Ohhhh boy, this is a first ever in any official prognostications. My own, personal opinion. A few weeks ago, I thought there’d be enough time to do the math on all divisions, all races, I was 100% wrong on that one. Oh well, I’ve been wrong before. And I’ll probably be wrong on many of these picks.
As always, I tried to give shoutouts to many participating. Usually these shoutouts will go to seniors and those that put their story out to the world. If you’d like some love or you’d like your athletes to gain a bit more recognition, reach out! I can look at stats and accomplishments all day, but knowing a runner’s struggles, ambitions, leadership – that means a ton more. I have a whole summer’s worth of writing ahead of me, let me know about you and your people!
Lezawe Osterink is clearly the class of the field. Lezawe took the disappointment of not being able to compete at the 2020 XC State Finals and has turned that into quite the run. He finished 5th in the 3200m here last year, won the XC state title this past fall, and has reached some low (or high?) levels in the 3200m this spring. He’s shown tremendous strength, heading down to 9:13 just this past weekend.
Seeded further down but with the 2nd fastest time in D4 is Samuel Paga. The St. Michael star has shown he has the 800m prowess necessary to cushion a hot early pace (multiple 2:01s across the past two seasons).
The Potter’s House crew in general looks impressive, with both Jackson Rodriguez and Logan Swiney hitting marks in the low 4:30s.
What I look for most when evaluating the 1600 is one’s 800m. One, to show finishing speed, two, to get an idea of one’s ability to handle a redlining pace.
The boys 800 field is replete with many of the same crew from the 1600m plus a few newcomers with precipitous drops this outdoor season. Gabriel Richard’s Alex Meszaros has taken 10+ seconds off his 800m best en route to a 2:02 at the Metro Classic. Kodey Davey went from 2:08 as a junior to 2:03 as a senior, Logan Johnson from 2:11 to 2:04.
Petersburg-Summerfield’s Brandon Thompson finished second here last year and he still retains that incredible speed, with a few 11.xx 100m’s this year. He’ll be doubling back after the 400m, a tough double, but nothing a quarterback in there for every play cannot handle.
As with the 1600m, I have a philosophy going here. One, looking to the 400m (see a theme here?), and two, noticing who is doubling back after the 1600m.
Clearly again, Lezawe Osterink is the class of the field. He’s aided by not running the 800m, he’s also aided by running a freaking 9:13, top-15 time in Michigan.
There’s quite a pack of kids who have marks in the high-9’s this year. Isaac Bos, Nile Devers, Ashton Keiffer. Devers ditched the iconic flow, but the results remain the same. 3x All-State in XC, 4th place in 2021’s 3200m. Ashton is part of a CC-C winning tradition, both on the track and in Brooklyn. As with Devers, Bos was All-State here last year and twice All-State in cross.
Allen Park Cabrini’s Christopher Russelburg has undergone a major transformation this spring. While consistently a solid performer, running in the 17’s over the 5k distance, he hasn’t taken that next step until now. He’s sped to a 10:08 and is also the Wayne County Champion in the 3200m.
For the 3200m, I look for fresh legs and cross country success:
Our champion of champions, Abby VanderKooi, is back for one last hurrah. Oddly enough, this is her first opportunity to grab a Division 4 crown on the track. She already has three on the grass, along with two D3 titles in track. She’s listed in four events, all the distance events plus the relays. Her track record over the years has shown she excels more as the distance goes up (I can’t wait for those college 10ks).
Makenna Scott and Aidan Harrand, the friendliest of rivals, have battled for the past two years in that. Aiden has had the upper hand in the shorter stuff, Makenna in the longer stuff.
Eliza Keith is a girl I look to outperform expectations. She’s shown some leg speed, but also seems to be peaking at the right time, evidenced by her 4th place finish in the Oakland County 1600m.
- VanderKooi (Abby)
- VanderKooi (Grace)
- Van Loton
This is the one race, at least in Division Four, that has potential to generate points from the slower heat. The Lutheran NW girls, Madeleine Barge, Julia Troxel, and Abby Rice have been a revelation, able to mix it up with Oakland County’s best, despite being such a small institution. Rice has shown the most prowess, dipping down to 2:20 to win the MIAC crown.
