I mistakenly skipped over Region 13 and instead started on 14 before realizing the error. But boy am I glad I worked on this one, it is LOADED. And it’s not just the EGR girls. Eliminate them and you have to be in the 20:45 range to even think about qualifying. With them, you’ve gotta break 20. To be blunt, the team battle will likely be boring. You have three top-5 teams, and then no one else is ranked. And of those top-5, East Grand Rapids is clearly in their own league. I hope they face off against Pioneer at some point this season.
Ranked Teams: East Grand Rapids (1), Lansing Catholic (4), St. Johns (5)
- Jaden Theis, Lansing Catholic
- Taryn Chapko, St. Johns
- Anna Petr, East Grand Rapids
- Ainsley Workman, East Grand Rapids
- Margaret Coney, East Grand Rapids
Hard to believe that a girl who’s run multiple 18:3x times isn’t top-3 here, but that’s the reality of this region. Margaret dropped some serious time to finish her junior year. Her PR came from the regional race, an 18:34. More impressively, she was able to go 18:38 at State. Also, she will kick you down on any homestretch.
- Katie Hessler, East Grand Rapids
Late October, Katie reached down deep and flashed some of her true potential. Her season had a few great performances, Otsego Bulldog and Bath, but her regional race was her first time under 19:00. She followed that up with an even better State meet. All in all, she dropped 52 seconds from her sophomore year, over a minute when adjusting for course.
- Lauren Hunter, Haslett
On the middle school level, Lauren was unbeaten last year. As we all know, courses run differently. Different lengths, conditions, competitions. Lauren was so precise, only one race outside of the 11:50-12:10 range. She did compete at the Mideast qualifier, running 19:09. Her track track record was unblemished as well, 2:23/5:19/11:54 (11:35 PR).
- Faith Schafer, Williamston
Faith hasn’t been a world beater while at Williamston, but her consistency is something to marvel at. She’s been a state qualifier three times now, all three them from finishes between 10th and 12th place. Last season had her best State performance, where she was 61st.
- Lucy Petee, Mason
Lucy has always been a 400/800 star. She began her career running 60/2:17, she’s now moved to the 58/2:14 realm. She’s shown some XC ability in the past, breaking 19:00 a few times in 2017. She’s as good a bet as any to get back there.
The boys’ side is similarly stacked. Not only does one as an individual need to be sub-17 to be in the qualifying conversation, but SIX top-25 teams are present here. Poor dang Lansing Catholic, Ionia, and Forest Hills Eastern. There might be some other teams prone to an upset, but the top teams here rely on their pack more than their individuals (even with Evan Bishop).
Ranked Teams: Haslett (2), East Grand Rapids (5), St. Johns (8), Lansing Catholic (15), Ionia (16), Forest Hills Eastern (22)
- Evan Bishop, East Grand Rapids
- Ethan Rockburn, Belding
Starting at Shepherd’s Bluejay Invite, Ethan had a steady string of mid-16 races. Most impressive of which was probably the last one, a 16:23 (20th) at States. He’s also your defending regional champ, which obviously will be a tough task to repeat. It will still take a fight to give that up. Concentrated more on the 1600m in track, ended up running 4:28.
- Ben Clason, Forest Hills Eastern
Ben would make a good candidate for the massive improvement category. In most of his freshman races, Ben hovered in the 19:00 range. By the end of the year, he was able to drop down under 18 at Otsego. Last season, Ben started in the same time zone but ended in the 16’s. He had another outstanding race at Otsego, his 16:30 placed 10th and he was 14th in the always tough Region 11. Really showed his mettle in track, going 9:42 in the 3200m.
- Danny Ezzo, Haslett
Danny and his Haslett teammates should be close to interchangeable this season. He’s their highest returner from States and Greater Lansing. Greater Lansing was his best race of the season, where he went 16:23 and finished 5th.
- Jacob Dennis, St. Johns
Not often I’ll put a junior here, but Jacob made such a dramatic improvement that he warrants mentioning. He started off his career as a freshman running 20:51 at Spartan. It was a little into his season this time around, but he ran 17:18 at the same race. He largely ran around that time for a majority of the season, but made a serious drop at regionals, going 16:35.
- Josiah Magley, Ionia
Other upcoming sophomores such as Espen Lehnst and Nathan Alford could easily be picked here, this is just the biggest surprise given his XC season. And it wasn’t much of a surprise, Magley in the high 17’s for a good bit of the year. Then he turned around and went 4:42/10:04 on the track. Wouldn’t be shocked if he, along with others, is in the mid-16’s this season. What a region.