a fun one, not to mention a very successful one.

Lofquist competed in the Division 3 state meet on Saturday at the Michigan International Speedway near Brooklyn. She had qualified as an individual and then placed 187th (22:14.69).

“I think we’ve had a pretty strong season so far,” Lofquist said late in the season. “We’ve had a deep girls and boys team. They’ve all been competing for the seventh and eighth spot.”

Lofquist ran cross country all four seasons.

“My best year was my freshman year when I received my PR,” she said. 

She got her season record this year in the regional at 21:19.0. Going to state as an individual was her key goal.

“The best part of my race has been a better ending,” Lofquist said. “I don’t start off the race very fast, but I make up ground with the end of the second mile and the beginning of the third.”

“Throughout her career, Paige has been just shy of all-conference and state qualifying,” Reed City coach Rich Saladin said. “She was determined this year, put in the work, and then ran with grit and guts to meet her goals. I am absolutely thrilled for her and the way she finished her career.”

Lofquist also plays basketball, her favorite sport, and soccer.

The state meet ended a successful season for the Coyotes.

Rich and Susan Saladin recently completed their sixth season as coaches.

The girls and boys were both first at invitationals.

“It’s a long season and you sometimes don’t appreciate what’s happening in the moment,” Rich Saladin said. “Looking back at our accomplishments, I’m pretty proud of the output. Individual success leads to team success. We had both this year.

“We had big goals this year and accomplished a majority of them. We really wanted to send a team to State – and both finished just short with fourth place efforts in our Regional. Individually, we saw improvement across the board from Day 1 to Day 9.

“Both teams had a great start to the year by capturing 2nd place at Pete Moss Invite against some great competition. The boys also won invites at Ferris, Evart and Pine River. The girls won invites at Evart and Pine River. We’ve gradually moved from the hunter to the hunted – teams are looking out for us and that’s a good thing. It brings out better competition and makes our kids work harder.”

Nora Smoes was first team all-conference, and ninth at Regionals, 86th at State and had a 20:07 PR.

“Nora is strong and steady throughout the race,” Saladin said. “She put in the miles over the summer and if paid off with some great individual accomplishments.”

Her sister, Clara, was honorable mention all-conference.

“Clara had a tremendous freshman season – all-conference and state qualifier,” Saladin said.  “She will continue to improve and can make some history here. 

“Carly Carlson had a great freshman season finishing just shy of all-conference.  She will be part of a strong core returning and will have big goals for 2022.

Lofquist and Taylor Hilliard were team captains and are graduating.

“Paige Lofquist and Taylor Hilliard were our team captains and we’ll be missing their leadership next year,” Saladin said. “Nora Smoes, Clara Smoes and Carly Carlson will all be returning and will be a nice foundation to build on.

“The girls team will have some quality runners and we have some talented 8th graders to add to the mix. We will be competitive and, if we work during the summer, we may surprise.”