Benton Harbor’s Smith joins Roadrunners

DOWAGIAC — Benton Harbor High School’s India Smith signed a letter of intent to run cross country at Southwestern Michigan College last Saturday.

Smith, 19, joins Elkhart Concord’s Abby Lee, Union’s Raegan Del Guanto, Mishawaka’s Bailee Shambaugh and Coloma’s Vanessa Crisenbery committed to the Roadrunners for fall 2021, along with nine men, Thomas Lorenz, of Hillsdale, Ethan Saylor, of Dowagiac, Levi Hall, of Mishawaka, Alex Blanton, of Plainwell, Robert “Buster” Ward, William Westphal and Ben Gillesby, of Cassopolis, Gavin Smith, of Decatur, and Samuel Reed-Loomis, of Otsego.

Makayle Weedon of Paw Paw will help manage Head Coach Zac Sartori’s team.

Smith ran track through middle school in Louisiana.

“My mom ran track in school,” Smith said. “It’s like a family thing. I tried out for cheer and one day I ran with them and the coach came to me and said, ‘You’ve got pretty good speed. Have you ever run track?’ The only other sport I get into is volleyball. I’m little and skinny, just a normal girl, and I think I can take advantage of that.”

“[Running] is peace of mind to me,” Smith said. “Me, I’m an overthinker and worry too much. When I run, I don’t think about anything. There’s a big field down the street from me that I jog around in the morning before work” at Harbor Graphics, a screen printer and embroiderer which has been producing custom apparel, signs, banners and promotional items since 1993.

Smith’s grade-point average qualified her for Beta Club, which promotes academic achievement, character, service and leadership.

She plans to study nursing.

‘I have a soft spot for kids. That’s what I want to do as I get older is help people and to travel around the world to places I’ve never been. I want to explore,” she said. “I look everything up on the internet and read up on it, so I read about travel nursing to see what I would have to do to reach my goals.”

Asked how she connected with SMC, Smith replied, “It’s funny because I wasn’t really thinking about college until my parents brought it up to me my junior year of high school. My cousin told me about SMC, so I looked it up. It seemed like it could be good for me. When I visited, I really liked it. [Cross country] is something I want to do, even though I’m nervous.”

She is the only girl of five children and lives in Benton Harbor with her mother.

“I’m the second-oldest,” she said. Her father lives in South Bend.

Her exposure to her teammates so far amounts to participating in a group chat online the day before, but “they seem pretty cool.”

“A lot of people ask me about my name,” Smith said, “but I don’t have a story.”

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