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. Many of the schools in this region have identifiable feeder schools, but I’ll always miss someone that didn’t run 8th grade XC or add someone that ran 8th grade XC and won’t run in HS. There’s really no other way to do it other than make it a guessing game or to ask every coach individually, which would take years. As always, if you’re reading here, have an upcoming region with an odd case, reach out!
Where: Ella Sharp Park. The home of cross country in the Jackson area. Unless there’s a better setup in the northern part of the State, this is by far the easiest course to spectate. You can see the runners at least seven times, be able to see the start, get to the finish, optimal for the old, slow folks such as myself. Tends to run fair in late September, then a little fast come championship season. Many turns and maneuvering around trees/boulders, but runners are aided by long, gradual downhills.
I love the old-school map carved into the wood at Sharp Park, but this online version will suffice:
2021 Boys: Concord (2nd), Hillsdale Academy (1st), Adrian Lenawee Christian (11th)
2021 Girls: Hillsdale Academy (4th), Adrian Lenawee Christian (12th), Pittsford (17th)
Top 25 Boys: Hillsdale Academy (Top 10), Adrian Lenawee Christian (Top 10)
Top 25 Girls: Hillsdale Academy (Top 10), Pittsford (20th)
(As stated earlier, the shoutouts and anecdotes here will be anyone in the Top 15 isn’t on a top 10 team. Top incoming freshmen will get their due at the end of summer or throughout their career 🙂 )
Tyler Bays – Twice has saved his best performances for the end of the fall season, Tyler has been All-State the past two years. Track took a different turn this past spring, where he won over 50% of his races, including a victory in the 800m at State. Competitors will be looking at the back of that iconic Nike/Hoka hat all season.
Kade Spahr – 3x State Qualifier here, each of which he finished in the top-10. Had his best track season yet, knocking 25+ seconds off his previous best in the 1600m and nearly hit 20’ in the long jump.
Evan Suydam – I shouldn’t have been surprised given how his 2020 season ended, but what a race at State last November. 24th place, 17:07, a level he hadn’t reached until months earlier at the Huron Invite. That championship success carried over into track where he was able to gruel out a 10:25 3200m at State, good for a 6 sec. PB and 14th place finish.
Bryson Bachelder – Junior year started in the 20’s, ended in the 17’s and a second consecutive State Meet appearance.
Michael Allen – Here on account of a track season where he ran 2:16/4:55/10:39 and placed in both the 1600m and 3200m in the Cascades Conference
Caleb Diener – Many consistent 3200m’s this spring for Caleb. He didn’t attain any marks in the 10’s, but but continually knocked on the door with four races between 11:00 and 11:10.
Reece Poole – Freshman year contained a 15th place finish at SCAA and 18:57 at Jackson.
Izzy Brooks – Showed a fearlessness beyond her years, nabbing the Lenawee County crown in cross and All-States in both track and cross.
Ava Mallar – Inaugural HS season featured two sub-20’s, the latter of which resulting in a 12th place finish in Brooklyn.
Brooke Smith – Brooke has a penchant for showing up at the end of the year and that characteristic was on display in track, where she ran a 20+ second personal best to finish 10th in D4’s 3200m.
Stephanie Hernandez – To knock more than 4 minutes off one’s time is simply amazing, Stephanie did that en route to 7th place regional finish and 55th spot at State.
Neili Pike – Big time track season, especially in the 800m, where she finished 5th in D4, running 2:24. 1600m not too bad either, a 5:40. If that translates to cross, All-State easily within reach.
Riley McCumber – Displayed some serious reliability as a freshman, a steady 3rd girl was needed if Pittsford were to have postseason success. They qualified largely because of Riley’s reliable efforts in the 22’s.
Priya Mericle – Freshman year in both track and cross ended with great motivation for the next year. This spring, three efforts between 6:00 and 6:10, last fall, a personal best at the Speedway.
Taylor Lautermilch – Recovered from a 28:00+ opener to have a solid freshman year featuring 11th places at both SCAA and here at this region.