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Division 3: 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 D3 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 D3.

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 D3.  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 (*edit*, except for one region).  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

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (Rank: 16)

Gianna Hoving: Came up big with a win in Region 18, propelling Gabriel Richard to the State Meet.  Brought that momentum into track and ended up with a 5:31 in the 1600m.

Benzie Central (Rank: 5)

Elise Johnson: Quite the accomplished 800m runner, as she was first in D3’s MITCA Team State. Has spent the last two years in the 19’s.

Bridgman (Rank: 19)

Jane Kaspar: Always runs her best to close the season (she was an important contributor to their 2019 championship squad).  COVID denied their chance to compete at MIS, but she’ll hopefully get a chance to prove herself again.

Buchanan (Rank: 13)

Eleanor Young: Had a nice debuting season.  Broke into the 20’s and then finished 11th at Regionals.  The team is receiving many freshmen and it’ll be helpful to count on a bit of experience.

Caro (Rank: 12)

Paige Herron & Rachael Walch: As freshmen, both acquitted themselves quite well, qualifying for State to close the year.  But major strides were made during track, where both finished the year with 3200m bests in the 12:30’s.

Clinton (Rank: 14)

Samantha Coots: Made her presence known early in her career with a 3rd place finish in the Lenawee County Championship.

Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (Rank: 10)

Leah Decker: In 2019, she ran one race in 24:43. In 2020, she dropped 3+ minutes from that time and was able to run at MIS.

Grandville Calvin Christian (Rank: 15)

Emberlynn DeVries: Potential breakout contributor?  Scratch that, she will be a contributor.  12:52 3200m in track placed 3rd in the OK Silver.

Hanover-Horton (Rank: 22)

Sophia Reynolds: The last name rings out in H-H lore, and Sophia looks like she’ll carry it on well.  Placed 7th in Region 23 as a freshman.

Hart (Rank: 1)

Lauren VanderLaan: Lauren’s performance at MIS secured their title last year.  Hart reloads and she’ll be counted on again.

Ithaca (Rank: 9)

Kylea Braman: The Lebron Effect plus a great summer of training equals big things for this girl. 

Jackson Lumen Christi (Rank: 20)

Sydney Fazekas: Sydney moved over from Hanover-Horton.  She should fit right in and provide immediate depth.

Kent City (Rank: 7)

Kierra Flegel: Although she didn’t have her best day at State, she was able to bounce back a week later with a lifetime best at the Meet of Champions.

Lansing Catholic (Rank: 3)

Emmie West: Last season was her first full season as an athlete and it was a good one, highlighted by a 7th place finish at Greater Lansing.

Leslie (Rank: 25)

Kayla Creisher: She rose to the occasion in late October with multiple sub-22 efforts.

McBain (Rank: 21)

Baylie Eisenga: Baylie just barely missed out on a sub-20 time at Benzie’s Pre-Regional.  Don’t be shocked if she’s well under that mark this year.

Napoleon (Rank: 24)

Madelyn Norman: Some runners are just happy to get to the State Meet.  Others, like Maddie, run 30+ sec. personal bests, as she did with her 12:23 a few months ago.

New Lothrop (Rank: 18)

Clara Krupp: Clara gets a lifetime achievement award from me.  Three-time State qualifier and an 11th place there in 2019.

Pewamo-Westphalia (Rank: 6)

Ella Kowatch: The junior had an impressive track season from a mid-distance perspective.  She was a mainstay on P-W’s 4×8 team and she ran sub-2:40 in every race.

Reese (Rank: 8)

Allison Galsterer: Of her entire career at Reese, her junior season was her best yet.  3rd place at Regionals, 2nd place in the GTC, and 59th at State were all her lowest finishes of her career.

Sandusky (Rank: 11)

Allysen Jansen: Sandusky is a team rarely mentioned, but they have some studs.  Allysen finished 43rd at D3 State last year.

Saugatuck (Rank: 23)

Maya Veldt: Saugatuck moves on down to Division 3 and Maya hopes to equal her successful freshman year.  Region 31 Champ and All-State.

St. Louis (Rank: 4)

Jenna Abell: Jenna comes off a track season where she was able to run 6:13/13:33. Depth from upperclassmen such as her will be huge come championship season.

