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Division 4: The Preview

Took awhile to get to this, but here we are.  August is always a busy time in running stores COVID added a ton of walkers and runners, and with a few days off, I’ve finally found a bit of time to come up for air and post these. 

With the 50 Tickets and Top 10 Teams, I realized that much of the shoutouts and info was driven towards the absolute top teams and runners, so in these previews, I hope to give mention to not just the best of the best, but those on the cusp of greatness or those that have given a ton to the sport.

Top Teams

These are teams ranked in my top 25.  This encompasses all of D4 and is ranked as if there was a giant meet featuring all of the teams in the division.  Due to some strong regions, you’ll see teams that may not make it out, but still deserve mention. Featured athletes that have contributed, will contribute, or might be slept on. I tried to avoid projecting where the weak spots are, team strengths, as those will become apparent as the season wears on.

State Projections

You’ll notice these don’t match the top 25.  Based on the top 3 teams from regionals (and yes, I realize four teams can make it out of a region, but projecting that requires too many factors).  Certain teams who might have weaker depth will project better here than compared against the whole of D4.

Top Athletes

Those projected to be All-State.

Regional Breakdown

Hoping to show which regions are strong.  Top 27 teams refers to the whole of D4.  Ideally, they’d be split with 3’s across the board, but geography plays a major role, as does the boys/girls split.  I think MHSAA did a damn good job this year of mixing regional representation with competitive equity.  Top 100 Athletes is an attempt to showcase the individual depth of that region.

Dark Horses

Athletes that aren’t projected to be All-State, but have shown they have the potential to get there.  Either they haven’t run cross, underwent major transformation come track, switched schools, were inconsistent last fall, you name the factor.  Trying to find some diamonds that even the numbers can’t catch.

Girls run first this year, so…

GIRLS

TOP TEAMS

Addison (Rank: 16)

Kendall Morris: Lowered her PB from 22:59 to 21:06 and finished 3rd at Cascades Conference.

Allen Park Cabrini (Rank: 9)

Ava Teed: Peaked late with a sub-20 and then carried it over into track with All-State in the 1600/3200m.

Beal City (Rank: 3)

Hadyn Armstrong: Ended her first cross season on a high note with a 21:06 at Shepherd.

Breckenridge (Rank: 17)

Kurt Gulick: Dedicated himself to building middle school program has resulted in a girls team that might soon match the boys.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate (Rank: 8)

Alyse Felix: Started in the 24’s and capped season off with a 45th place finish at State.

Concord (Rank: 20)

Haylee Rinehart: Stepped up to the plate at last year’s Regional, knocking over a minute off her personal best.

Fowler (Rank: 11)

Rachel Epkey: Showed mid-distance prowess this spring with a 2:30 in the 800m.

Grand Traverse Academy (Rank: 15)

Katelynn Dix: Multisport star also contributes to this top team.  Finished 4th in the LJ and 300h in June.

Harbor Beach (Rank: 10)

Paige Anderson: Senior has been Top-10 in her region each of her three years.

Hillsdale Academy (Rank: 4)

Meredith Vanderweide: Huge leap in track, culminating in a 13:30 3200m best and a 4th place finish in Hillsdale County.

Johannesburg-Lewiston (Rank: 5)

Natalie Zochowski: Picked up and moved schools after successful freshman year at Chippewa Hills.  Showed some sprint speed in track, picking up a victory in the Ski Valley 200m.

Kalamazoo Christian (Rank: 1)

Hope Zichterman: Once again underrated by the numbers and a real candidate to again go All-State.

Lansing Christian (Rank: 13)

Ashlyn Kephart: Volz has left her the keys, now it’s time to shine.  Two straight All-State finishes and looking to keep the streak going.

Libertas Christian (Rank: 23)

Aliz Pusztai: Consistently ran in the 21’s last season and ended with a 55th place finish at State.

Mason County Eastern (Rank: 25)

Olivia Wing: Qualified for MIS as a freshman then showed she can hurdle (17.2, 50.3).

Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (Rank: 2)

Riley Hacker: Thought to be a 400m runner, moved up to nab an All-State spot in the 1600m.  MSAC and Region 39 Champ in the 3200m too.

Muskegon Catholic Central (Rank: 24)

Grace Rennells: Looks to get back to MIS after missing last year.  Mid-distance times in track show she’s capable of doing that again.

Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (Rank: 6)

Ava Rotman: Has qualified for State twice and looks to get there again.  WMC is well-positioned as a team for her to get there either way.

