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Division 2: 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 D2 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 D2.

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 D2.  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

Allendale (Rank: 20)

Ava Buhlman: Ava finished 6th in the OK Blue in cross, but her Regional meet didn’t go so hot.  She excelled in many events in track, most notably the 800m, where she ran 2:30 and qualified for State.

Cadillac (Rank:11)

Regan Hill: Regan transferred from McBain to Cadillac between her freshman and sophomore years.  As a freshman, she was able to run at State and was on the cusp of breaking 20:00.  Her sophomore campaign wasn’t as quick, but she looked to regain some of that form in track.

Chelsea (Rank: 7)

Dearborn Divine Child (Rank: 24)

Kirsten Koss: The CHSL Bishop Queen.  Sped to a 5:27 this spring, claiming the title there, and finished 5th in XC.

East Grand Rapids (Rank: 1)

Forest Hills Eastern (Rank: 8)

Frankenmuth (Rank: 10)

Hailey Lenhard: Found an event to excel at in track, the 800m, where she placed 7th in the Thumb Meet of Champions.

Freeland (Rank: 5)

Goodrich (Rank: 22)

You may notice they’re lower than earlier in the summer, they had some losses from those featured in the image.

Grand Rapids Christian (Rank: 2)

Grand Rapids South Christian (Rank: 18)

Halle Overmire: A 5:52 in track indicates she can be much better than her 22:00 to close the year.

Grand Rapids West Catholic (Rank: 25)

Maggie Duba: You may remember Maggie from her selfless act of helping Sarah Storey walk across the finish line.  She’s a damn good runner, too.  Maggie was 4th in Region 11, had run a 19:10 earlier in the year, and went 2:25/5:19 this spring.

Mason (Rank: 6)

Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg (Rank: 12)

Jessica Durkee: A two-time qualifier for State who has been in the 19’s each of the last two seasons.

Otsego (Rank: 3)

Petoskey (Rank: 4)

Pinckney (Rank: 16)

Emma Moore: Emma has gradually reduced time in each of the past two seasons, down to 20:03 at 2020’s Bulldog Elite.  A 12:15 in track shows she’s 100% capable of busting through that barrier.

Plainwell (Rank: 14)

Claire Vos: The freshman has a good chance of adding to Plainwell’s already elite top 2.  She finished 4th in the Wolverine Conference last year.

Shepherd (Rank: 13)

Elle Himebaugh: It’s gonna end up being quite the career arc for Elle.  Her freshman year began with a 28:47 at Chippewa Hills.  Shepherd runs a 1600m time trial to kick off the cross season.  Her time?  5:54.

Spring Lake (Rank: 15)

Lily Parker: The theory is that if you run on a big stage once, you come back with lessons for the next time.  As a freshman, Lily ran 21:33 at MIS.  As a sophomore, she came back with a 19:52, placing 32nd. 

St. Johns (Rank: 19)

Clara Fletcher: Already accomplished as a freshman, Clara was able to place 13th at Region 14, 6th in the CAAC Red in cross, then turned around and placed 2nd in the 3200m in the CAAC Redduring track.

Tecumseh (Rank: 9)

Warren Regina (Rank: 23)

Kennedy Roskopp: Great freshman year for Kennedy.  3rd in Region 17, 4th at CHSL Bishop.  Her and Grace will be a front-runnin’ force at many East Side meets this year.

Whitehall (Rank: 17)

Ryann Jibson: Ryann’s track season showed she’s back on the path to where she was as a sophomore, where she was 15th in D2.  But we love her no matter where she places.

Zeeland East (Rank: 21)

Bella Hoffer:  On account of her track season, I could probably put Bella in the dark horse category.  Her 5:25 in the 1600m was a winner in the OK Green Conference.

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1East Grand Rapids56
2Grand Rapids Christian149
3Otsego188
4Petoskey215
5Freeland219
6Mason253
7Chelsea305
8Forest Hills Easetern319
9Frankenmuth346
10Tecumseh362
11Cadillac380
12Spring Lake390
13Plainwell390
14Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg397
15Shepherd405
16Pinckney409
17Whitehall451
18Warren Regina457
19Allendale471
20St. Johns473
21Grand Rapids South Christian474
22Goodrich477
23Zeeland East486
24Marysville497
25Dearborn Divine Child502
26St. Clair534
27Linden557

TOP ATHLETES

Meghan Ford

Drew Muller

Madelyn Frens

Ava Lutke

Mary Richmond

Noel Vanderwall

Emily Tomes

Ainsley Workman

Natalie VanOtteren

Camryn Bodine

Grace Zdankiewicz: Her junior year featured her first All-State appearance.  A week later, she dropped 12 sec. off her PB at the Meet of Champions.