Stockbridge (Rank: 17)

Brooklyn Rochow: She’s coming off a track season where she went 5:30/12:00.  Times like that set the stage for a potential All-State finish.

Traverse City St. Francis (Rank: 2)

Margot Hagerty: Early time trial results suggest she’s been putting in the work and is on pace to smash her PB’s.

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Hart85
2Traverse City St. Francis154
3Lansing Catholic159
4St. Louis193
5Benzie Central203
6Pewamo-Westphalia224
7Kent City237
8Ithaca265
9Reese266
10Grand Rapids Covenant Christian317
11Caro331
12Grandville Calvin Christian334
13Buchanan343
14Clinton347
15Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard362
16Stockbridge394
17Jackson Lumen Christi414
18Bridgman416
19McBain443
20Hanover-Horton462
21Saugatuck476
22Napoleon506
23Harbor Springs556
24Charlevoix609
25Clawson630
26Madison Heights Bishop Foley732
27Almont802

TOP ATHLETES

Lani Bloom

Alyson Enns

Allison Chmielewski

Rylee Tolson

Clara Fast

Eliza Bush (she is actually running for Ypsi Arbor Prep instead of Dexter)

Jessica Jazwinski

Mylie Kelly

Audrianna Enns

Faith Smith

Madison Osterberg

Kyah Hoffman: Incoming freshman was undefeated in 8th grade cross and won the CSAA Gold title along the way. 

Hannah Pricco: Hannah was All-State over in Division 2 in both her freshman and sophomore years.

Whitney Werner: The lead runner on a dominant P-W Middle School squad, Whitney was sub-13 in every single race.  She threw down some quality times in track as well, most notably a 5:18 1600m.

Lila Volkers: Another potentially impactful freshman.  Lila reached down as far as 12:33 in cross and 5:43 in track. 

Mikenna Borie: Mikenna has been All-State in two of her three seasons, with 2020 as her highest finish yet.  She had a great track state experience, where she placed 8th in the 1600 and *almost* doubled back with the same place in the 3200m.

CC Jones: A transfer from Haslett, CC had to sit out last year’s XC season.  But under Coach Simpson in track, we saw a glimpse into how she can perform.  She won the distance triple at the CAAC White Championship.

Libby Munderloh: Three-time All-State in cross and future heptathlete on the track.  Name an event and she’s done it.  300h? 49.6.  400m? 59.3. 3200m? 12:17. 2000m Steeple? 7:35.

Lexie Beth Nienhuis: Probably the best of the second runner as an 8th grader across the whole state.  Finished 3rd in the WMC in cross, then sprinted to a 2:34 in track.

Jaiden Dickman: Jaiden really came into her own during track, where she was able to hit a 5:19 and then double back with a 3200m qualifier that same day.  St. Louis will be in a good place through their Top 3 girls.

Sophia Rhein: Sophia’s sophomore season was cut short, but judging by her early times, she was well on her way to a second straight All-State.  Can she achieve that accomplishment again?  A 5:15 in track gives much confidence.

Jenna Sweeney: One loss as a freshman, and even in that defeat, she was only beat by 18 other girls.  That was at D3 State.  She’s the reigning Region 25 and GTC Champ.  With St. Louis moving into that region, it will be a fun fight to watch.

Tessa Roe: Tessa is in a great spot for Lansing Catholic.  CC and Hannah up front should give her teammates to latch onto.  A 5:36 in track suggests improvement from her already solid freshman year.

Jaidyn Smith: Haley Ellis graduates, now it’s time for another Leslie girl to take over.  She finished 2nd in the GLAC during cross, then improved by one spot with a victory in the 3200m.

Ava Maginity: Two seasons, two All-States.  Girl’s got wheels too, sprinting to a 27.8/62.5, both of which placed 18th at D3 State.

Alyeska Linsley: It’s been a career of growth for Alyeska.  From running on the plus side of 22:00 as a freshman to breaking 20:00 as a junior.  From not being on Kent City’s state team in 2018 to finishing 28th in 2020. 

Maye Burns: Three consecutive seasons running in the 19’s for Maye.  She was All-State as a sophomore and based on her 5:23 this spring, is poised to get back to that level.

Grace Slocum: A litany of victories last year for another incoming freshman.  LMC, Bluejay in cross, then a double at the LMC in track.

