Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Head Coach Zac Sartori welcomes Cross County Manager Makayle Weedon

Makayle Weedon, Zac Sartori

Makayle Weedon Named Manager of SMC Cross Country Team

Published on July 16, 2021 - 2 p.m.

Paw Paw High School’s Makayle Weedon will manage the first season of Southwestern Michigan College’s reborn NJCAA cross country team this fall.

Weedon, 18, is a member of the Class of 2021, but because of her participation in the Early Middle College or “fifth year” program to simultaneously earn her associate degree, the runner will not be eligible to officially race in NJCAA competitions.

SMC’s partnership with select high schools allows students to earn a full associate degree of 60+ credits by extending high school graduation by one year. Students in the program take SMC and high school classes simultaneously through their senior year, then study at the college fulltime during the additional fifth year.

Students walk with their original high school class at graduation and participate in all senior-year activities, then are formally granted both their high school diploma and associate degree at the end of year five. “It helps you get ahead,” the graphic design major with a business minor said of Early Middle College. “I want to start my own business and design my own brand. I took woodshop in high school and I also like building wood projects,” such as an American flag table. “I’m very versatile. I do a bit of everything.”

Photography is another interest. She enters still exhibits at the Cass County Fair and used to show horses.

Weedon will be a Roadrunner and can travel and train with her teammates, which she sees as a second chance at the senior year the coronavirus pandemic’s isolation denied her.

“We barely had a senior year, so I didn’t really miss out on much,” she said. “We didn’t have any school dances or anything, so I was happy I was coming here. It probably would have been hard seeing my friends posting fun high school things, but that wasn’t the case with COVID.”

“I’m excited because I still get the opportunity to meet new people and be a part of the team. The only thing I can’t do is run in the meets,” Weedon said. “Cross country was my favorite sport. I did mid-distance in track. Running in the woods gives my head a break from school.”

“We’re excited to have her,” SMC Head Coach Zac Sartori said. As manager, she will work closely with the coaches on such tasks as charting splits. “Split” is a racing term for the time it takes to complete a specific distance. Times at each mile marker are called “mile splits.” Splits are used to gauge whether runners are pacing evenly and staying on track to hit specific goals.

Weedon has participated in track and cross country since sixth grade, played basketball for three years and bowled for the Red Wolves, rode horses growing up and played soccer as a youngster.

She was joined at the Student Activity Center (SAC) on the Dowagiac campus July 14 by her mother, Blair Settle, an SMC alumna. Makayle is the oldest of three children. Her sister is 17, her brother 13.

 “I love it here at SMC,” Weedon said.  “The campus is amazing. The residence halls make it feel like a university. When I toured it I said, ‘I’m definitely coming here.’ We have the SAC and I had really amazing teachers. Sam Walker was the perfect teacher for graphic design. I had a great time last semester, even with COVID.”

Next year Weedon anticipates transferring to Northern Michigan University in Marquette. “They have a great art school that is really big into graphic design. It has everything that I want. I love it up there, too!”