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Mike Riehls

Meier twins set for life at Duke


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The Meier twins, Hannah on the left and Haley, have set dozens of cross-country and track and field records, during their four years at Grosse Pointe South. photo by Dana Kaiser.

July 11, 2013
Prior to the start of the 2009-10 school year, the Grosse Pointe South girls' cross-country and track teams had enjoyed tremendous success.

The South teams had numerous top-10 state finishes, more than 80 combined league and state regional titles, and had never experienced a losing season (a combined 540-31 dual meet mark) since the teams began in the fall of 1979.

This level of achievement, with the addition of two new freshmen sisters, would soon change, and for the better.

Freshman twins, Hannah and Haley Meier, put on South uniforms for the first time in the fall of 2009. They joined a high school cross-country team of 120 young women and soon distinguished themselves as two of the premier distance runners in South history.

It would not take long to distinguish themselves among the very elite of all time at the state and national levels.

"Haley and Hannah came to our first practices with great energy and an eagerness to contribute from day one," South girls' cross-country and track and field head coach Steve Zaranek said. "We could tell something special was on the horizon for these two and for our teams. What stood out very clearly was that they truly wanted to be part of the team. They wanted to give.

"Haley and Hannah got a great start in the CYO program at St. Paul. They had tasted success and already knew that the team came first. The coaches at St. Paul did a wonderful job preparing the girls for high school."

Four years and eight seasons of cross country and track later, the accomplishments of these two phenomenal runners is unmistakable.

"They rewrote the record books at South, in Michigan, and even at the national level," Zaranek said. "Hannah and Haley are the most versatile runners our state has ever seen. No question about it. They drew crowds and had a legion of followers wherever we went to compete. They raced to the highest of expectations and never lowered their standards."

And always, the team came first. At South, girls track and cross country are two extremely passionate sports. More than 100 girls join these teams each year.

"Track and cross-country are very individualist sports," Zaranek said. "To be successful, you must be self-motivated. To be successful at this, you must be intelligent. Our team GPA every year hovers around 3.7.

"We get these very smart girls and it breeds success. What we do as coaches is take these bright, self-motivated young women and allow them the opportunity to create a team environment we feel is second to none. We thrive on the team concept. Hannah and Haley were the ultimate team players from the start."

In their four years, the Meier girls helped the track and cross-country teams accomplish a perfect 84-0 dual meet mark, eight state regional titles, eight conference titles, one state runner-up title and four state Division 1 championships.

In track, the Blue Devils broke records wherever they competed.

This past spring, 11 of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division records fell in just one championship meet.

During the past four years, Hannah and Haley led a barrage of record-breaking performances that set a total of 112 new all-time marks at various competitions.

At South, the all-time school records fell at a frantic pace.

Haley and Hannah are directly involved in seven school records — these school records are better than just about every state record — coast to coast.

While the Meier girls were breaking all the distance records (Hannah, alone, holds the records in the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs), South teammates did their jobs in the other events.

What may have been the No. 1 team performance for South was the national record-setting performance by Kelsie Schwartz, Ersula Farrow and the Meiers.

At the 2012 state finals, the four combined to run the 3,200-relay in 8:48.2. This performance smashed the state record by a jaw dropping 17 seconds and established a new all-time United States National Federation record. After running this race (the first race of the meet) the girls went on to compete in three more events helping South win the state title.

These four have also combined to win national titles in various distance relays and have several top three all-time national performances in such events as the distance medley relay and the mile relay.

In addition, Hannah has been a national champion multiple times in the 800, 1,600 and mile runs. Hannah was also chosen to compete on USA world teams and raced in Spain and France.

On the national level, Hannah was runner-up in the mile in the New Balance Indoor Nationals (earned All-American status), runner-up in the mile run at the Adidas Grand Prix Dram Mile, winnerof the 800-run in the Brooks PR National Invitational, as well as the Nike Elite Mile Run (2012).

Hannah also won or was runner-up in several other high profile national running events.

State championships have been the Blue Devils' signature the past four years.

In track, South finished fourth out of 150 Division 1 teams in the spring of 2010.

The girls then proceeded to win three consecutive state titles (2011 thru 2013). In cross country, again out of 150 division 1 teams, the Meier girls helped the Blue Devils place sixth, third, second and first the past four years.

Individually, Haley and Hannah in their four years, raced to an astounding 35 All-State performances in track and cross country. Hannah holds the state records in the 800, 1,500, 1,600 and mile runs and was just named, for the third straight year, the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year.

The state coaches association (MITCA) also named Hannah Miss Track & Field for 2013.

"Hannah and Haley did things the proper way," Zaranek said. "They always knew that hard work was at the core of their success. They always knew that being a great teammate came first.

"They always knew the importance of being humble and gracious. They understood sportsmanship — that is was not just for show.

"We had fun over these past eight seasons. These are times we will all remember — and always remember with a smile."

The Duke University Blue Devils, with one of the strongest distance programs in the nation, is now on the horizon for the Meier sisters.

Several high-profile Division 1 programs recruited the girls, but they chose to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference with Duke.

"They are prepared and they are ready for this next level," Zaranek said. "Their best years are still very much ahead and it will be fun to watch. Hannah and Haley have been a dream to coach and South and our Grosse Pointe community are very fortunate to have been represented by these incredible young women."

The girls report to Duke in August.

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