Makenzie Kreger: This young 9th grader didn’t lose a single middle school race last year.  Four cross races, four sub-13 efforts.

Meghan Beute: Another bit of stupendous growth.  22:50 to 18:58 and she closed last season on a tear.  18th at D3 State and a massive PB at the Meet of Champions.  Pretty good for having to miss a significant amount of time in quarantine.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
1919
20314
21314
2249
23410
24415
25518
2602
2739

DARK HORSES

Ava Viegelahn: Championship experience is big with this one.  She was an important member of Grass Lake’s 2nd place 4×4 squad (and State title winning track team).  Her times weren’t all that shabby either – 2:32 & 5:40.

Kara Tarakedis: Cross season was cut short after she slipped into the low-21’s.  Her track season was able to last until June and she made the most of it, qualifying for State in the 1600m and running 2:33 in the 800m.

Kendra Koster: Has been tearing up the road race circuit this summer with times as low as 19:20. This should come as no surprise after a track season where she raced to 10th in the D3 3200m.

Kinsie Jacques: Get used to seeing that Pinconning jersey up at the front of races.  Kinsie was victorious at the Bay County Championships in cross and the Jackpine 3200m this spring.

Lauren Staal: A three-year contributor for Grandville Calvin Christian.  Lauren progressed down into the 20’s last fall, but a broken collarbone cut short her track campaign.  She’s healthy now and Calvin is motivated to outperform their ranking.

Madeleine Hill: Madeleine blasted a few sub-20 runs last year.  Once at Allendale and another time to win a CMAC Jamboree (and beat a few All-State girls in the process) in a huge PB.  Brooklyn didn’t go the way she’s capable of, but I’m confident she’ll return back to that podium.

Molly Harding: Of all her seasons of competing, Molly’s track one was by far the best.  In a highly competitive regional, she placed 6th in the 3200m in 11:37.  Two weeks later, she was 7th in the entire state.  Based off times and medal stands, she’s due for a breakout senior year.

BOYS

TOP TEAMS

Benzie Central (Rank: 15)

Michael Musgrave: Looks primed to step into the role of #2 guy after a 10:44 in track.

Bridgman (Rank: 25)

John Sanderson: Has been sub-18 for both of his initial two years and All-Region as well.

Bronson (Rank: 18)

Ashton Wells & Aden Hathaway: The juniors were both able to benefit from the move over to Region 22, as they both moved into the top-15 at Regionals.

Caro (Rank: 17)

Tristan Lovett: We love the year to year improvement.  Tristan saw reductions in time (17:45 to 16:52) and place (17th at Regionals to 6th, 169th at State to 61st)

Charlevoix (Rank: 11)

Dominic Schwein: Dominic is a little underrated because of his slow start, but he kicked it in hard with a 17:31 at Regionals.

Coloma (Rank: 9)

Ethan Vandermolen: Coloma is receiving a blast of youth, but will still need experience.  Ethan has been in the 18’s all three years and showed some speed in track with a 54.2 400m.

Elk Rapids (Rank: 19)

Charlie Ward: Charlie ran a 17:09 at last year’s East Jordan Regional to qualify – a 34 second PB.

Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (Rank: 20)

Nate Bylsma: Nate is a good example of when you stick with the sport, it’ll pay off for you.  After two years hovering around the 20:00 mark, he took it to another level by running in the low-18’s.

Grandville Calvin Christian (Rank: 3)

Ben Wertz: Calvin has an outstanding top three, and their 4th/5th runners could push them to title town if they step up.  Ben stepped as one of those contributors in track with a 2:08 800m.

Harbor Springs (Rank: 12)

Cal Benjamin: Between his freshmen and sophomore years, Cal definitely went through #theleap.  18:14 to 16:53.

Hart (Rank: 4)

Noah Bosley: 2020 was Noah’s first year qualifying for State, where he ran a personal best of 17:11.

Ithaca (Rank: 8)

Nolan Woodman: Ithaca’s 3rd through 7th runners make their team.  Without solid depth, the Yellowjackets might struggle.  With athletes like Nolan who drop 4+ minutes in two years, they’re continually a top-10 outfit.

Kalkaska (Rank: 24)

Gavin Guggemos: Tyler’s younger brother came into his own during track, where he finished in the LMC 3200m.

