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Mike Smith Finalist for National Coaching Award

Smith has guided the girls' cross country team to 16 straight league titles and 11 straight regional championships.

Saline girls' cross country coach Mike Smith is National High School Athletic Coaches Association finalist for Cross County Coach of the Year.

Smith, who became a teacher at Saline Area Schools in 1977 and retired from the high school as an English and history teacher, has coached Saline athletes for 35 years.

Smith has coached the high school girls' cross country team to 16 consecutive league championships and 10 regional championships. At the state meet, the girls' team has 11 straight top 10 finishes, winning it all in 2009.

Smith has been Division 1 Coach of the Year several times and was elected into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

"Mike Smith represents what interscholastic athletics should be about: Hard work, dedication, focus on academics, and commitment to a team. But more importantly, coach Smith has formed life-long, positive relationships," said Saline High School athletic director Rob White about Smith before the coach was honored at last fall's Legends meet. "These positive relationships have changed and impacted the lives of countless student athletes. He has set the standard of what it means to be a coach in Saline — a true legend.”

The awards will be presented July 25 at the National High School Athletics Coaches Association awards banquet in Fargo, ND.

Other finalists for the award are Arleigh Duff, Nonnewaug High School; Mark Garberg, Centerville Public School; Rex Hohnholt, Saratoga High School; Toby Hummingbird, Coweta; Richard Rothman, Spanish River Community High School; Charles Seurer, Hoven High School; and Cynthia Wagner, Wahlert Catholic Central High School.

Other Michigan coaches up for awards are, Larry Rueger, assistant boach, Fruitport High School; Michael Roy, athletic director, Vicksburg High School; Samuel McElreath, baseball coach, St. Clair high School; Dorene Ingalis, girls' basketball coach, St. Ignace LaSalle High School; Anthony Magni, boys' cross country coach, Detroit Catholic Central High School;  George Bitner, golf coach, Spring Lake High School; Al Roberts, softball, Clinton High School; John Cunningham, gymnastics coach (special sport award), Canton High School, Bob Crosby, swimming, West Bloomfield High School; Eric Gajar, tennis coach, Ann Arbor Greenhills; Tony Mifsud, girls' track and field coach, Dearborn Divine Child; Michael Jurasek, boys' track and field coach, Albion High School; Victoria Groat, volleyball coach, St. Phillips Catholic Central; and Todd Cheney, wrestling coach, Hartland high School.

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