Along with standout Harrand, the field contains four top-8 girls from last year: Megan Roberts, Neili Pike, Ruby Hogan, and Grace Epkey.
If you’re seeking some speeeeeeeed, check out Fowler’s Ella Hufnagel. The freshman was just introduced to the 800m in mid-May and she’s consistently run 2:30’s. But 61.6 and 28.8 in the 400m and 200m respectively show intrigue.
Let’s talk about Makenna Scott. Makenna is the true definition of a champion. She isn’t blessed with the best leg speed, she’s a grinder. That steadiness helped in her in the hot conditions at the 2020 State Finals, covering that last mile in a blistering pace, passing two others en route to a title. Her regional performance this year, putting it on the line by herself, aiming for a sub-11, but falling just short.
I also think of Riley Hacker in that same light. She’s had highs in the sport, All-State in cross country early in her career. She’s had lows, a disappointing finish to her 2020 XC season. And she’s put it all back together, getting onto that podium again last November, reaching faster times this spring.
This field is LOADED, especially with those in the 4:20-4:25 range. You have the experienced seniors, Sam Peterson and Carson Brunk. The juniors who have been through the ringer, Rogan Melling and Parks Allen. And those youngins, Boden Genovese and Collin Farmer.
I’ve loved the growth of Peterson and Brunk over the past few years. Both have taken their lumps early in their career, are now callused to the difficulties of running at a high level, and race with a ferocity.
And don’t discount Noah Morrow. Although he hasn’t raced the 1600m much outdoors, he does have a 4:15 in his bag from the indoor season.
This is the test. This is where it gets real for Hunter Jones. Last year, he attempted the vaunted distance triple and fell short, finishing second in both the 800m and 3200m. Throughout the year, he’s shown his strength, winning the 5k at Nationals, clicking off 67 after 67 at MITS State. He’s gonna have competition.
Chesaning’s Levi Maier busted out a 3+ second personal best to take second in the D3 MITCA 800m, just sneaking under 1:55. Of course, he lost to Hunter, but at the beginning of the season, it was a much greater gap between the two.
Assuredly spurred by the Jayhawk championship run, Thomas Richards is putting up quite the swan song himself. The senior finally broke 2:00 at Regionals, running 1:57.9 and was joined by Hart’s Wyatt Dean, who finished slightly ahead of him.
At the end of a grueling, long meet after a grueling, long season, I like grinders. Which is, well, everyone in this field. But grinders in their career too. Tristan Ashley (along with his mid-D counterpart Max Sharnas), has been through a lot. His race at the 2020 State XC Meet had to be tough, high expectations for his team coming in, it just didn’t work out in his favor. Yet he’s here, having nabbed an All-State in track last year, an All-State in cross last fall.
Aaron Bowerman has been on the other side of that, helping the Sharks win two consecutive state titles. St. Louis always comes on at the right time in the fall, I expect no less in June.
A battle of girls with championship experience and blistering speed. Lani Bloom captured the mile national championship at Nike Indoors, winning in a way I hadn’t seen much from her, kicking someone down in the final 50m. Usually she just wins 800m titles from the gun, as what went down at Indoor State.
Also at Indoor State, Allison Chmielewski won the DMR crown for Up North Elite squad, besting D1 standout Jayden Harberts on the final lap. Madison Osterberg has wheels, so does Jessica Jazwinski.
Watch out for Kara Terakedis as well. The junior has come into her own this track season, running 5:13 early in the year on top of many low-2:20’s and sub-65s.
You know, I’ve never thought of Audrianna Enns as a mid-distance star. I know she’s been All-State all four years in cross, but perhaps my conceptions don’t match reality. Reality is she was 7th here last year, two consecutive years she’s been under 2:20, and has close to 60 sec. 400 speed. She’s doubling back from the 1600m, along with the usual suspects Bloom, Osterberg, Jazwinski.
Madeleine Hill has undergone a cosmic improvement this spring. Take a look at these drops: 5:43 to 5:14, 12:44 to 11:24, and 2:36 to 2:20. I have no doubt competing with those West Michigan Harriers over the winter had a great affect on her confidence and fitness.
