Cross country is made up of runners and coaches and parents and supporters. All of those involved in a program are actual people. People living their day to day lives and showing up to practice, race, cheer, encourage, and lead. I love the numbers, digging deep to make sense of it all, but the people make up the sport.
The last few weeks of the season are a time of championships and trophies and in many of these meets, I attempted some projections. Throughout this offseason, I want to review those projections and share stories of those who performed against those projections. I’ll do so in chronological order, beginning with this Berrien County Meet.
Girls: 46 sec.
Boys: 30 sec.
Girls Top 5: 4 of 5
Boys Top 5: 4 of 5
Girls Medal Stand: 18 of 25
Boys Medal Stand: 18 of 25
By the time of this preview, Bridgman’s quality had been known. Prior to the season, I had projected them 17th, but by late September, they had risen to the top spot. That rise largely came through two factors, a great showing at the Shamrock Invite and Arie Hackett. I’ll delve into those girls more later, they’re great.
Two teams that moved up a bit from the projections were Berrien Springs and St. Joseph. McKenzie Geralds was the big mover for Berrien Springs, she PRed by over a minute. Then the next week at Portage, dropped another minute! Lauren Koch of St. Joseph followed a similar trajectory, PRing by 50 seconds here, then dropping another 85 seconds the next week.
Judging by that, one could assume the course was a little slow. Given that Portage runs fairly close to the baseline, it follows that those two girls continued to improve relative to others as the season wore on.
Berrien Springs lived up to these projections. They were hit with some rough news to begin the summer. The Shamrocks had steadily been moving up in the Division 3 ranks, now were fighting for a spot out of regionals in Division 2. Of those 149 teams in Division 2, only one had a lower enrollment. Must have been motivating as they successfully qualified, then finished 18th.
Their top guy, Ashton Sheline, has dropped time in each of his three seasons of cross. Coming into this race, he was projected to win, and win he did. A week later at Portage, he dropped a serious PR (16:22). That 16:22 continued a streak of constant improvement. Ashton has lofty, yet extremely attainable goals for next year.
All seven of St. Joseph’s boys outperformed their projections. Throughout his career, Michael Melvoin had been hovering around 19:00, mainly on the higher side of that barrier. Even with the tougher terrain, he was able to drift down into the 18:30’s. That trend continued throughout, PRs happened, sub-18 happened. Hopefully this begets future success.