Whitney Farrell: Unfortunately, Whitney missed last year’s State Meet.  She more than made up for it in track with an 8th place finish in the 3200m.

Sarah Storey: Another girl that found herself in track.  From 60.8 to 11:19, she put times up all across the board.  A real candidate to be in the Top-10.

Caroline Farley: Caroline displayed a bit of strength during track.  Her 11:07 at Bluejay was a lifetime best, and she backed that up with a 7th place finish at D2 State.

Mara Longenecker: 10th at State in 2020.  144th at State in 2019.  That’s a pretty great improvement, right?

Kendall Schopieray: I’ve told her this privately and I’ll say it here publicly.  Very proud of how Kendall responded to a tough sophomore year.  All-State last year and early time trial results suggest she’s in even better shape.

Mackenzie Hill: She displayed it as a freshman and once again as a junior, she’s a total mid-distance stud.  2:19/5:09 this spring.  But she can also hang in cross, getting it done in 18:55 at Otsego’s regional.

Abigail Petr: Injuries put a dent into the previous fall, but they didn’t deny her the opportunity to compete this spring.  5:14, and 11:14, all while being the consummate teammate.

Sophie Nedoff: As a freshman, her best was 22:26.  As a junior, she finished 18th in D2. 

Cami Kraai: Multiple mid-12 efforts to her name during her 8th grade year, along with a 2nd place finish in the WMC (going up against those Hart girls).

Grace Pettit: Two consecutive All-States for Grace.  2020 also featured her first Allegan County title. 

Sarah Dixon: FHE has quietly built a solid program, and Sarah has quietly put together an outstanding two years.  She grabbed that final All-State spot last year and is in position to place even higher. 

Ellory Clason: While Ellory didn’t have the cross country honors, she more than made up for it in track.  A 12th place finish in the 3200m at State is her best on a big stage, while her 5:17 in the 1600m shows her outright speed.

Taylor Mater: I appreciate Taylor’s constant reminder that there’s more to Fremont than their boys team.  Two consecutive All-States for this girl.

Megan Germain: Megan joined an already loaded Otsego squad and was an immediate contributor.  In cross, an 8th place finish in Region 13, but she really came into her own during track with 10th in the 1600m. 

Kennedi Wood: Kennedi’s freshman year included four sub-20 efforts, highlighted by a 19:34 (3rd spot) at the OK Silver Conference Meet.

Nora Boufford: Once Nora became acquainted with the 19’s, she went on a roll.  19:26 at Bulldog Elite, 13th at Region 11.  We didn’t get to see her compete on the grass track, but she was on pace to be a major factor there. 

Cecelia Thorington: Cecelia is a championship level runner.  SEC White Champ in both cross country and the 1600m.

Trilian Krug: Trilian’s 9th grade fall brought forth a few glimpses into her potential.  Two examples of that would be her 19:28 at Stockbridge and 19:22 at the Meet of Champions.

Haileigh Bissett: She enters her senior year with a BWAC title, Thumb Area title, and an All-State.  Let’s see what else Haileigh can add to her resume.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
10413
11414
12311
13313
14315
15311
1625
1726
18313

DARK HORSES

Ava Pergitone: Ava is a bit underrated because of her performance last November, but don’t let that get in the way of a season where she set a personal best and was a top-10 finisher in Region 17.  Plus she laid down some legit times in track – 5:21 and 11:55.

Bea Reeser: Bea’s profile is one of intrigue.  A few standout performances in cross, a 20:17 at Region 11, but also a majority of races in the 21’s.  In track, we started to see a bit more of that talent, where she ventured into the low 5:30’s.

Eleanor Cool: I’ve learned to trust Coach Thiebaut when it comes to evaluating Cadillac’s team.  He has high hopes for Ellie and so do I.  With a summer of dedicated training, she should find herself in the low-18’s. 

Helena Kerber: Helena’s career debut was above 26:00.  Her freshmen year ended with a 2:34/5:30 double at regionals.  Plus she met Donavan Brazier this summer, so some of his speed probably rubbed off on her.

Julia Finley: Julia nabbed an All-State honor as a sophomore and has spent time in the 18’s the past two years.  As a junior, MIS wasn’t her best race ever, but if there’s an athlete-centric coach that can bring about a great performance, Coach Carlson is that guy.