Pittsford (Rank: 18)

Brooke Smith: Won the SCAA and Hillsdale County 1600m Championships as a freshman.

Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest (Rank: 7)

Mackenzie Lemke: 21:42 was her cross country best.  She ran 11:40 and placed 6th at the Oakland County 3200m. 

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (Rank: 22)

Autumn Wakefield:  COVID denied her the chance to compete at MIS, but she was able to qualify for Track State, her 5:57 1600m emitting a 14th place finish.

The Potter’s House (Rank: 19)

Erika VerBeek: Sub-13 in the 3200m makes her a real candidate to drop serious time this fall.

Ubly (Rank: 12)

Abigail Guza: A junior that steps up on regional day.  Two qualifiers in cross and one in the 800m in track.

Unionville-Sebewaing (Rank: 21)

Olivia/Megan Peter: Intrigued to see what the coach’s daughters can do.  Both were at or below 3:00 for their 800’s in track, which should pave the way for XC improvement.

Whitmore Lake (Rank: 14)

Natalie Meadows: As a freshman, progressed enough to hit an 11th place finish at Regionals.  Did the same in track, reachierng below 6:00 in the 1600m.

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Kalamazoo Christian143
2Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart148
3Beal City155
4Hillsdale Academy172
5Johannesburg-Lewiston246
6Muskegon WMC254
7Rochester Hills Lutheran NW274
8Harbor Beach283
9Clarkston Everest Collegiate293
10Allen Park Cabrini326
11Fowler331
12Ubly338
13Lansing Christian360
14Whitmore Lake381
15Pittsford396
16Breckenridge403
17Addison406
18Grand Traverse Academy410
19Maple City Glen Lake440
20The Potter’s House451
21Mason County Eastern461
22Unionville-Sebewaing481
23Battle Creek St. Philip487
24Muskegon Catholic Central495
25Ellsworth611
26Athens619
27Wolverine770

TOP ATHLETES

Abby VanderKooi

Presley Allen

Makenna Scott

Aiden Harrand: Fifth place finish in cross and then a victory in the 1600m, both as a freshman.  Loads of potential.

Ava Mallar: Undefeated as an 8th grader in 2020-2021.

Eliza Keith: Broke 13:00 in all three of her middle school races.

Amelia Thompson: Fifth place in both the 1600/3200m, along with an All-State finish in cross.

Kaylee Locke: Twice All-State, twice Region 30 Champ.

Megan Roberts: Competed as an 8th grader and she’s still here with 3 All-State’s to her name.

Ruby Hogan: Flied under the radar with her great teammate, but initial season provided multiple sub-20 efforts.

Ava Teed: Those All-State performances were on the backs of PB’s at CHSL, 5:35 and 12:13, both victories.

Miriam Murrell: Another girl with 8th grade experience on the big stage.  She finished 14th that year and 20th in 2020.

Erika Van Loton: The reigning Region 36 champion has finished 7th in both of her years at MIS.  She’s been right above that 19:00 barrier at Chandler Park the past two years – does she finally break it?

Rachal Weber: Three trips to MIS, three Top-20 finishes.  Her junior year was her best yet.

Maze Gusa: How many Gusa’s are there?  Maze looks to make it 6 straight All-State’s for the family.

Ella Knudsen: Undefeated as an 8th grader in the 2020-21 school year, winning the NWC cross and 800/1600m titles

Lucy Shoup: Second place in the WMD (middle school) with multiple sub-13 performances.

Tatum Dykstra: Dropped nearly two minutes at MIS from 2019 to 2020, her 20:43 placing 17th

Tailor Onstott: Comeback story of 2020.  She didn’t finish her freshman year then turned in a marvelous sophomore season with a sub-20 at Regionals and 13th place at MIS.

Ashlyn Kephart: Such consistency late in last year, with 5 efforts between 20:00 and 20:15.

Riley Hacker: Riley was All-State as a sophomore, then 33rd last year. 

Averil Miller: Second place in the SCAA as an 8th grader. 

MacKenzie Lemke: MIAC Champion in the 1600/3200m.

Reece Wruble: Multiple sub-14’s with a lil’ bit of speed as well, running 64.5 in track. 

Ella Walton: Stepped up big on regional day with a 45 sec. PB (20:15).

Brooke Smith: After asserting her will at SCAA, reached further into her bag with a 12:24 at State, placing 3rd.  Immense potential shown in middle school that looks like it’s ready to come out.

