Washtenaw GC Was Once A Cross Country Championship Course

Washtenaw Golf Club Was A Cross Country Championship Course From 1923 to 1970.

From 1923 to at least 1970, Washtenaw Country Club hosted the annual Michigan High School Cross Country Championships.

As anyone who has walked the hills at Washtenaw know, it had to be a challenging run.

The Cross Country championships also apparently were quite a big deal. Ludington Daily News sports writer Jim Shoup captured the spectacle in an article from November 1970:

The State CC Meet

Ypsilanti – It’s quite a site, this colonial styled, immense clubbouse and colorful roling green.

Here is a rippling brook running through the landsacape and dotted clumps of woodlots to add spice.

The event wasn’t any Buick Open or PGA tournament. There are no Gary Players or Arnold Palmers. In fact, few golfers are on the course and it is not an amateur’s invitational either.

What just took place was the mammoth, high school state cross-country championship.

Mammoth it was, as five separate races were run. Class A and B each had two races … for teams which qualified from the regionals and one for “individuals” who place high in the regionals but not members of competing teams … and a single race for C-D teams and high individuals.

In Class A, 20 schools had a total of 140 runners scheduled for the team race and 90 boys were entered in the Individual A. Class B had 18 schools with 126 runners and 90 more in the Individual meet.

Class C-D, which combined the team and Individuals had 141 running at one time.

If my math isn’t too far out, there were just under 600 runners trying for the state medals, championships, and if nothing else, trying to make a good showing and keep from getting spiked by the other runners.

Estimates run from 5,000 to 10,000 the number of people on the course. That includes runners, coaches, sports writers, spectators, cheerleaders and peop bands.

Did I say cheerleaders and pep bands?

That’s right!

I could hardly believe it as this was my first time covering this meet. Cheerleaders were dressed in their finest school colors and a couple pf peop bands let loose with music as their favorite runners came pounding up the hill to the finish.

And that was some hill! Just before the tape, the boys had to run up a rather steep hill, turn half way up and continue heavenward until reaching the waving flags and whtie painted gates fo the finish.

And getting back to the crowd, some schools who apparently take cross-country as a steady appetite brought two and even three bus loads of students for cheering support!

Jim Shoup, Ludington Daily News, Nov. 9, 1970
Ludington Daily News, Nov. 9, 1970.

I am not sure when the club stopped hosting the championships. I have been unable to find any newspaper reference for Washtenaw after 1970. MHSAA records show that the 1981 CC championships were held at Flint-IMA Brookwood Golf Course, Oxford Country Club, Watervliet High School campus and Wyoming-Johnson Park.

Below are a few more articles chronicling the meets:

from The Herald Palladium, Nov. 6, 1961
Hillsdale Daily news, October 31, 1969
Traverse City Record-Eagle, Nov. 4, 1963
Holland Evening Sentinel, November 7, 1955

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