Seven regions in seven days. That’s all we’ve got left. I had a great day at the XC Mini Clinic, learned quite a bit for when I eventually coach, but also thought up some things and stats I want to bring forth to promote the sport this season. But in order to do that, I have to follow through on my promise to preview all regions. And that involves posting one on a Friday night. Hopefully some of you stat geeks out there will find this interesting.
The Saugatuck team in general is just a great operation. Both boys and girls have had recent success. They move back up to Division 3 this time around after a two-year stint in Division 4. Their girls have had four straight top-5 finishes in either division. I don’t think that streak will last, but the program is set up for success. High participation and a track record of improvement give stability, and of course pressure to live up to previous years should fuel their entire season. Galesburg-Augusta should be tough to crack. Their top three can compete with anyone, but it’s not as if it ends there, their 4th-7th should place higher than many respective runners from other teams.
Ranked Teams: Galesburg-Augusta (13), Bloomingdale (22), Saugatuck (24)
- Lauryn Coleman, Galesburg-Augusta
Lauryn’s October was extremely consistent. Starting at Portage and going through States, her times never deviated more than 20 seconds. That kind of consistency moves you up in these ratings, it’s much valued as a coach and fellow teammate as well. She ended up 3rd here and 40th at States. Her 11:57 on the track lends thought to the belief that she’ll be well into the 19’s this time around.
- Abigail Schlabach, Centreville
Abigail and Lauryn may as well be 1a and 1b. The separating factor seems to be Lauryn’s track season, but don’t discount head to head battles either. Abigail was 2nd in this region and 35th in the State.
- Aubree Sedore, Galesburg-Augusta
At her best, Aubree can be right there with Abigail and Lauryn. Her 20:00 at Mendon an example of that, as she beat both of them. The remainder of the year, it’s not as if she ran poorly or inconsistently. 33rd at Portage, 5th at regionals, times mainly in the mid to high 20’s. I’m excited to see if she can build on that Mendon performance this year.
- Aimee Sustaita, Bloomingdale
Aimee is only a junior, but she’s had a little improvement thus far in her career. She began her freshman year a tad late, debuting in 25:02. She ended up dropping almost 3.5 minutes from that time, all in all, a successful start for any freshman girl. Those drops didn’t stop there, as a sophomore she was able to dip into the 20’s, both at Otsego Bulldog and two SW10 Jamborees. If course conditions had been a bit drier, that would’ve happened at MIS as well.
- Jillian Vera, Saugatuck
Another rare case of a senior being a darkhorse. Jillian had a similar track season in 2019 to her 2017 season, especially in the 1600m. Following that (freshman) season, she went on to run 19:55 in XC. Saugatuck will need her to be that kind of frontrunner that she’s capable of becoming.
Once again, Saugatuck. But you have trophies, results, and returning studs, you’ll end up being rated or ranked high. On the state level, it will likely be between them and Hanover-Horton (the Charlevoix kids are confident they’ll be in the mix too). As you’ve noticed, I’m scoring it out as I go, but my gut tells me H-H will have a slight edge based on the strength of their 3rd-5th. But the other factor is Saugatuck’s ability to develop runners that are deep into their career. Through his junior year, was Corey Gorgas NAU material? Maybe, maybe not. He answered that with a resounding yes during this past season. Many of their kids could step up and likely will.
Ranked Teams: Saugatuck (1), Bloomingdale (12)
- Nik Pettinga, Saugatuck
- Max Sharnas, Saugatuck
An unfortunate aspect of Saugatuck moving up is we don’t get to see Max and Mason Sumner duel for the next three years. Going into the season, there was a debate over who was the better runner. In cross, I believe Sumner won the debate. In track, the argument could go either way. Max’s string of performances near or under 17:00 in XC were great, but going 4:34/9:47 on the track shows he’s got more coming.
- Alvaro Martinez, Bangor
With Ashton Sheline and Berrien Springs moving on to the tougher pastures of D2, Alvaro is the highest returning runner here. His 16:47, a PR, was good for 2nd here. He nearly matched that at MIS, a 16:52, good for 26th.
- Walker Barz, Buchanan
Although he lacked the early season times that Sharnas had, Walker ended at nearly the same level. Buchanan ran many races last year and it’s impressive that a freshman was able to peak, that peak being very dramatic as well. After eight early season races near 18:00, Barz ran a 17:33 at Berrien County, not a course that runs particularly fast. By season’s end, he was at 17:04. Should also mention his 10:07 on the track. I have all four of these boys as All-Staters.
- Zach Trainor, Bangor
It should be very apparent; I love when kids drop serious time. Maybe it’s realizing talent, could be having no talent other than the ability to work hard. I’m not sure what happened between Zach’s freshman and sophomore year, but I’d love to find out. More than 1:30 was subtracted from his previous best. He ran 17:47 twice, most importantly at this regional, where he placed 13th.
- Joe Furlan, Bloomingdale
Joe made some serious leaps on the track this spring. 2:14 to 2:04, 4:45 to 4:36, and 11:22 to 10:29. The 16 and 32 suggest he’s capable of running into the mid-16’s. His best last year was 17:04 at Otsego.