Abby Rice: You may recognize the last name, but she’ll make a name for herself as time goes on.  Mid-distance star with PB’s of 62.1 and 2:29

Sydney Leslie: Placed 5th in Saginaw County’s middle school meet with a 13:40. 

Aubrey Herder: Another one with consistency to close, 20:45’s at both Regional and State, the latter granting her the 18th spot.

Olivia Ervin: Great progression throughout her sophomore year, beginning above 22:00 and getting as low as 20:19 at Shepherd’s Regional.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionalTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
2817
2929
30411
31410
32114
33310
34513
35412
36314

DARK HORSES

Rachel Allabaugh: Kalamazoo Christian is already good without her, she just solidifies their top dog status.  Ran 21:40 at the SAC Championship to finish 17th in a breakout performance, and then finished 3rd in the SAC 3200m. 

Allison Glendening: Her cross season saw her sink into the mid-20’s before finishing 47th at State.  She broke 13:00 a few times in track before finishing 13th at D4 State. 

Mya Guillermo: Ran a 5:54 in track after not breaking 25:00 in cross.  Novi Christian is under the guidance of one Steve Schell (old heads will know the name), so expect to see them on the rise soon.

Sayra Hernandez: Another one whose spring marks don’t match fall times.  Showed mid-distance ability in track with many sub-2:40’s and a 14th place at D4 State.

Michaela Kurth: Became a mile master this spring with seven performances between 5:50 and 6:10.

Taylor Myers: Three trips to Brooklyn have given her finishes from 42nd to 62nd.  A 12:43 on the track shows she’s capable of breaking into that top 30.

Helana Napiorkowski: Peaked hard with three straight sub-6 performances in the 1600m, along with a 13th place effort at D4 State.  Ran 21:35 at the Hansons 3 Mile at River Bends, normally kids will match that or run slightly faster in cross.

Nicole Olivieri: Sacred Heart’s sprint star finally commits to cross country.  She ranks 5th amongst ALL returners in that event, and that ability has the chance to translate come fall.

Neili Pike: Range range range range.  From 13.6 to 5:35, she showed it all. 

Lauren Price: Stepped up in May’s regional with a personal best, running 5:46 on a steamy day. 

Madelyn Thomas: Another girl with tons of sub-2:40’s, 2:31 being her best. 

Whitney Wilkinson: As with Allabaugh, is a boost to an already great team.  She has experience in big meets and finished 3rd in Hillsdale County’s 800m. 

Sydney Van Es: Talk about consistency.  Eight cracks at the 1600m, eight sub-6 races. 

BOYS

TOP TEAMS

Adrian Lenawee Christian (Rank: 9)

Josh Green: Showed steady progress as a freshman, reaching down to the 18:20’s to close the season out.  Continued to improve during track, his 5:08 in the 1600m shows he can break 18:00.

Battle Creek St. Philip (Rank: 21)

Jacob Thome: Track times indicate a potential contributor.  Progressed all the way to 5:16 in the 1600m after a cross season in which he didn’t break 20:00.

Breckenridge (Rank: 1)

Trent Carter: Rededicated himself to the sport this winter and it paid off with a 2:03 in the 800m.

Buckley (Rank: 13)

Jackson Kulawiak: Has broken 18:00 and placed Top-10 at Regionals in both of his seasons.  This spring, he appeared to have some mid-distance ability, going 54.8/2:07.

Carson City-Crystal (Rank: 2)

Ashton Keiffer: He’s been All-State twice and now it’s his time to lead.  A 9:40 in track let us know he’s embracing that path.

Concord (Rank: 5)

Jonathan Mikovits: Three consecutive All-States and two straight Region 34 titles for this leader of a perennial contender.

Dansville (Rank: 4)

Theodore Davis: Undefeated in 8th grade, his fall highlighted by an 11:08 at Larry Steeb.

Deckerville (Rank: 24)

Benjamin Moeller: In both 2019 and 2020, he’s dropped considerable time late in the year, getting into the mid-18’s. 

Gobles (Rank: 23)

Nile Devers:  All-State in both 2019 and 2020.  As a sophomore, he dipped under 17:00, can he do it again?

Hillsdale Academy (Rank: 7)

Emil Schlueter: Fifth place in Region 34 in his initial foray into cross country.  The spring saw him get into the 4:40’s.

Johannesburg-Lewiston (Rank: 10)

Toby Hall: Each of his three seasons, he’s been in the 19’s, but in track he seemed to take a bit of a leap.  Expect to see some serious improvement with his 5:15 and consistent low-11’s as evidence.

