BAD AXE — Riley Ford will leave Marlette as one of its most accomplished distance and cross country runners.
During her track & field career, she accumulated 30 wins and 13 more in cross country. She’s a multiple time state qualifier and medalist.
But like all 2020 Michigan Spring Sports Athletes, her career was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 3, when the Michigan High School Athletic Association made the difficult decision to cancel the spring season, Ford thought she would never have an opportunity to wear the Marlette uniform again.
When she found out about the 2020 Senior Showcase in Bad Axe, she didn’t hesitate at the chance to compete one more time.
“It was really cool, because it was our last chance compete again,” said Ford. “For me, it was a last time to compete against the kids that I’ve been running against since junior high. After not seeing everyone all spring, it was so much fun to see them again.”
Ford competed in two individual events, turning in a time of 5:33 in the 1,600 and was a part of the race of the night, finishing at 11:54 in the 3,200.
Ford, along with North Huron’s De’Andre Morris and Bad Axe’s Jelena Prescott, broke away as the lead pack. Ford and Prescott gave Morris everything he could handle, but he was able to hold them off.
Still, Ford finished with a time of 11:54.
For Ford, racing against Morris brought back memories of their junior high track days.
“We would race the two-mile together, so it was great to do that one more time,” Ford said. “I hadn’t raced against him since 8th grade, so it was really cool to remember the old times.”
Added Ford: “I was really happy. I didn’t necessarily push myself to the max, but my times were still really good, so that gives me hope and confidence.”
Competing last Tuesday was Ford’s last night in Michigan, as she was set to leave for Dalton, Georgia, where she will run cross country and track & field for Dalton State College.
“I called my coach and he thought it was a really good idea to do this event. He was very happy with my times,” Ford said. “I came off that night really happy and excited that I got to see all my friends before I left.”
The final event of the night saw Ford, Morris and Prescott team with Kingston’s Danielle Crisman for a mixed 4×400 relay.
“That was really fun,” Ford said. “It didn’t matter how well we did. It was a relay team with people I would have never had a chance to run with.”
In track & field, the meets become a community of athletes making new friends. The 2020 Track Showcase as no different.
“I will remember the camaraderie,” Ford said. “I will always remember how everyone was smiling and laughing and supporting each other. It really made me excited to see everyone.”
She added: “It was really nice to be able to do that. We never thought we would get a chance to be out on the track again, wearing our high school uniforms. It really provided a chance to close that door on our high school careers.”