Olivia Jolly: You won’t find many people that love the sport as much as Olivia does.  The results usually come for those people, and Olivia’s had hints of greatness.  A 19:03 as a freshman is one of them, but so was her contribution to Mason’s 5th place 4×8 team.

Reese Powers & Hannah Fisher: These Marysville girls bring about greatness in each other.  Reese is an accomplished track star, winner of the D2 400m.  Next spring, she wants that tough 400/800 double.  Hannah’s gone 2:19, so she’s no slouch in the speed department either.  She also threw down a 18:48 at the Hansons 3 Mile a few weeks ago, on a course full of trails and hills. 

Sophie Endrud: I think it was mentioned in the Region 16 preview, but Sophie is massively underrated.  Partially because of the enormity of her breakout race at State.  She hit 27 sec. PB on a day of unfavorable conditions.  Excited to see how she builds upon that performance.

BOYS

TOP TEAMS

Adrian (Rank: 1)

Battle Creek Harper Creek (Rank: 20)

Owen Gilbert: I-8 Champion in an outstanding time of 16:26.

Chelsea (Rank: 5)

Clio (Rank: 25)

Gabriel Phillips: Big career progression from over 19:00 as a freshman to a 2nd place finish in Region 15.  Narrowly missed All-State, which I’m sure has motivated him over the past 9 months.

East Grand Rapids (Rank: 3)

Flint Powers Catholic (Rank: 22)

Lucas Danic: Sometimes you have to take your lumps at the 0x’s before you break through.  Lucas had 5 results between 17:00 and 17:10 last fall, but his 2:04/4:45 indicate 16’s are in his future.

Fowlerville (Rank: 15)

Tyler Perras: His 2020 season featured his first jaunt under 17:00, a Top-10 finish at CAAC Red, and a voyage down to MIS.

Freeland (Rank: 9)

Fremont (Rank: 13)

Gavin Schuler: Gavin and his teammates are excited to prove that the Packers are still a dynasty.  He’s coming off a track season that saw him showcase his distance prowess with a 10:20.

Grand Rapids Christian (Rank: 6)

Holland Christian (Rank: 14)

Austin Brinks: Can the 400/800 translate to the mud, grass, and gravel?  We’re sure to find out.  Austin rocked a 50.1 at State, earning him a 3rd place finish.

Ionia (Rank: 17)

Josiah Magley: So severely underrated that I’m not waiting until the dark horse section.  These numbers are, for the most part, half XC, half track.  Josiah was above 18:00 for all of XC, then ran 4:37/9:39 in track.

Linden (Rank: 23)

Ryan Blackwood: Eberhard and Meckstroth will be reliable, but watch out for Ryan.  He snuck under 5:00 as a sophomore.

Mason (Rank: 10)

Monroe Jefferson (Rank: 21)

Carter McCalister: Broke 17:00 a few times, but made his hay in track. Huron League Champ in the 1600m and split a 2:05 on Jefferson’s 4th place 4×8.

Otsego (Rank: 4)

Petoskey (Rank: 8)

Pinckney (Rank: 2)

Riverview (Rank: 19)

Sam Polgar: Came back from halted 2019 season to help the Pirates qualify for State.  In that State meet, he narrowly scooted under his previous best with a 16:47.

Sparta (Rank: 12)

Noah Momber: Big track season (4:56/10:44) from this guy sets him up to drop significant time.

Spring Lake (Rank: 16)

Carter Phillips: He displays such a nice range.  He’s smashed that 17:00 barrier, he’s also smashed a few 400s, 52.1 as his best.

St. Clair (Rank: 11)

David Harris: If you’ve noticed a theme by now, I look to track season to see which athletes have progressed.  He was on a 1600m tear to close this past one out: 3rd in the MAC Gold, 4th at Regionals, and 6th at the BWA Meet of Champions.

St. Johns (Rank: 24)

Tyler Dohm: The Red Wings graduate a ton and Tyler looks well suited to help fill the void.  He closed the 2021 track season with a 10:40.

Yale (Rank: 7)

Zeeland East (Rank: 18)

Gavin Wiersma: First track season and it seems as if he likes the surface.  2:05/4:38/10:27 this spring. 

