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: Portage West MS
A course that needs to handle the biggest meet in the state. Wide turns, runner-friendly, spectator friendly. One hill, early and little over half way, fairly flat the rest of the way. Tended to run a little fast last year and compared to previous years at the same course. All in all, a fair test. The ever helpful, wearer of many hats, major reason the sport in Michigan is prioritized the way it is, Dan Wytko sent me this map of the course:
2021 Boys: Kalamazoo Christian (3rd), Battle Creek St. Philip (20th), Eau Claire (26th)
2021 Girls: Kalamazoo Christian (2nd), Battle Creek St. Philip (18th), Mendon (24th)
Top 25 Boys Teams: Battle Creek St. Philip (15th), Concord (17th), Mendon (25th)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Kalamazoo Hackett (9th)
Just a little rundown of those in the top-15 that haven’t been mentioned in the 50 Tickets (Presley), the Top Tens (Kalamazoo Hackett), and aren’t freshmen. Many of these are just scouring athleticnet (note – if you have a kid you want to brag about, reach out, tell me their story), but it’s more attention paid than many publications, it helps me learn names, and most of all – GETS ATTENTION TOWARDS KIDS THAT DESERVE IT.
Adair Artis, Concord: Trip to the State Finals was his first as a freshman and he made the most of it, finishing 22nd and hitting a personal best. Adair made a huge jump in the 400m this spring, down into the 52’s, good enough for 8th at State.
Luke Sprague, Battle Creek St. Philip: Two time All-Region here, finished 11th as a freshman, 2nd as a sophomore. Does he improve one more spot?
Isaac Waldron, Concord: The Yellowjackets made a real run at the D4 title last fall, athletes such as Isaac an aid along the way. After barely scraping under 19:00 as a sophomore, he was on the brink of breaking 18:00 as a junior.
Max Shugars, Battle Creek St. Philip: Placed 25th here in 2020, 7th in 2021.
Dart Avery, Decatur: Unfortunately, didn’t get to compete at Regionals, but was on track to be in the mix. 18:37 at Otsego Bulldog showed he can hit the time, as did a 5:08 1600m during track.
Ryan Casterline, Battle Creek St. Philip: One of three juniors poised to lead the Tigers in the 2022 season. Came on late last autumn, hitting season bests in each of his final three races.
Gavin Sehy, Kalamazoo Hackett: Although his final two championship races weren’t quite the times he had attained earlier in the year, they seem to have spurred a solid spring. 5:11/11:31 makes one believe a season primarily in the 18’s is in order.
Tucker Lafler, Colon: Has competed at MIS twice in his career, crossing the line in 62nd as a sophomore.
Ryan Dehaan, Climax-Scotts: A decent component of these previews are what one accomplished during track, recent achievements should carry over to the fall. The 800m isn’t the closest comparison to a 5k, but Ryan was able to run 2:16 and place 6th at the SCAA Championship.
Quinton Tone, Marcellus: 20:48 season best in cross, 2:16/5:06 in track. I’d really love to catch of glimpse of Quinton’s winter training!
Addie Curtis, Marcellus: Two years of cross country, two state qualifiers, two season bests under 22:00.
Dani VanLente, Tekonsha: One has to love her move up the leaderboards at various meets. 13th in Calhoun County in 2020, 5th last October. Non-qualifier as a freshman, 3rd spot as a junior.
Macey Burgess, Colon: This Magi girl has been… magical? I’m sorry, had to make that pun at some point. As with Curtis, has been under 22:00 in her two seasons.
Carissa Shedd, Tekonsha: 14:29 to close her spring season points toward great improvement from her 25:00+ cross country times.
Mimi Hibbard, Battle Creek St. Philip: Has been a player in St. Philip squads that have made noise at MIS the past two years. That positive championship experience will serve her well come October.
Riley Adams, Concord: Improved her place at the regional level from 32nd to 22nd, but it wasn’t enough to qualify. Region 32 *should* be easier than 34 was on the Concord ladies, can it be enough for Riley?
Caitlin Wright, Concord: With sophomores such as Caitlin donning the purple and yellow, Concord’s chances as a team making it increase. From September 1st to November 6th, knocked 7:00 off her best time and nabbed the final qualifying spot at Region 34.