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Division 1: 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 D1 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 D1. Shining example here of Caledonia and Brighton. Against all of D1, Brighton. Across the projected state field, Caledonia. Should be an exciting year!

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 D1.  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

Ann Arbor Pioneer (Rank: 1)

Bay City Western (Rank: 17)

Ambria Nagel: Ambria had her first jaunt under 20:00 in cross, then really took off in track.  A 5:27 stands out, as does top-6 finishes in the 1600/3200m at SVL.

Brighton (Rank: 7)

Brownstown-Woodhaven (Rank: 6)

Canton (Rank: 24)

Cara Newman: The junior has been right in the top-10 at Region 6 for both her regional races.  Hit a personal best in her final 1600m of the spring, a 5:20 at Larry Steeb.

Clarkston (Rank: 13)

Ava Tereau: Ava outperformed her ranking in last year’s championship season.  9th in Oakland County, 4th at OAA Red, 24th in D1.

Fenton (Rank: 19)

Taylor Huntoon: The senior improved her position at MIS by nearly 100 places, just missing an All-State spot at 35.  She excels in mid-distance in track, boasting PB’s of 60.3/2:20

Forest Hills Central (Rank: 11)

Peyton Ludwig: Shot down as far as 19:17 in cross, then reached further into her bag with a 5:19, which placed 6th in the OK White.

Grand Blanc (Rank: 14)

Lydia Minzey: Entering her senior year, Lydia has experience of being reliable in late-season meets.  11th in each of the past two years at Regionals.

Grand Haven (Rank: 8)

Holland West Ottawa (Rank: 3)

Hudsonville (Rank: 23)

Abby Martin: From 2019 to 2020, she dropped a minute+ off her previous best, getting down as far as 19:39.

Midland Dow (Rank: 9)

Northville (Rank: 18)

Gina Couyoumjian: So much dedication to the sport from this girl and we saw some real pay off this spring, where she hit 2:20 in the 800m.  Not as if she can’t move up to 5k, as she’s been sub-20 in all three years.

Okemos (Rank: 20)

Alex Beal: She’s slipped under 20:00 the past two years and has been a major factor in Okemos pulling off Regional upsets in both of those years.

Plymouth (Rank: 21)

Sarah Coyne: 800m star had an outstanding cross campaign too.  Dropped over a minute, finally landing at 19:31.  But the track is where we saw her true talent, 2:17/5:09.

Rockford (Rank: 10)

Romeo (Rank: 4)

Saline (Rank: 2)

South Lyon East (Rank: 25)

Liliane Aittama: Much appreciation to those who venture out into new events.  Distance running commonly zaps your fast-twitch, explosive fibers.  Liliane bucks that trend, a 5’5 high jumper.  Oh, she’s run sub-19:15 in both of her fall seasons.

St. Joseph (Rank: 15)

Riley Mullen: Riley recovered from a tough cross season to set down some serious times, 5:25 and 12:18.

Temperance Bedford (Rank: 22)

Ally Betkey: This 400 girl has broken 20:00 in both her freshman and sophomore years.  But she’s a supreme long sprint talent, her 59.1 placing 11th in D1.

Traverse City Central (Rank: 5)

Traverse City West (Rank: 16)

Elliott Smith: Season in, season out, Elliott’s always a force for TC West.  She had her best individual season yet in track, where she ran as low as 2:22/5:06.

Walled Lake Northern (Rank: 12)

Mia Czarnowski: Her freshman year saw her race in the low-19’s multiple times, most notably at Oakland County (8th) and Regionals (7th).

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Ann Arbor Pioneer131
2Saline133
3Holland West Ottawa146
4Romeo208
5Traverse City Central212
6Brighton250
7Brownstown Woodhaven256
8Grand Haven280
9Midland Dow299
10Traverse City West304
11Grand Blanc337
12Forest Hills Central341
13Clarkston354
14Walled Lake Northern363
15Northville388
16St. Joseph397
17Plymouth424
18Rockford436
19Fenton443
20Okemos455
21South Lyon East472
22Canton480
23Jenison488
24Rochester Hills Stoney Creek560
25Troy569
26Birmingham Seaholm614
27Royal Oak715

TOP ATHLETES

Julia Flynn

Clara James-Heer

Rachel Forsyth

Arianne Olson

Jayden Harberts

Madison Foster

Lucy Cook: Competed for the RARA Road Runners last fall, so I was unsure which school she’d attend (and thus, no 50 Tickets).  But 5:17/11:22 in track, 17:25 at the River Bends 3 Mile (road, trail, grass).  Real candidate to be sub-18.