This is the first year of track over at Grand Rapids Covenant Christian, just in the nick of time to let Meghan Beute experience some glory on the oval. She’s had multiple sub-11 efforts, a sub-5 at Metro Health, a regional championship in the 3200m. During indoor, she went sub-18 at Nike Nationals, good for 3rd place.
Faith Smith has battled injury for the greater part of the past 15 months, yet she’s still here. Faith has hovered around the 11:00 mark throughout the whole season, indoor and outdoor. But you have to run your 11:07s and 10:59s to get your breakthrough, a 10:44 at the Selby Classic.
Rylee Tolson has been through it all too. State titles, struggles to finish, all in her aggressive style. These latter two will be teammates next year, for one last time, these Jackson-area girls will face off.
- Enns (Alyson)
Parker Lambers has been a mainstay in these rankings and ratings over the past few years. The past three years, he’s finished All-State in cross, but to me, even with those cross finishes, he’s always been more of a speed guy. Well, evidenced by his race at New Balance, he’s put together a lethal combo. An 8:57 there, paired with his 1:57 speed, gives way to results such as the 4:12 at Houseman.
The home track advantage will have to be key for Aiden Sullivan. Actually, it won’t. Aiden dominated the slow heat at Barnyard and he’s here in the slow heat again. Can he bring it, run unobstructed on the way to placing? Experience says yes, but I’m sure others in this race may have something to say.
- Winter (Garrett)
Usually, it’s obvious when someone is about to pop a fast time. They’ve run it in a relay, their 400 indicates an improvement is near. And then there’s Owen Gilbert. A season full of 1:59s, 2:00+s, an occasional 1:57 high, gave way to a blazing 1:53.55 in the Battle Creek City Meet, where he beat D1 standout Caleb Bost. Can he replicate that immaculate championship level performance?
Opposite of Lambers, Conor Somers has shown some wheels this spring. I’ve always felt Conor is an example of an extremely gritty runner (and with a strength-based training program at GVSU, will flourish), dealing with those hills at Branstrom Park, you gotta be. Along with that toughness has been some serious speed. 51.4 in a dual, a few sub-1:56s.
A major darkhorse here is St. Clair’s Sam Vitale. In his first year of track, it’s just been time drop after time drop. Does he have another one left in him?
In any normal year, Caleb Jarema would be spoken of as a sensation, one of Michigan’s best. With Riley Hough down the road, less attention goes his way. His 8:54 at New Balance ranks him as the 9th fastest boy in MIchigan HS history at that distance.
While many of the state’s best were competing in Farmington in early May, Josiah Magley dictated the race from the front at Shepherd. He led a considerable pack in the early going, but kept upping the ante on the pace, dropping the field as the laps clicked by. He’ll be relatively fresh here, battling against a field that appears to be going through the ringer of races.
Other than the D1 Boys 800m, this is about the most wide open distance race you’ll see this weekend. The race is packed with girls with championship experience, whether that’s running at a state meet, winning at a state meet, or outperforming expectations at a state meet.
Noel Vanderwall has always brought it at the end of the year. 3x All-State in cross, this year her best finish yet. Last year in track, a surprise 4th, running a rare PR on that hot day.
Coming down to closing speed, my money’s on Lily Mataway. In November, she kicked down a TON of athletes to nab the 27th spot at MIS.
Then you have your senior girls in their last State Finals, Hannah Fisher, Kendall Schopieray, and Sarah Storey.
Throughout middle school, it was apparent Camryn Bodine had a little speed. Her high-2:20 times weren’t the world’s best, but still among the fastest in Michigan. Being among the fastest MSers in the state wasn’t good enough for her, and during that 2020 spring, she put in the work that led to the results we’ve seen the past two years. Both years she’s been south of 2:16, this year she’s undefeated.
Reese Powers is an unbelievable talent that will be going against her. Reese dreams big, she told me last summer her goal is to pull off the daunting 400/800 double. Well, she’ll be in a battle with Liz Anderson and she’ll be in a battle with Cam here. The stage will not be too big for her, as she captured the 400m title last year.
There’s a reason I’ve drafted Madelyn Frens twice for the MITCA Meet of Champions. She’s such a smart racer and a fierce competitor. Not many were able to outkick the great Emma Squires, but in 2021, Madelyn emerged victorious on the final lap. She hasn’t stopped winning since.
