Where: Willow Metropark.
A young MIXCSR’s favorite course, it still ranks up there. Two 2400m-ish loops, the final bit a downhill finish. Steep sledding hill before a mile and just after two, other than that, fairly flat. Unless it’s been raining, the footing is great, among the best you’ll get. Has a tendency to run fast in the late season, usually about 10-20 seconds so. About as fair a test as one will get south of Detroit.
I’m a sucker for hand-drawn maps:
2021 Boys: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (10th), Stockbridge (13th), Erie-Mason (14th)
2021 Girls: Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (8th), Clinton (21st), Monroe St. Mary CC (25th)
Last year, this was shaping up to be one of the better boys regionals not only in Division 3, but throughout all divisions. I had five teams separated by less than 20 points, each team having an argument and a reason why they could advance. But I didn’t anticipate Erie-Mason sneaking their way in. Their inclusion was formulated early and while an observer such as myself was sure they’d fade, that didn’t occur. I wrote here that I was impressed by the entire team, but looking back, you gotta point to a kid such as Austin Sulier, who smashed his typical performance throughout the season (high-19’s – low 20’s), crossing the line in 18:49, his ascent into the 4th spot on the Eagles squad helping them gain another week of team training.
Stockbridge moves over to Region 26, Gabriel Richard up and over to Division 2, and into those slots you should see Manchester and Clinton. Clinton could have one of the better fifth runners in the field, the Kippnick trio will team up on the courses for the last time this fall. Those Kippnicks could have a freshman join, Grant Johnson, with potential to run in the 17’s and that potential leading to a potential regional title.
Just as Division 4, incoming 9th graders will have an impact on the regional standings. Individually, Bella LaFountain can be a major lift for the Kestrels (great nickname). Without her, they’re on the outside looking in. With her, a candidate to compete for a team trophy. On the other hand, Blissfield could be loaded with freshmen girls. During the 2021 Middle School season, the Blissfield girls had 4 girls sub-15 for the 2 mile distance and finished 3rd in MHSAA’s Zone 2, where they beat traditional powers such as Adrian, Bedford, and Chelsea. Obviously the talent is there, but do they all run cross? Always the important question. Between those two schools is a constant – Clinton, an upperclasswomen laden team that showed up in another competitive region last year.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Manchester (14th), Clinton (20th)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Monroe St. Mary CC (12th), Clinton (14th), Blissfield (16th)
Just a little rundown of those in the top-15 that haven’t been mentioned in the 50 Tickets (Eliza Bush), the Top Tens, and aren’t freshmen (you’ll get your day, Bella and Hope). 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.
Jackson Ansel, Erie Mason: As mentioned earlier, his victory was essential in the Erie Mason regional upset. That victory then paved the way for a track season where he finished 4th in D3 in the 800m.
Nathan Kippnick, Manchester: All that hard work began its payoff this spring, where Nathan dropped 13 seconds from his previous 1600m best.
Simon VanderVlucht, Monroe St. Mary CC: In his two high school seasons, he’s finished top-10 at regionals both times.
Keegan Masters, Ottawa Lake-Whiteford: Showcased a great deal of range during track, from 2:11 to 4:38 to 10:18.
Caiden Kippnick, Manchester: Seventh placing at Hudson Mills last year was his first State Qualifier.
Dylan Tengler, Ida: Consider that he finished 27th in 2020’s PRE-Regional when you notice that he placed 15th in 2021’s real regional.
Elliott Rodgers, Ottawa Lake-Whiteford: Included in here largely because of this past spring, where Elliott nabbed 3rd in both the 1600m and 3200m at the TCC Final.
Lincoln Cha, Ann Arbor Greenhills: In the final two meets of the spring, snuck under 5:00 and 11:00 in the 1600m and 3200m respectively.
Lucas Goodman, Clinton: One of the leaders of the Redwolves pack, his consistency will be valuable in 2022. This past fall, a steady force in the mid-18’s.
Max Hampel, Clinton: Only two races in 2021 before his season was cut short, both below 19:00.
Zack Gillies, Clinton: Understand that the woods at the North Course at Hudson Mills were a muddy mess and you’ll understand that his personal best on that day was super impressive.
Parker Campbell, Erie Mason: MITCA Team State provided an opportunity and that opportunity was taken with a sub-11.
Zander Stormont, Grass Lake: Freshman season consisted of three sub-19:00 efforts.
Ava Viegelahn, Grass Lake: Experienced state success in cross and track as an underclassman, now it’s her turn to lead Grass Lake towards that as an upperclassman. She’s been top-10 at Regionals each of the past two years and is well-set to repeat that feat.
Allison Bowles, Clinton: 21:36 at the LCAA League Meet paved the way for a tremendous last two weeks. 16th at Regionals helped Clinton qualify for MIS, each of those meets she was able to run 21:39.
Allie Koch, Manchester: A top-5 finisher at both Cascades Conference and Regionals in each of her three seasons, a remarkable accomplishment as time passes and runners come and go.
Mari Cueto, Blissfield: 2021 cross season was a comeback campaign, qualifying for State after her previous crusade was ended in September.
Samantha Coots, Clinton: Mentioned last year as a runner of the meet, her regional effort propelled her to two more sub-21’s and a track season where she worked on her speed (64.5, 2:39).
Cylee Elkins, Clinton: Cylee’s personal best was 25:00+ in August, 21:30+ in September, then 20:18 at the end of the year.
Katelyn Bydlowski, Ida: I sense an endurance boss over here. Nothing spectacular, but Katelyn was a solid 13:00 performer in the 3200m during track.
Abby Lechy, Monroe St. Mary CC: Freshman year included many races in the 21’s and a regional day where she placed 9th (was projected 12th).
Anika Bery, Ann Arbor Greenhills: Darkhorse to slither her way into the top pack here, just based on a springtime where she broke 6:00 and 13:00.
Madison Basham, Grass Lake: Began to crank it up a notch come late May, where she placed 5th in the Cascades 800m and then ran a 5 second PB at the Selby Classic.