As will often happen with Division 4 regions in our great north country, many teams can bunch up near the front. Here, the projections have 5 teams within 40 points of one another. A freshman, a newcomer, or an unseen summer work ethic can all factor in shaking up what we’d expect.
East Jordan has an established team, a fact that will often lead you in divisions of low enrollments. Alie Pennington and Molly Kitson are upperclasswomen, sticking it out with the program for years. They’ve consistently been in the low 21:00 range. Molly was 4th here last year and spends track season sprinting around. Alie was 8th and her 1600m time indicates she has some room for improvement in XC.
Johannesburg-Lewiston provides some contrast. Of their projected top 7, nearly all are in their initial 2 years of the program. Incoming freshwoman Adelaida Gascho has run sub-13 a few times as a middle schooler. She also knocked out a 5:42 this track season. Sydney Townsend is the lone upperclasswoman on this squad, she finished 2nd here last year.
Ellsworth is one of those teams that has dipped into the 8th grade pool. An example of a successful girl running above her age is Maia Romeyn. Maia finished 7th here, 18th at Class D (love this concept of a meet by the way). Her 12:36 in track indicates some improvement has been made, if so, she could make her way into the top 3 this time around.
For Gaylord St. Mary and Rogers City, a girl coming out of nowhere can produce an impact that may not be felt in larger fields. Alivia Zaremba is an example of that, as an 8th grader she was 5th last year, she went on to narrowly miss All-State, but run a 13 second PR in the process at 20:36. Can they find another 8th grader? For Rogers City, it might be Samantha Schlak coming in and having a freshman season similar to Morgan Baller.
After missing out last year, hopefully Teegan Dawson will be able to compete at regionals. She had a slightly better start than her season in 2017, where she qualified for States with a 13th place finish. I’m confident she can make that happen again. A 6:09 1600m (14 second PR) can extrapolate out to another top-15 finish.
East Jordan is likely the main challenger to Breckenridge this fall. They’re a senior-laden team, ready to lay it all on the line in what will be, for many of them, their final race together. I’d worry about being foreboding here, but this is a strong group that should walk through regionals. I’m always looking for those runners who have shown progression throughout their career. Their top 4 are great examples of this and I don’t think one stands out above the other, so I’m listing them all: Ethan Nachazel, Aaron Nachazel, Ben Hardy, and Caleb Carson.
Johannesburg-Lewiston is led by one of the stronger runners Up North in Carlos Gascho. Carlos won this region last year, then finished 8th at MIS. He followed that up with two All-State performances in track, 5th in the 800/3200. I always chuckle when people think it’s impossible to double at a State meet. Carlos pulled off one of the harder ones and he’s still kicking.
Indian River Inland Lakes has a small, but capable team. They’ve been helped by two major improvements. Charlie Kennedy dropped 40 seconds last year, breaking 18:00 for the first time at regionals (7th place), then repeating that performance the following week. Hunter Bishop had the incredible drop from 21+ minutes as a freshman to the 18’s the past two years. He should be in that range again this year.
Now that Troy Athens’s jett li has gone and graduated, it’s time to find a new favorite name and I think I’ve found mine. Hailing from Onaway, none other than Jager Mix! Since this is a high school site, I will not divulge my favorite mixers for a certain beverage, but I will tell you that he ran exceptionally well for a freshman. 18:33 last year, unfortunately he did not have a great race here at regionals, but I’m hoping he redeems himself this year.