Division 4 keeps with the theme of Saturday’s madness.
In any week or time period this fall, I had a different opinion on who would be the Boys Team Champ. Going into the season, it looked as if Saugatuck and Carson City-Crystal would compete for the crown. After a wonderful morning at Happy Acres, Webberville looked to move past those two. On September 19th, The/GR/Wyoming Potter’s House (seriously, they’ve changed their name on athletic.net three times in two years) faced off against Division 3 contender Grandville Calvin Christian and beat them 24-31. Meanwhile, Concord was finding its stride, Breckenridge was getting kids back from a listless summer, and Saugatuck was struggling to find a 5th runner.
Fast forward to early November and Kurtis Bronz has made the necessary improvements to be there for Saugatuck. He’s made about a 0:30-0:45 jump in terms of his ratings and is consistently running in the high-18’s.
Carson City-Crystal put forth their best performance of the year at Regionals. They handily beat Webberville, largely because Calvin Clark stepped up as their 5th runner and Jared Shepler ran one of his better races of the season.
Breckenridge is your defending champ. Their top three of Colttion Vine, Trent Carter, and Mason Sumner have all came in clutch on this stage. But such a question for their 4th-6th. All freshmen. Perhaps they are able to absorb all their training and PR. Perhaps they are stunned by the moment and it’s a learning experience.
Concord is Division 4’s version of Caro. In the middle of the season, I felt they were slept on. But their regional performance comparatively wasn’t as impressive. When they were on, boy were they ever on. Their absolute best day was at Stockbridge, taking home the trophy over teams such as Fowlerville, Leslie, and Stockbridge.
Webberville’s 3rd-5th runners have been very reliable all year. Brendan Peckens, Liam Wilder, and Lucas Bliesner will be able to pack up and finish before many of their competitors’ 4th/5th. I believe this is Coach Diener’s 2nd year with the Spartans and while this may not be the year, they’re a team to watch in the coming years.
Lezawe/Moses Osterink is curiously missing from Potter’s House’s roster for Saturday. By this point, we all can assume why. Unfortunately, he’s their top runner and is coming off a 16:34 (PR) at Regionals.
This boys individual race should be a doozy as well. An experienced field that’s all been here. I can’t even try to explain, but I want to give a shoutout to Nik Pettinga. Nik didn’t have the greatest closing stretch of his 2019 season, which resulted in him barely nabbing an All-State spot, when he had the potential to achieve much more. I had him ranked #9 coming into the season and he’s greatly exceeded that expectation, breaking 16:00 for the first time ever a few weeks back.
In my research over the winter, I noticed that Lansing Christian was going to add a freshman, Hope Tebben. The Pilgrims needed that one runner, in 2019 they had an outstanding top four and nothing behind that. I mean, literally, nothing behind that. Fast forward to this season, they’ve added Hope and multi-sport star, Mia Judd. Mia began the year in the 23’s, then has steadily moved into the high-20’s/mid-21’s.
Kalamazoo Christian can really pack up. In their victory in Region 32-4, the gap between their 1st and 5th runners was under 0:45. In the 20-21:00 range too, at Portage, which is a fair course.
Beal City is the mystery here. Dave King’s magic looms large in Division 4 lore. If you took just the ratings from their regional meet, they’d place between 100-110 points. A negative aspect of these ratings is they probably underrate teams that peak extra hard at the end of the year. There is a reason for that, as one race brings in a ton of variability and I’d rather grab a season worth of data. Expect less than 170 points from the Aggies.
Madison Volz has brought herself back from a difficult junior year. She’s re-learned her love for competition, and she sure has competed. Multiple sub-19 efforts, once at Turkeyville, and twice at DeWitt, a legitimate course. Regional champion, winner of her Greater Lansing race, and just a striking consistency. She’s in line for her fourth straight top-5 finish.
Makenna Scott is in line for her 2nd straight top-5 finish. Makenna has truly been peaking at the right time, dipping under 19:00 for the first time ever on October 13th at Benzie, then smashing that time at Regionals.
Sara Spalding and Aiden Harrand are both in their first years of running at the high school level. Okay, Spalding is a senior and Webberville record holder, and Harrand is a freshman and Buckley record holder.
Harrand was a middle school sensation, running 5:14 on the track and mid-11’s in her 8th grade cross country. That’s beginning to translate to cross, where she’s followed Makenna Scott into the 18’s. Spalding is a bit behind, but should be a clear 3rd here. Hopefully she’s found a sport that will be there for her throughout her life.
Other girls to watch are:
Skylar Thompson – I know Scott Hubbard loves to announce how many times a runner has been All-State and he sadly won’t be able to this year. I’ll fill in a bit here: Skylar learned under Samantha Saenz how to run at the elite level and she’s taken that knowledge to three consecutive All-State finishes. She’s right in line for another.
Riley Hacker – perhaps the biggest fan of this website. If I’m ever feeling down, I’ll tweet and Riley will like it a second later. Seriously though, she put in mega miles this summer, upholding the Sacred Heart tradition. That’s resulted in a season full of PR’s and the ability to do something special on Saturday.