Kent City (Rank: 16)

Thomas Swanson: Thomas is coming off his best segment yet – a junior track campaign that saw him run 2:01 in the 800m and finish in the top-15 at State.

Lansing Catholic (Rank: 5)

Josh Otten: A new addition to the team, Josh isn’t included in the ratings (literally just found out about this).  But he’s run 2:00/4:27 and with that background, it appears as if Lansing Catholic could move up from their already lofty position.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley (Rank: 21)

Max Mader: After having a tough time breaking 20:00 as a freshman, Max was in the 17’s for the majority of his races.  He continued to ascend in track, qualifying in the 800m.

Manchester (Rank: 23)

Caiden Kippnick: Following a 10:18 3200m, Caiden looks poised to break out. 

Monroe St. Mary CC (Rank: 13)

Simon VanderVlucht: Simon had a great close to his freshman season with personal bests in his final two meets.

New Lothrop (Rank: 22)

Cole Yaros: Who will replace Carson and Drew?  Cole is a great candidate.  He missed Regionals but bounced back with a 114th place finish at D3 State.

Pewamo-Westphalia (Rank: 14)

Alex S. Thelen: The Pirates pack will carry their success, and Alex had the best spring of the bunch.  His 10:43 3200m placed 3rd in Region 29.

Reed City (Rank: 10)

Anthony Kiaunis: Anthony showed his potential with a 17:12 effort at the Buckley Regional.

Saugatuck (Rank: 7)

Tristan Ashley: In the Sharnas/Pettinga shuffle, Tristan gets a little ignored.  Not here.  I’m excited for a little MIS redemption and looking forward to seeing him build upon the 16:57 he ran at Regionals.

St. Louis (Rank: 2)

Craig Bebow: The numbers underrate Craig because they’re based off last year.  He ran in the 18’s as a sophomore, then was injured to begin his junior year.  He recovered and regained his past form, running 2:16 in the 800m. 

Stockbridge (Rank: 6)

Micah Bolton: Stockbridge’s Top 3 plan to dominate races up front and Micah will be right up there pushing the pace. 

Traverse City St. Francis (Rank: 1)

Tucker Krumm: If TCSF’s time trial is any indication, Tucker is due for some personal bests this fall.  St. Francis has outstanding depth, and an added benefit of that depth is you have breakout candidates. 

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Traverse City St. Francis153
2St. Louis162
3Grandville Calvin Christian176
4Hart182
5Lansing Catholic233
6Stockbridge239
7Saugatuck254
8Ithaca288
9Caro315
10Reed City328
11Harbor Springs331
12Benzie Central345
13Monroe St. Mary CC355
14Coloma356
15Kent City362
16Charlevoix386
17Pewamo-Westphalia393
18Bronson406
19Grand Rapids Covenant Christian414
20Madison Heights Bishop Foley419
21Bridgman420
22Manchester424
23Hudson450
24Hanover-Horton483
25Sanford-Meridian597
26University Liggett768
27Memphis788

TOP ATHLETES

Hunter Jones

Max Sharnas

Noah Morrow

Parks Allen

Tyler Guggemos

Espen Lehnst: The Haslett transfer saw immediate success in the move to D3.  He finished 15th at State and helped Ithaca secure a 7th place finish.

Boden Genovese: Breakout track season for this youngster with a 4:35/9:42.

Rogan Melling: Yet another Melling in the pipeline.  Two years in the 16’s and a 13th place finish at MIS last year.

Aaron Bowerman: Eat your heart out, Caro boys.  Aaron is back and ready to help the Sharks defend their title.  Aaron showed some strength in track, grinding out a 10:04 and a 9th place finish at State.

Adam Martinson: Adam must be a major fan of the Allendale course.  He ran in the 16:40s in each of his three races there last fall.

Thomas Richards: Thomas will be counted on as the lead guy on a St. Francis team that’s ready to make it happen.  He finished 13th in the state as a sophomore and looks to get back on that podium. 

Matthew Pattullo: Matthew brings upon us the next generation of Caro legends.  He gritted out a 4:39 in track and finished 2nd in the Thumb Area. 

Sam Peterson: It finally clicked for Sam.  4:20 in the 1600m, LMC Champion.  If this carries over into cross, watch out. 