Selma Anderson

Jennie Line

Cookie Baugh

Helen Sachs

Lola Thomas

Lauren Kiley

Allie Arnsman

Ava King

Allison Cornell

Madison Clor

Katie Carothers

Lisa Luecke

Sienna Snyder

Anna Delgado

Madi Szymanski

Sarah Forsyth

Lydia Alig

Sophia Thomas

Emily Reeves

Ella Kirkwood: She’s just solid all around.  11:37, 2:20 representing both sides of the spectrum.  A 19:06 at Regionals netted her a 14th place and helped TC Central advance to another State Meet.

Alexandra Brigham: Clarkston always peaks well and Alexandra was no exception in 2020.  Broke into the 18’s with a 18:45 at the Clintonwood Regional, backed it up with a 29th place at MIS. 

Mackenzie Wright: To get on this elite level, you’ve gotta run in the 18’s.  Mackenzie did that at KLAA, running a massive PB of 18:49.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
1313
2413
3511
4311
5419
636
7311
802
9214

DARK HORSES

Annika Sandman: Her entire sophomore year was full of gradual progress.  19:43 at Benzie led to 19:09 at Riverside Park led to 19:01 at the Meet of Champions.  And all of those set the stage for a track season where she went 5:15/11:17.

Briana Vojinov: Briana’s track season was cut short by injury, but indoor saw semblances of what she’s capable of.  Her 5:11 at the MITS State Meet placed 4th. 

Kate Jenkins: Kate wasn’t able to train much in the winter, but her and the whole Bloomfield Hills squad went for a wondrous ride in track.  5:12/11:12 in track, but also a major contributor to their 7th place 4×4 team.

Kylee King: What I love about Motor City is they have their mid-distance kids run cross for the strength.  I have no doubt her cross season was a major help in running 2:11 this summer. 

Madison Rempalski: Has found a home in cross country amongst the 5(!) sports she plays.  She peaked so well last year, running sub-19 in 4 of her final 5 races.

Meagan Verellen: 18:52 at the Hansons 3 Mile at River Bends (I’m sorry for continually referring to this, but probably the best collection of high school girls racing against each other over 3+ miles this summer).  Coach Scott definitely has the Utica program on the right track, and leaps from contributors like Meagan are a major help.

BOYS

TOP TEAMS

Ann Arbor Pioneer (Rank: 3)

Battle Creek Lakeview (Rank: 24)

Parker LaGro: Over 45 sec. leaps per year over the past two years for Parker.  If he keeps it up, he’ll be well into the 15’s.

Brighton (Rank: 1)

Caledonia (Rank: 2)

Davison (Rank: 10)

Detroit Catholic Central (Rank: 8)

Farmington (Rank: 15)

Eddie King: Excelled in the 800/1600m this past track season, reaching as low as 4:34.

Grand Haven (Rank: 18)

Nolan Clark: Incremental improvement throughout the 2020 cross season led to a season best 16:21 at the Buckley Regional.  That ascent continued into track, where he closed with 4 straight sub-10’s.

Hartland (Rank: 6)

Kalamazoo Central (Rank: 22)

Jonas Fraley-Burgett: Big-time, big race runner.  Eighteen second PB in the Portage Regional led to a 5th place finish.  A 9:49 on a scorching day in East Kentwood was also a slight PB.

Lake Orion (Rank: 14)

Hong Bing Tang: In his junior year, was finally able to show the intriguing potential he displayed as a freshman.  Broke 10:00 to finish 5th at OAA Red/White.

Lowell (Rank: 13)

Cole Weston: Perhaps the best runner in the state to not compete in Brooklyn.  He’s been in the mid-16’s each of the past two years.  His track season, especially that 9:50, sets the stage for that maiden voyage downstate.

Milford (Rank: 23)

Thomas Kennedy: Could be a breakout performer for Milford.  Broke 18:00 late in the year, then ran 2:07 in track.

