One only has to peek at their athleticnet homepage to realize Ubly’s success over the years. At States, they were runner-ups two years ago and 8th last year. They’re favorites for another regional championship and are in the running for another top-10 finish this year. They’re led at the top by Josie Gusa. Josie broke 20 for the first time here last year and went on to finish 23rd a week later. For a Division 4 school, they have great numbers and what looks to be a strong MS feeder program. Two runners coming into 9th grade should make an impact, Maze Gusa and Abigail Guza.
Breckenridge benefits from moving out of a hellish mid-Michigan region. They’d undoubtedly be in a battle with Carson City for the final spot there, and it would be a shame to leave out a top-15 team. Annie Laurenz must be extremely athletic. She’s a record-setting hurdler for their track team, then turns around to run cross and be an excellent front runner. Watch out for Elizabeth Snow, she was able to set a significant 3200m PR, and if that carries over, she could be close to the top 10 here.
I feel Deckerville and Owendale-Gagetown both deserve a spot at State finals. I consider myself a maps nerd and I didn’t even know the towns of Owendale or Gagetown existed. That’s a credit to their coaches, able to build a program from a little-known area. They’ll benefit from the Haldane family, Madelyn Haldane being the best runner of the bunch. Madelyn was able to finish 10th here last year. Deckerville benefits from the Sanford family. The oldest, Abigail, has been a stud for them for her first two years. She also pole vaults. We saw a 100/800 double earlier, now a distance/pole vault. Kids these days.
Riley Ford is the defending regional champion. She finished 5th at MIS last year and dropped a significant amount of time from her 1600m, 5:41 to 5:16.
Both Makara Kramer and Haley Rowbotham qualified out of this region last year and ended up finishing All-State.
It’s no secret that I feel Breckenridge is the #1 returning team on the boys’ side of Division 4. They’ve got state meet experience, young runners, and a coach who cares. Mason Sumner was arguably the best freshman outside of Metro Detroit. He nearly broke 16:00 at an early MSAC Jamboree and recorded top 10 finishes at Holly, Portage, Carson City, and States. Not to mention taking some titles at Lancer and Shepherd’s John Bruder Classic. Speaking of rising sophomores, don’t sleep on Trent Carter, who flirted with the 17 min. barrier in the latter stages of the year. An athlete that could seal the deal for Breckenridge is Jonathan Markley. Thanks to my buddy Michigan XC Nerd for pointing his track times out, 4:51 after running in the high 18’s last fall.
Unionville-Sebewaing is another top 5 team in this region. They follow a similar pattern, a good mix of under and upperclassmen. Ty Pavlichek had some breakout races last year, his 24th at Holly and 31st at Wagener Park stand out. Bentley Alderson was an All-State performer, finishing 12th. That momentum carried into track, where he dropped a 4:35 1600m. I don’t feel Sumner is touchable here, but if he builds on that, 2nd place is within reach here.
From there, it’s between Mayville and Deckerville. Deckerville really has the… deck stacked against them? Tough to be placed in a region with three top 10 teams. Deckerville has potential, one runner that could vault them into contention is Kendall Dumaw. He won some middle school meets, Cass City and Laker. Finished no lower than 9th on the season and broke 12:00. I err on the extremely conservative side when projecting incoming freshman. I currently have him as Deckerville’s 4th runner. For comparison, his brother, Brett Dumaw, ran slightly slower in middle school and 18:14 as a freshman. Brett Tanton is another one that has shown potential. He’s gone under 5:20 the last two years, last year it didn’t translate, but could it happen this year?
Beating Mayville will still be tough. Wyatt Emmons will undoubtedly be top 5 here. Not only is he fast, he was remarkably consistent in the latter stages of the season, finishing 3rd here and 14th at MIS. Jerry Gilbert threatens to put two runners in front of Deckerville’s first. The race, as many do, will come down runners 3-7.
A few other runners stand out to my eye. Ronny Hudson has dropped 3 minutes from his freshman to junior years. He was 7th here last year.
Matthew Halifax is similar, to a lesser degree. 20:05 to 18:34 last year. His 5:05 in track suggests he’s still on an upward trajectory.