Ben March: St. Louis peaked at the right time in 2020 and Ben is a shining example of that.  He moved into the 16’s for the first time at Bluejay, then hit that mark three more times on the way to a 23rd place at MIS. 

Hunter Sanford: It’s always tough to project freshmen, but Hunter made my job a bit easier with his multiple sub-11’s. 

Nathan Jenkins: Steady progress from this guy.  Broke into the 16’s late last fall, then ran 4:42/10:24 in track.

Lance Smar: 2020 presented Lance’s best placing at MIS.  He finished 29th in his third year running down in Brooklyn.

Connor Stefanovsky: The third member of Caro’s top three to be mentioned, Connor ran a personal best in May on a humid regional day, then placed 15th in that 3200m two weeks later.

Clayton Ackley: Clayton stepped up in track, knocking out a 10:06 and a 10th place finish in D3’s 3200m.

Rhett Reif: Identical season bests in his freshman and sophomore years (16:39).  He placed All-State as a freshman, but missed out as a sophomore.  A 10:10 in track shows he has the ability to get back there. 

Logan Manion: Two straight top-5 races at both OK Silver and Region 21 for Logan. 

Nate March: Getting tired of all these St. Louis kids, but their inclusion speaks to their late season greatness.  His final five races of the year were all between 16:39 and 16:57 and that steadiness wins you championships.

Gabe Nelson: Gabe continually runs his best to close the year.  2018 and 2019’s regionals were both personal bests, as was his 2020 State Meet.

Tristan Lovett: Also had drops in the 800m (2:12 to 2:07) and 1600m (4:48 to 4:44).

Alex Czeiszperger: In his first year of HS, proved that he can be reliable in a pressurized setting.  1st in the LCAA Final, 2nd in Lenawee County, and 30th in Brooklyn.

Andrew Mabry: The freshman comes in as the Berrien County Champ with multiple sub-12s to his name.

Levi Maier: Chesaning’s boys had a nice track season, placing 7th at D3 State. Levi leads the charge in hoping to repeat that in cross.  He qualified for State last year and finished 54th.

Dan Kehoe: Ran his best in May to close out the track season.  Winner of the OK Silver 800m, then a few weeks later, PR’ed with a 4:41 1600m. 

Eddy Granados: Only one loss in 8th grade XC, in the Berrien County Meet to Andrew Mabry.  Besides that, a litany of sub-12 performances.  He didn’t stop there, getting down under 11:00 in track. 

Erik Kent: Erik is another one on the path of continual improvement.  His regional performances: 41st, 13th, 3rd

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
19516
20415
21315
2239
23113
24413
2528
2611
2749

DARK HORSES

Brad White: Early on, the Clare freshman established himself as one of the better youngsters in Mid-Michigan.  He had multiple sub-18 efforts and in track, finished 4th in the Mid-Michigan Meet of Champions 3200m.

Carson Brunk: Carson was a little inconsistent last fall, reaching down as low as 17:08, but also running in the high-18’s at D3 State.  He bucked that trend in track, becoming reliable late in the year with a win in the CMAC 1600m and a 5th place in the D3 800m.

Jacob Walker: Jacob finished 2nd in that LCAA Final to Czeiszperger and then rattled off a few 17:0x efforts.  But the real hay was made in track, where he was victorious in the LCAA 1600m and ran as low as 4:37

Lane McDonald: Key member of Ithaca’s 4×8 which placed 7th at the State Meet.  The word is he’s out for cross and Ithaca should gain some stability. 

Matt Hoop: 3rd place in this summer’s Eliminator Race (a knockout style race held at Hillsdale, some might be familiar with Wisconsin’s Grindfest, similar concept).  Matt had to run 75’s for 18 laps, so the strength is 100% there.

Nathan Kippnick: The Kippnicks in general train hard, and Nathan is no exception.  He’s been putting in 60+ a week in the offseasons, and we saw it pay off in track with a 4:49 1600m.

Samuel Martini: Layla’s younger brother is another one with serious strength.  Despite barely breaking 5:00, he was able to scrape together a 10;23.

Walker Barz: A three-time qualifier to MIS, he’s finished in the top 60 each year.  Low marks in the 3200m indicate he’s capable of breaking into that top-30.  

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