Northville (Rank: 7)

Novi (Rank: 9)

Okemos (Rank: 20)

Anders Howe: Enormous breakthroughs late in track set the stage for his senior year.  4:32/9:41 make him a great candidate to storm into the 15’s.

Plymouth (Rank: 21)

Alex Bobak: Two years of HS running, two years under 17:00.  Established himself as an 800m runner this spring, where he went 2:02.

Portage Central (Rank: 19)

Caleb Heid: Didn’t close his cross season to what he’s capable of, but definitely made up for that in track.  Ran 4:33 to end the season at Distance Night at the CAT.

Rockford (Rank: 4)

Romeo (Rank: 5)

Saginaw Heritage (Rank: 25)

Gabriel Trevino: Steady drops every single year.  Gabe started as an 18:30 guy, and got into the 16’s for the first time in 2020.

Saline (Rank: 17)

Jason Whitton: After hovering above and below that 17:00 barrier in cross, cemented himself as a 800 guy in track.  2:01 and important part of Saline’s 4th place 4×8.

Traverse City Central (Rank: 11)

Joe Muha: One of the better freshmen in the state in 2019 and improved upon that as a sophomore, where he gave us a few sub-16:20’s.

Traverse City West (Rank: 12)

Isaac Stone: People seem to love this kid.  Really made a jump in October, first with a 16:25 at Bluejay and ending with a 16:20 at MIS.

Walled Lake Northern (Rank: 16)

Ethan Parker: He ended his cross season on a high note, then really ripped it in track.  Finished 12th at D1 State in the 800, 8th at Oakland County, and dropped a 1:57.3 over the summer.

STATE PROJECTIONS

PlaceTeamScore
1Caledonia161
2Brighton161
3Ann Arbor Pioneer183
4Rockford192
5Romeo222
6Hartland241
7Northville298
8Detroit Catholic Central312
9Traverse City Central313
10Davison320
11Novi327
12Traverse City West351
13Walled Lake Northern358
14Farmington360
15Grand Haven365
16Lowell369
17Lake Orion381
18Saline397
19Okemos406
20Portage Central428
21Highland-Milford435
22Kalamazoo Central447
23Clarkston466
24Royal Oak566
25Grosse Pointe South571
26Temperance Bedford620
27Warren DeLaSalle668

TOP ATHLETES

Riley Hough

Peter Baracco

Jeremy Williams

Jack Kelke

Andrew Sesti

Luke Venhuizen

Benne Anderson

Matthew Zeleke

Henry MonteSano

Matthew Crowley

Brett Leidal

Brady McArdle

Owen Johnson

Owen Sharnas

Kenny Minto

Quinn Cullen

Josh Oom

Jordan Domany

Liam Elder

Sean Byrnes

Nicholas Negru

Ryan O’Rourke

Colin Graham

Klay Grant

William Thomas

Easton Williams

Micah Bauer

Jack Campbell

Gabe Gulbransen: First trip to MIS produced a 16:18 and 39th place.  Continued on that achievement track with a 4:28 this spring, paving the way for dropping more time.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

RegionTop 27 TeamsTop 100 Athletes
1316
2414
3516
4415
529
649
739
803
929

DARK HORSES

Brendan Wiegand: Romeo always has an upperclassman who surprises.  Last year, it was Owen Sharnas.  The year before, Jonathan Craun.  Before that, Luke Schwartz.  After running 2:03/4:37, could it be Brendan?

Cooper Sorsen: The numbers have Cooper as Caledonia’s sixth man (and the tiebreaker on the above predictions), but don’t be shocked if he’s higher.  Ran 9:52 to close out his track season. 

Luke Butler: Didn’t get the chance to run a great 3200m late in May, but if he had, I’m confident he’d be sub-10.  Went 4:31 to close out the season at Larry Steeb.

Michael Williams: Not just an 800 guy, he moved up to the 16 as well this spring, where he went 4:26.  He’s got the speed endurance and a summer at altitude should enhance the aerobic capacity.  (P.S. don’t be shocked if he goes 4:16 next spring)

Seth Norder: The Grand Haven sophomore closed both cross and track with a bang.  16:18 at the Meet of Champions and 4:28 at OK Red.

Tyler Langley: The highest placing freshman in D1 continued to impress in track, going 4:37/9:54.  That 9:54 ranked 2nd amongst all freshmen that will be running D1 in cross.

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