A few teams surprised me, either entering the rankings when I didn’t anticipate seeing them or being ranked higher than I predicted. Here’s some of the people that helped them get there:
Colltion Vine, Breckenridge (159.7) – Improved from a 129.6 rating last year. Ran 19+ at Portage, a fair course and ended the year with a 18:47 at the Scottie Classic. In Ithaca, on a muddy day where Ransom Allen could only muster a 16:30, goes 18:47. Another big contributor on this team is Weston Wise, not to mention two freshmen, Mason Sumner and Trent Carter.
Travis Lubbers, GR Covenant Christian (176.4) – Travis had a solid year last year with some inconsistent performances. Sparta and Allegan tempered expectations. I had him projected for a 160 (in the 18:00 range), but looks to be exceeding that. 17:41 (177.0) at Saranac, not an easy course by any stretch, his most impressive finish to date. Also, Caleb Potjer, a 29 point improvement thus far. This team has potential, much depth.
Espen Lehnst, Haslett (179.1) – I didn’t attempt to project freshmen, but I had seen his middle school times so this isn’t a shocker. It’s hard not to project out and think what the future holds, but now he’s helping Haslett to a potential top 10 finish. His 180.1 at Corunna is his best to date. Interesting to see how much he improves over the course of the season. Also look into Graham Foster.
Luke Schwartz, Romeo (191.9) – So much to say about Romeo. They’re obviously a machine. Graduate an extremely strong senior class and just reload. I’ve often witnessed a leadership void when a strong class leaves, the current team doesn’t realize the work they’ve put in and coasts the next year. Early returns (and incoming freshman talent) say otherwise. So, Luke Schwartz. 17:16 at Cass Benton, the endless uphill course. 73 second improvement from last year. Made the leap in track (4:37,10:14) and has continued that.
Hillsdale Academy’s newcomers: Makenna Barbury (80.4), Hannah Wilkinson (88.5), Sofia Matsukova-Kratt (75.8) - Props to these girls coming out for cross this fall. I’ve only found results for Makenna, who went 2:26/5:50 as a 9th grader last year. Very unexpected. Also should note that I included Megan Roberts in their team total. She appears to be an 8th grader, so this moves them down to 7th, and moves up Hudson, Pittsford, and Lansing Christian.
Libby Munderloh, St. Louis (151.3) – Libby, along with Mikenna Borie, has catapulted St. Louis into the D3 Top 25. Jacob Tanner correctly ranked them this summer, I did not. Good research, Jacob. Let’s use Amber Gall and Lainey Veenkant as reference points. At Chippewa Hills, Libby ran 30 seconds slower than Gall and 17 seconds faster than Veenkant. Amber ran 18:00 last year and Lainey, 18:12. Easy to imagine similar times for Libby.
McKinzie Winget, Imlay City (100.4) – Another great improvement here. As she’s a sprinter, really nothing in track spoke to this rating. Winget did dodge the beehives at Algonac last year to a 21:49 and I think she has sub-21 capability.
Antonia Vackaro, Oxford (116.3) – Oxford has always been the forgotten one of the Lake Orion and Clarkston triumvirate. Last year they expected to be on that level but fell short, this year their middle of the pack runners have all made leaps. Vackaro is one of many, improving over a minute from last year’s Golden Grizzly (where many of the top runners on the girls side ran slower). Oxford has potential for more, I think the Longs will move up as well.