The St. Michael Boys XC Team Takes Ninth at State Finals; Paga and Law Become First All-State Athletes in School History

PETOSKEY – November 13, 2020 – St. Michael Academy (SMA), Northern Michigan’s only Classical Catholic high school, is pleased to announce that its Boys Cross Country (XC) team finished ninth at the Division-4 State Finals at Michigan International Speedway last Saturday, the second consecutive Top Ten finish for the Guardians.

The team reached this accomplishment, in large part, through outstanding performances by Junior Sam Paga and Senior Hammond Law, who finished 5th and 15th, respectively, earning Division-4 All-State honors.  Paga and Law thus became the first All-State athletes in school history.

SMA Athletic Director and XC Coach Larry Rudnicki noted, “Sam and Hammond improved substantially over last year at the State Finals – Sam, from 31st to 5th, and Hammond, from 56th to 15th.  Neither entered our program as a strong runner.  Rather, this is a testament to their perseverance and hard work, and to their outstanding teammates, especially fellow veterans Mac Moore and William Gagnon, who’ve trained with them and supported them for the last three seasons, as well as to Jake Walz, Isaac Paga, and Andrew Licata, who joined our team this year.”

As a team, SMA scored 252 points to place 9th, less than 30 points out of 5th place where the team finished last season.  As expected, there was great parity among the top teams, with the winner tallying 157 points, historically a very high score to win a Division-4 Championship.  (Lower is better in XC scoring.)

SMA Headmaster Dr. Richard Brake added, “I’m also extremely proud of our guys, but I’ll be honest – we were all hoping that we could shock the world and perhaps become the smallest school to ever win the State Championship – and with this year’s Division-wide parity, it was not an unreasonable target.  Even so, who could be less than amazed at what our Boys XC program has accomplished in just three seasons.  It has helped put St. Michael ‘on the map’ and I’m confident that it will continue to excel in future years.”

Informed by a significant and growing body of supporting research, SMA is committed to remaining open for on-site learning and formation, whenever possible, five days per week.

For more information, please contact Dr. Brake at

Established in 2013, St. Michael Academy is the first Catholic high school in the Little Traverse area since 1972, and the region’s only Classical high school.  SMA strives to develop the next generation of American leaders by promoting a culture of excellence and instilling its students with the classical virtues of wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice, along with the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love.

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