Kalamazoo Christian (Rank: 6)

Isaac Bos: Closed last season HARD. Wins at both Regionals and Pre-Regionals, followed by a 12th place finish at MIS. 

Lawrence (Rank: 18)

Isaiah Beiter: Sadly, another guy that had to miss State.  Judging by his 3rd place finish in Region 32, he could have performed well there.  He was able to showcase his speed at Track State, running 2:06/4:34.

Libertas Christian (Rank: 25)

Scott Frain:  He hasn’t run much, but the few meets he’s performed in are evidence that he can be a factor.  Multiple 5:0x’s to close out his track season.

Mason County Eastern (Rank: 15)

Eli Shoup: Top-10 at Region 29 in each of his three seasons.  Interesting skillset on the track, the 300h and HJ being his main events, but also finding enough energy to run 10:43.

Montabella (Rank: 20)

Dakota Dykhuis: Out of this world time drop at 2020’s Shepherd Regional.  16:40 when his previous best was 17:23. Followed that up with a 19th place finish at State.

Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (Rank: 11)

Brock Lynch: Three consecutive All-State honors, his 14th place in 2020 his highest finish yet.

Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (Rank: 22)

Luke Maat: Perhaps an impact freshman?  Went sub-12 in three instances over 3000m and won the Lakes 8.

Riverview Gabriel Richard (Rank: 16)

Peter Laskaris:  Always hits a nice PB at the end of the year.  Ran 18:20 at the CHSL Intersectional at Goodells.

St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (Rank: 17)

Lucas Wielens: Had the most complete year of this youthful bunch. 18:47 in cross and then 5:35 in track.

The Potter’s House (Rank: 3)

Lezawe Osterink: A win at Alliance League and a jaunt into the 16:30’s showed that he was on his way to make a major impact at State, but he unfortunately couldn’t run in November.

Unionville-Sebewaing (Rank: 17)

Michael Jacobs: Made a nice step last year, moving into the 18’s, more than a minute improvement from the previous year.  Continued that in a track season that saw him break 5:00 in the 1600m.

Webberville (Rank: 12)

Liam Wilder: Any time you’re on the precipice of 18:00 as a freshman, you’re doing pretty good.

White Cloud (Rank: 8)

Carson Foondle: 5:07/11:17 after being on the slow side of 20:00.  That sort of sneaky impact can have great implications on a D4 contender.

Whitmore Lake (Rank: 14)

Cole Rinna: Clay Rinna, Cole Rinna, these guys have a legacy at Whitmore Lake.  He’s twice been Top-15 at Regionals and Top-10 in the MIAC.

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Breckenridge165
2Carson City-Crystal166
3Dansville185
4The Potter’s House188
5Concord244
6Kalamazoo Christian253
7White Cloud254
8Hillsdale Academy264
9Webberville299
10Adrian Lenawee Christian303
11Johannesburg-Lewiston323
12Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart324
13Buckley345
14Mason County Eastern347
15Riverview Gabriel Richard369
16Montabella377
17St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic377
18Lawrence381
19Unionville-Sebewaing382
20Battle Creek St. Philip446
21Deckerville463
22Fairview490
23Ubly498
24Allen Park Cabrini502
25Marine City Cardinal Mooney502
26Eau Claire574
27Mackinaw City641

TOP ATHLETES

Mason Sumner

Nathan Lott

Samuel Paga: St. Michael is on the rise and runners like Sam are a huge reason why.  Fifth place at D4 State last year. 

Ashton Keiffer: The 9:40 was probably the time that stands out the most, but his biggest accomplishment in track was a 4:33, netting him a spot on the podium.

Collin Farmer: Ran for Pewamo-Westphalia in middle school, but must have transferred to Carson City (and couldn’t run cross).  His inclusion closes the gap between Carson City and Breckenridge.  Tough to project without cross as a baseline, but sub-10 for a freshman is good no matter how you slice it.

Lezawe Osterink: Picked up where his cross season left off, with two Top-8 finishes at State, once in the 4×8, one in the 3200m.

Jonathan Mikovits: Jon had his best track season yet, achieving his first podium finish, a 4th place in the 800m. 

Brock Lynch: Another kid to put out some times in track, a 4:32 at State emitted a 7th place finish.  Personal best in the heat, impressive.

Trent Carter: The rededication mentioned earlier completely glosses over the fact that he’s a 3x All-State medalist and 2020 was his best finish yet.

