St. Michael Boys XC Takes Sixth at State Finals; Paga and Moore Earn All-State Honors; Girls XC Competes at Its First State Finals

PETOSKEY – November 10, 2021 – St. Michael High School (SMHS), Northern Michigan’s only Classical Catholic high school, announced today that its Boys Cross Country (XC) team finished sixth at the Division-4 State Finals on Saturday, marking the team’s third consecutive Top Ten finish.

The team was led by Senior Sam Paga in ninth place at 16:50, his second consecutive Top Ten finish, and Junior Mac Moore, who finished 17th in 17:01.  Both Paga and Moore earned Division-4 All-State honors.

SMHS XC Coach Larry Rudnicki stated, “We’re pleased to announce two more All-State performances to our growing tradition of athletic excellence!  As Sam has been our top runner, with Mac as our second or third runner, at the State Finals for each of our three Top Ten team finishes, it’s no exaggeration to say that they have built the foundation of our highly successful distance program!”

As a team, the Guardians scored 258 points to place sixth, landing just five points out of fifth place and just 20 points out of third in a high-scoring meet.  As expected, with #1-ranked Johannesburg-Lewiston hindered by the loss of some top runners, #2-ranked Concord and #3-ranked Hillsdale Academy stepped in to the vacuum with Hillsdale prevailing, 154 to 184.  For the second straight year, the winning score exceeded 150, historically very high to win a D-4 Championship.  (Lower is better in XC scoring.)

Individually, after Paga and Moore, Zach Maendel placed 95th in 18:17, Russell Vandermus placed 124th in a personal-best time of 18:39, and Levi Benzing placed 159th in 19:14.  In team scoring, the SMHS five placed 7-13-56-76-106, totaling 258 points.  Isaac Paga also competed for the Guardians.

In the Girls race, the Guardian Ladies finished 26th with 556 points in their debut at the State Finals.

The team was led by Freshman Jane Manthei, who finished 78th in 21:33, and Senior Emma O’Neil, who finished 88th in a personal-best time of 21:45.  Anna Zielinski, Leah Schlickau, Siobhan Weed, and Clare Zielinski also competed for SMHS.  For the second consecutive race, Weed set a personal-best time.

Results of both races can be viewed at…

SMHS Headmaster Dr. Richard Brake commented, “With three straight Top Ten finishes, our gentlemen have established St. Michael as a perennial power in Division-4 Cross Country!  We’re also thrilled to have sent our first-ever ladies team to the State Finals, an accomplishment which we hope to build upon!”

Coach Rudnicki concluded, “As always, I’m proud of our ladies and gentlemen, the majority of whom have never competed in a State Finals or anything remotely like it.  While Saturday was not our best overall performance, we nevertheless celebrate a successful season in which we finished in a much better place than we started out!”

“I congratulate our team members for their accomplishments and I thank our families for being so incredibly supportive!  Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to our Assistant Coach, Barrett Moore, who gave so much to our teams prior to his mid-season departure to the U.S. Marine Corps!”

St. Michael High School has emerged from the Covid crisis stronger and more vital than ever as it fully joins the Chesterton Schools Network, the largest and fastest-growing network of its kind in the country.  In light of the cultural turbulence of our times, SMHS welcomes all families who seek better education and faith formation for their teenagers and accepts transfers at any time during the academic year.

Established in 2013, the St. Michael mission is to nurture and elevate a new generation of joyful leaders educated in the Classical tradition and truth of the Catholic faith.

For more information on SMHS, please contact Dr. Brake at or 231-881-9026.

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