Now we’re getting to the fun part! In previous years, what I’ve done is list the top teams, top individuals. Prior to last summer, I’d write and write and write, then never finish my writings before the season started. In 2021, I made the decision to just list the top teams and not add any creative input. I’m going to bridge that gap this year. The best of the best are covered in the 50 Tickets, the fastest runners on the best teams will be covered in their Top 10s. In these previews, I want to write just a tiny bit about everyone else. Maybe it’s only a sentence, but y’all deserve even the tiniest bit of recognition.
These projections include incoming freshmen. This is a necessary step in the previews, however there are some unknown areas. A major example from this region are smaller, private middle schools. Obviously, kids going to Royal Oak Shrine MS will likely go to Royal Oak Shrine HS. But how about Southgate’s St. Pius? Their HS could be Cabrini, could be Gabriel Richard, maybe Divine Child? I’ll ignore those unknowns, process the ones that make sense, but as a result, there will be cases of freshmen that I miss, and that may skew the projections. If you know of a case outside of the traditional progression, let me know!
Where: Memorial Park, Royal Oak. This will definitely be the most “urban” regional. Located on the corner of 13 Mile and Woodward, miles away from the iconic Hans… I’ll just stop right there. As with anything in southern Oakland County, it’s fairly flat. The park itself does have a few rises, but nothing that I would consider a hill.
We have a course map! From their pre-regional in 2020:
2020 Boys: Riverview Gabriel Richard (State Place in 2021 – 5th), Royal Oak Shrine (16th), Lutheran Westland (23rd)
2020 Girls: Rochester Hills Lutheran NW (3rd), Allen Park Cabrini (13th), Royal Oak Shrine (8th)
Top 25 Boys Teams: Royal Oak Shrine (Top 10), Marine City Cardinal Mooney (Top 10), Lutheran Westland (22nd), Allen Park Cabrini (24th)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (Top 10), Rochester Hills Lutheran NW (Top 10), Royal Oak Shrine (17th)
(As stated earlier, the shoutouts and anecdotes here will be anyone in the Top 15 isn’t on a top team)
Christopher Russelburg – Put it all together in track season, nailing PB’s at both the 1600m and 3200m at State (4:30/10:05).
Alex Meszaros – Defending CHSL C/D and Regional Champion. Russelburg has the times, Alex has the experience, we might see a great duel in four months.
Tom Shafer – Showed much promise as a freshman, breaking 18:00 at both Gabriel Richard and the MIAC Championship.
TJ Donnan – MIAC Champion in both the 1600m and 3200m. One of my favorite customers at the store, a humble man with a great attitude and burgeoning talent.
Merrick Michaelson – Frankel Jewish Academy doesn’t run much, but when they do, Merrick makes it count. Two consecutive state meet qualifications.
Isaac Zammit – Ran a massive PB to close last year, a 18:35 in the CHSL C/D meet at Willow.
Luke Douglas – Showed signs of breakthroughs last year, sub-19 at Spencer Park, Gabriel Richard, then nearly broke 18:00 at State.
Ava Teed – Junior has twice been All-State, twice Top-3 in this region. Will this be the year she breaks through? Had an astounding track season where she reached as low as 11:17 for the 3200m and finished Top-8 in both the 1600m and 3200m.
Erika Van Loton – Regional champ here in 2020, finished 2nd in both 2019 and 2021. Is redemption a possibility?
Natalie Gibbs – Rounded into form last October, grabbed a medal at the Oakland County meet, then turned that into an All-State selection.
Helana Napiorkowski – It was a long road, but she finalllly broke 21:00 late last fall. Had many consistent performances in track, running multiple mid-12 times in the 3200m.
Michaela Kurth – We love the improvement throughout the year, as she started 2021 with multiple 24:00+ performances and closed it with an 11th place finish here and a sub-22 at the MIAC Championship.
Natalie Malczyk – In the spring, she doubles as a sprinter/jumper. 15’4 was good enough to place 2nd at the MIAC Championship.
Tess Tillman – As with Kurth, massive time drops late. 25:00+ at the Clawson Watermelon led to multiple sub-22’s in championship season.