A first for ACC

The Alpena Community College cross country team made history this season, becoming the first team in the school’s history to come away with Academic Team of the Year honors.

Throughout the 74 year history of ACC, the school has never had a team win the award and becoming the first team to do it was the cross country team’s main goal this season.

“It was our expectation since the beginning of the season to become the first Academic All-American team in school history,” ACC cross country coach Mark Jacobs said. “We talked about it every day; you go to college to get a degree. We worked together as a team and ACC has a ton of avenues for help and achieving this would not necessarily be a skill thing, but more of a will thing.”

The team finished with an overall team grade point average of 3.67. There were over 200 teams in the nation and the team finished fifth overall in terms of the award. There were also over 2,000 runners in the nation and 25 of which finished with 4.0 GPA’s; two of them were members of the ACC cross country team.

Four members of the ACC cross country team were Academic All-Americans. Nevin McHarg and Connor Wright both finished with 4.0 GPA’s. Alec Firack and Colin Wright were the other two runners that finished with Academic All-American honors.

Firack made history of his own, becoming the first two-time Academic All-American to attend ACC.

“It’s a great sense of pride knowing that all of the hard work that not only myself, but our team put in eventually paid off. Week to week it was kind of a battle, but we all worked hard towards the ultimate goal and in the end it was really awesome to accomplish,” Firack said.

Jacobs has put together a solid program at ACC in such a short time, recruiting young athletes from all over the state and focusing on improving them as athletes and individuals.

“First coming in I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I never ran with anyone since high school and I only had 10 runners on my team and graduating with 35 people coming from Pickford, I knew I had to be prepared to run in college, but I am happy to say that I had a great coach that helped me personally and our team as a whole,” Firack said.

The team was successful outside of the classroom as well, completing the season with its best finish ever as the Lumberjacks were seventh in the region out of 14 teams and have improved each of the past four years since Jacobs took over the revived program.

“During my first four years we have really set the foundation of the program both in and out of the classroom. I always said I would rather have a great kid that is willing to work and that is an average runner, than having a great runner that is an average kid and not willing to put in the work. I knew what was possible for this team and I’m just thrilled. I pushed them hard and they responded and worked hard,” Jacobs said.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.