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Adrian150
2Pinckney155
3East Grand Rapids162
4Otsego171
5Chelsea178
6Freeland258
7Grand Rapids Christian272
8Yale281
9Petoskey293
10Fremont359
11Mason360
12Fowlerville377
13Sparta377
14Holland Christian383
15St. Clair384
16Spring Lake410
17Linden436
18Battle Creek Harper Creek444
19Riverview448
20Ionia454
21Flint Powers Catholic474
22Clio475
23Goodrich493
24Hudsonville Unity Christian514
25Berrien Springs532
26Wayland Union550
27Armada674

TOP ATHLETES

Caleb Jarema

Ian Hill

Conor Somers

Michael Hegarty

Connell Alford

Parker Lambers

Race Bettich

Caden Meyer

TJ Hansen

Kilian Whalen

Braydon Honsinger

Nick Cockerel

Tinsae Nelson

Aiden Smith

Griffin Armbrustmacher

Aiden Sullivan: From 32nd at Regionals as a freshman to 38th at State as a sophomore.  We didn’t see it in a true 800, but he split a 1:57 as well. 

River Meckstroth: 16:30s for both of the past two years and those quick times have carried him to two consecutive top-50 finishes. 

Ben Zwart: Bulldog Elite and Region 13 were two breakout performances, 16:19s at both.  He backed those up with multiple sub-10’s in track. 

Eli Veen: Makenna who?  Eli was 19th at D2 State last fall. 

Zachary Curd: Zach and the rest of the Fowlerville squad peaked hard, surprisingly achieving a State qualifier.  He begun his championship season with a 16:10 (3rd) at CAAC Red and continued from there, grabbing 21st at D2 State.

Kyle Eberhard: Kyle’s here on account of his dominance on the oval.  He earned a victory at Region 19 with a 4:26, two weeks later he placed 11th at State.

Ryan Brinker: Ryan’s part of an EGR class, that if they continue to train together, will reign together.  He’s already started with a 9:53 this spring. 

Lukas Kriesch: A 9:50 (2nd in Region 20) gives thought to significant time drops this fall.

Garrett Winter: The Parchment boys move up to Division 2 this year.  Garrett’s had a ton of success in D3, with three All-State efforts across track and XC. 

Michael Dennis: Gotta love his inability to have a bad race.  All 1600s under 4:45, all 3200s under 10:05.  Michael still reached down to hit some quick marks, a 9:46 at Shepherd standing out. 

Alex Thole: Ended his freshman cross season with multiple sub-17’s.  Ended his freshmen track season with multiple sub-10’s.  Expect him, Brinker, and Robinson to continue to carry one another.

Gavin VanSolkema: Gavin turned a ton of heads last fall, knocking more than 100 seconds off his previous best.

Jacob Wurtzel: A 16:57 at State didn’t show his true potential.  He proved that by running 16:28 at his home course a week later.

Elijah Robinson: It’s a broken record with these EGR folks.  9:53 in track.  A little prediction here: One of the three will have a breakthrough race.  The others will soon realize, I’m capable of that.  Then they’ll follow.  That’s a major benefit of having training partners at the same pace and capability.

Jackson Jones: If their 4×8 is any evidence, Sparta will have another rock solid team.  Jackson hit 2:03 in the 800 and has been in the mid-16’s for the past two years.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
10314
1128
1249
13210
14414
1549
16213
1729
18416

DARK HORSES

Brad White: *Astute readers may have noticed that Clare should be D2.  So here you go, Brad*

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.

Bram Hartsuff: Any time you can grind through the rigors of GLR, you can handle what’s thrown at you in cross country.  To make up for not getting up there this year, there was some intense Strava viewing.  If you can average sub-7 on the AuSable River Run, you can run low-16’s if not faster. 

Bryce Soule: Adrian’s secret weapon that vaults them to State title contention.  Lenawee County Champ in the 800m, but also went 4:28/9:49.

Brock DenUyl: Great summer of training for Brock.  He ran a 16:58 at Goodells midseason, but his season didn’t close on that level.  He seemingly rectified that in track, his 10:13 at the BWA Meet of Champions was an 11 sec. personal best.

Chase Brown: Chase is another example of the numbers not quantifying his true condition.  His cross times underrate him, as the spring showed he’s back to his previous form.  Chase was sub-17 as a sophomore and ran 9:52 a few months back.

Logan Seymour: I hope Logan is in this sport for good.  He ran very well as a freshman, breaking 17:00 late.  But didn’t run cross last year.  During track, he broke 2:00 twice, the second time netting him a 4th place finish at State.

Jake O’Neil: He’s got the bloodlines.  But bloodlines don’t mean squat if you’re not putting in the work.  Pure mileage over the summer (read: no speed) has led to a personal best in the 1600m.

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