By Jeff Steers
(September 19, 2021 8:00 AM) Grass Lake High School athletes Matt Rankin and Paige Hubert put the dual – or duel – in dual sports.
Both are the top performers in their respective sports – Hubert in girls’ golf and Rankin in boys’ cross country – but they also excel as dual athletes in the sport of equestrian.
That combination is helping the Warriors to have a chance to qualify for the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association regional round for the first time in five seasons, according to Coach Sheila Shortz.
Grass Lake was second heading into the District 10’s third and final event today (Sunday) at Lenawee County Fairgrounds.
The top two teams advance to the regional round Oct. 1-3 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.
“Yes, he’s pretty good,” Hubert said with a smile on her face when asked about Rankin. “We have been friends since kindergarten … and we are both very competitive.”
Rankin is competitive even in the non-sport realm. He would like to create a Euchre league for students to play during forum – a study hall-type period at Grass Lake High School.
Together the duo has helped put the Warriors near the top in the sport of equestrian.
Hubert took first place in two events and four second place finishes in four other events during an equestrian event on Sept. 12.
Rankin placed in all of his events and had three second-place finishes.
Others on the team who also excelled during the most recent equestrian event including seniors Cierra Chapo and Anna Schwerin, sophomore Katherine McClelland, and freshman Shandi Stark.
Some of the events include barrels, speed and action events, English riding, saddle seat, and bareback.
Hubert has been in the sport since age 6 but started to take an increased interest in the sport at age 12. She has a horse at her grandparent’s house and has the benefit of training at an indoor or outdoor facility through her coach.
“I normally go to golf practice and then equestrian,” Hubert said. “I practice on my own sometimes with a couple of friends for safety purposes.”
Hubert would like to continue equestrian in college, but some of the universities she is interested in do not have equestrian programs.
“I can always compete on the weekends outside of school,” Hubert said.
She would like to study to be a veterinarian or train horses.
She maintains a grade point average of 3.8 and would like to attend Florida State or Michigan State University.
Hubert competes in golf, equestrian, bowling, and softball. She spent a lot of time this summer practicing for bowling, switching from basketball to the sport. She says sports teaches student-athletes good social skills.
“A lot of kids in class are quiet and you don’t talk to them much,” Hubert said. “In sports you have to communicate for team bonding.”
Hubert is the top golfer for the Warriors this season and is just outside the top eight in the Cascades Conference for first-team all-conference honors.
Rankin may have her trumped when it comes to the number of sports he competes in. The senior competes in cross country, equestrian, wrestling, track and field, and golf. He expects to graduate with 15 varsity letters in the spring of 2022.
He has been riding horses since seventh grade.
“My sister and I went to Church camp, and she rode horses,” Rankin said. “My dad bought horses for us to ride and mentioned I should join the equestrian team.”
The family lives near the Waterloo-Pinckney Trails so Rankin has a chance to ride his horse – Spirit – quite often as the horse is housed in a barn on the property.
Rankin competes in a number of events including a two-man relay event with Hubert. He enjoys the challenge of having his horse compete in equestrian events.
“It is really difficult because you can’t talk to a horse like you talk to a person,” Rankin said. “You have to get them in the proper mindset.
“If they are having a bad day, they won’t do what you want.”
Rankin has been the top cross country runner at GLHS since his sophomore season. That is when he discovered that it takes a little more to be at the top.
“You can’t just show up, do what you are told, and be the best,” Rankin said. “You have to put in the extra work.
“That hit me sophomore year in cross country, and I put in the extra work.”
This summer he ran approximately 250 miles, including numerous workouts at Ice Mountain.
“It is a hill about a half-mile long,” Rankin said. “Sometimes I would run up it and jog back down up to eight times.”
Rankin finished as a first-team all-conference cross country runner for the Warriors in 2020. He is expected to be one of the top Cascades Conference runners again this season.
Rankin would like to attend Michigan State University to study food science and business. His ultimate goal is to open a chain of restaurants.
The senior maintains a grade point average of 3.9 at GLHS. Lessons learned in his various sports may come in handy in the future.
“Sports teaches you determination,” Rankin said. “You have to put in the work when nobody else is looking.”
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