Logan Swiney: Second half of another one of D4’s dominant duos.  All-State in cross and 10:11 in track.

Isaac Bos: After that astounding late season peak, carried it over into track with a 7th place finish in the 3200m.  Showed great strength in the process, a PB of 10:15 despite only running 4:51.

Alex Wanty: As a middle schooler, was in the mid-11’s in the few meets he entered.  Sparked curiosity as to his talent, which he proved exists with a late season run in the 16’s.

Ty Pavlichek: Three year stud at USA. Twice All-Region and once All-State. 

Dakota Dykhuis: Dakota runs well when the lights are on.  Picked up a victory in the 800m at the Mid-Michigan Meet of Champions. 

Alexander Meszaros: His October stretch helped him assert himself as one of the better runners Downriver.  Reached into the 16’s and picked up a win at the Stockbridge Pre-Regional.

Jonah Cerone: Took awhile to adjust to running on grass, but turned it on at the end.  16:56 at the Goodells regional. 

Tyler Bays: After running around the 18:00 mark for much of the season, ran 17:18 and 17:22 in consecutive weeks at Regional and State.  That step up gave him a 3rd place Regional finish and 17th spot at State.

Ian Palacios: If he can continue where he left off in track, most likely the best 3rd man in D4.

Joe Bulko: Love his steady progression throughout the years.  18:36 to 17:50 to 16:53. Paid off with a 26th place at MIS.

Isaiah Beiter: Just didn’t show speed in track, also moved up to a 10:29 in the 3200m. 

Nile Devers: Ran a 10:21 in track, a 15 sec. improvement over his 2019 best.  Sets himself up to run well under 17:00. 

Theodore Davis: Any 8th grader that can dip under 5:00 in the 1600m will turn heads.

Tristan McHaney: Huge fan of year to year improvement.  19:21 to 17:19.

Nathan Ciolk: When he’s on, he’s really on.  17:11 at the Shepherd Regional.

Caleb Howard: Two years, two Top-10 places at Regionals.

Nate Wing: Great career thus far, but two things stand in front of him, waiting for the taking.  Consecutive 2nd place finishes in Region 29 and his personal best is 17:00.

Joseph Kadluboski: Solid first two years for Dansville.  Has been in the 17’s both years.

Macartan Moore: 17:30 at Spartan and 17:33 at Regionals show he can bring it to another level in competitive races.

Dylan Pallett: SAC Middle School cross champ also hit 11:15 in track.

Damian DeFeyter: Third guy on the Dansville squad and another one that’s been in the 17’s for both of his high school seasons.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionalTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
2817
29311
30314
31617
3228
33413
34415
35210
3625

DARK HORSES

Petoskey St. Michael: As of now, I only have a few returners, but those returners are extremely good.  If they can find some depth, they’ll shoot up the rankings.

The Potter’s House: Elijah Suwyn and Zach Reinsma are two boys that ran track but not cross.  If they come out for the team, they’ll have an immediate impact as both have gone sub-5.

TJ Donnan: Helped him at the store a few weeks and I’m very impressed.  There are many factors that could prevent him from being a top runner, but he managed to be one of the better freshmen in D4.

Utah Gusa: So many Gusas. His track season featured continually solid performances, usually in the 5:10/11:00 range.

Jonas Lanser: Ran his best race of 2020 at the Shepherd Regional, but missed out on an additional qualifying spot.  New baseline established in track should eliminate that issue.

Nik Moore: Always looking for efforts that hint at something greater.  His 10:42 at the Mid-Michigan Meet of Champions could lead to considerable time drops come fall.

Owen Patton: Closed cross season with a jaunt under 18:00 and took it to a whole new level in track with a 4:43/10:37. Both times ranked in the top 3 for D4 freshmen.

Christopher Russelberg: We always love seeing Allen Park boys.  His first track campaign saw a victory at the CHSL Cardinal 1600m.

Kade Spahr: When he’s at his best, he can run with the top dogs.  His 17:14 at the Sharp Park Regional proves that.  Probably the best long jumper in this field too. 

Brandon Thompson: Splits his time between football and cross country.  Mid-distance star on the track who’s on the verge of a 1:59.

Conner Welden: Can his long sprints translate to running on grass?  SCAA 400m champ, Region 35 800m champ, and 8th place at the D4 800m.

3 thoughts on “Division 4: The Preview”

  1. Collin Farmer (Carson City-Crystal)
    Has since transferred back to Pewamo – Westphalia High School. Good luck trying to figure this family out.

    Like

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