If you’ve read enough of my thoughts, you know my love for athletes that battle. Name an injury and Ainsley Workman has had it. You can also name a year at MIS and she’s been in the top-10. In spite of the heartaches and time off, she’s always a presence at the end of the year. This spring, no different, her 10:50 at Houseman, a personal best three years in the making.
Worth noting that Mary Richmond has the opportunity to be the only girl to make Top-8 in both long distance events during indoor and outdoor. Mary has and probably will take her lumps in championship races and I’m confident the payoff will come at some point… maybe Saturday?
I see this as a battle between the experienced vets, Riley Hough, Peter Baracco, Kenny Minto, and Luke Venhuizen against the great potential of kids like Brendan Herger and Seth Norder. Obviously, Riley is the favorite. He can win from the front, he can kick, he can cover moves, he’s extremely talented and knows how to break the will of his competitors. The question is: will anyone go with him? Seth Norder has the results that should give him the confidence to do so. I love how Grand Haven runs as a team and doesn’t seek elite fields, but I wonder if the lack of experience against the state’s very best will come back to haunt them.
Coming into the year, the question was not only how competitive this race would be, but who the heck would fill out the field? Every week, we’re adding a new name as a contender. Shawn Juliette laid the hammer down at Indoor State en route to a championship. Trent McFarland did the same at Elaine Leigh. Caleb Bost has been running 1:55-56 for the better part of a month. Cole Toney ripped a 1:55 at Metro Health. Brady McArdle sticks his nose in every race, so did Gavin Steele in an upset at Regionals. So many potential winners, but there’s only one D1 Trent.
Benne Anderson is quietly one of the better distance runners in the state. When I say quietly, no media hype. People were asking me at New Balance, who’s the kid with the tiger on the jersey? Oh, just Benne, cruising along to an 8:56. He’ll be fresher than most here, as will those Romeo boys, Jack Kelke and Owen Sharnas. Truly the end of an era in northern Macomb County, but I know the Bulldogs have more in the pipeline.
Like clockwork, Julia Flynn drops astounding marks in the latter stages of the track season. In 2021, it was a 4:41 in a dual against TCW. This past week, a 2:08 at the Big North Conference Meet. Julia captured her first state title in indoor, although not in the MHSAA capacity, I feel that experience will pay dividends here.
The opposite of clockwork has been Malarie Pinwar’s career. Her season bests as a freshman were 2:40/6:24. As a senior, 2:17/4:55. And to think she’s going to a school that pound for pound is one of the better distance schools in the state, I can’t wait to see where she lands in this career. In the meantime though, that speed and strength is well capable of a top-5 finish.
Here we’ll have a fresh Sarah Forsyth and Kylee King against that 2:08 speed. Kylee will be running with the pressure of holding up her end of the bargain for a potential Knight state title. And you know Jiles instills the quality of never folding, she’ll be focused and ready to roll. Forsyth has dropped some legitimate speed this year, clocking 55.x in a relay, 57.0 in the open 400m. Sarah Coyne is fearless, as she was one of the few girls to take a lead on Audrey DaDamio last year.
- Sanok Dufallo
Arianne Olson has been a 3200m savant over the course of her career. Multiple sub-10:30’s as a sophomore, a second place finish in the heat last year. She popped a 10:06 earlier this season, and in one of the more impressive kicks that my eyes have witnessed, nabbed a victory in the mile at Barnyard.
Lisa Luecke recognized one of her weaknesses, corrected it, and has turned in one of the better distance seasons in Jaguar history. After breaking 18:00 late in her junior year, she had a decent 2021 track season, running 5:19/11:24, but not even close to the high standard she set in cross. This winter, she made the decision to get stronger, to lift, to gain some power in those legs. And it’s paid off, with school records in the 800m and 3200m.
And here’s my upset pick of the day. Lucy Cook has made it look so effortless this year. She’s only lost twice, once in a 400m, once to Pinwar. A 10:42 at Elmer Ball, a gusty, cold day, Lucy sat on the leaders for three laps, then took off. Oakland County Champ in the 800m and 1600m. And it’s not as if the stage will be too big, she was 6th at XC State, 3rd in the Meet of Champions.