Where: 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: Bronson (11th), Hudson (17th), Hanover-Horton (16th)
2021 Girls: Jackson Lumen Christi (5th), Onsted (20th), Leslie (24th)
In the last regional preview, I asked how to judge regional strength. An example there was the girls (Lansing Catholic, Ithaca, P-W), and how difficult it would be to come home with a championship trophy. The boys race here represents the opposite side of that equation. Hanover-Horton, the traditional power that they are, should be a lock. Four teams (Leslie, Jonesville, Lumen Christi, and Bronson) will be in the battle for two spots.
A metric many use when looking to see who will advance is: who has the strongest 5th runner? This matters less in a smaller race, but more when there are plenty of displacers and runners of similar capabilities. Here, it appears that could be Jonesville and their incoming freshman, Marshall Baker. Marshall ended his middle school year with a few low-12 performances and I’ve found that incoming freshman are able to run 5k at a slightly faster pace than they did 2 miles in the previous year.
It’s a bit of added insurance if you can place four boys in the top-20. Leslie has that capability, also bolstered by a familiarly surnamed freshman, Grason Weber.
Lumen Christi’s got the potential, shown by kids like Nathan Padbury and Gannon Shore, each of which have had superb races at Turkeyville for the I-8 title. If those races are replicated, the Titans odds of advancement will increase.
Have you been there before? Bronson has, and on that stage, they’ve come through. Four of their top-5 runners are seniors. Despite doubts from area rivals, the Vikings advanced out of this region and didn’t stop until they crossed the finish line on their season, placing 11th at State. When the pain comes late in the race, the added confidence of past success can be a major boost.
Lumen Christi’s girls were well on their way to a spot on that podium at MIS when struck by an unfortunate injury. Sydney Fazekas, a sophomore addition to the Titan team, was shut down after Portage. Dreams may have been dashed, but the girls were undaunted, still grabbing a 5th place finish. One can’t help but extrapolate. Sydney had been running near Gabrielle Osterberg for much of the year, had she competed at State in the same fashion, this was a sure top-2 outfit. Fast forward to 2022, Faith Smith moves down the road to Ann Arbor, Macy Fazekas join their ranks, and they’ll be right back in that equation. We’ll see how it begins to shake out in an early throwdown at Michigan Catholic.
In 2020, Leslie’s MS girls won Harriers for Hope, Blackhawk, and the GLAC Championship. Many of those same girls that comprised that group are now on their high school team. Erin Lubahn, Jaidyn Smith, Haley Creisher will be fresh faces to many at the head of the pack.
Onsted’s Wildcats ripped off one amazing track season. Their girls won the LCAA and Region 25, then placed 3rd at D3 State. A team effort too, full of cross country kids filling various roles. Kara Terakedis dropping time across the mid-distances, Alison England grinding across longer distances, Emmry Ross capturing titles in the long sprints, and Allyson Robarge with that short sprint power. They’re all coming together, combining that talent for another run to MIS.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Hanover-Horton (Top 6), Bronson (18th), Jackson Lumen Christi (19th), Jonesville (23rd)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Jackson Lumen Christi (Top 6), Leslie (Top 6), Onsted (20th)
Just a little rundown of those in the top-15 that haven’t been mentioned in the 50 Tickets (Madison, Rogan), the Top Tens (Lumen Christi, Hanover-Horton, Leslie), and aren’t freshmen (you’ll get your day, Brookelyn). 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.
Rhett Reif, Quincy: Twice an All-Stater. Once as a freshman, once as a junior, his junior appearance was his best placing yet, 13th.
Alex Czeiszperger, Hudson: Has a penchant for showing up when it counts. All-State and LCAA champion as a freshman, top honors in both of those as a sophomore.
Ashton Wells, Bronson: Has dropped time in each of his three seasons. His first dip into the 16’s was this past November at State.
Isaiah Dinverno, Jackson Lumen Christi: Freshman year at Lumen Christi featured three sub-18’s.
Cameron Pierce, Leslie: Took a step forward in track, lowering his personal bests in the 800m (2:17 to 2:11) and 1600m (4:57 to 4:46). Given those times, a real candidate to return to his sophomore form come fall.
Nolan Grant, Hillsdale: Although it didn’t come to fruition at Regionals, took a giant step as a sophomore. Of his six races in October, four were sub-18.
Brody Amthor, Onsted: Dude just excels at it all. In his first full season at Onsted, he improved in every event in every venue. Cross, track, 800m to 5k.
Gavin VanKampen, Jonesville: From his freshman to his sophomore year, knocked a minute off his personal best and 23 spots off his regional placing. The result? A trip down the road to MIS.
Gannon Shore, Jackson Lumen Christi: The potential is there, shown by his 10th place finish at I-8. If Gannon finds some consistency, that will help take Lumen Christi to a top-10 outfit.
Aden Hathaway, Bronson: Came through in a big way for Bronson at last fall’s State Meet. 30+ second season best helped the Vikings secure an 11th place finish.
Kyler Pequet, Napoleon: Some may wonder about his inclusion, just take a peek at that track season. Massive drops in everything 800m to 3200m.
Isaac St. John, Hudson: Put it together late in his freshman campaign. Projected 23rd here, finished 16th. Sub-18’s at both LCAA Finals and State Finals.
Kara Terakedis, Onsted: I always say, you have to pay your dues before descending to the next level. Kara paid hers last year with four races under 20:15 but above 20:00, a 51st place finish at MIS. The payoff? A track season where she was LCAA and Lenawee County champ, 10th at State, and knocked 20 seconds off her 1600m best.
Emmry Ross, Onsted: Freshman year contained a sub-20 at Stockbridge, league title, and a freakin’ gold medal at State track. That 400m speed could be crucial in any late race kick.
Chloe Stalhood, Hillsdale: It’s not often that athletes get any lower than their time at Gabriel Richard, but Chloe was able to do so. Her 19:54 at State was a season best, a perfect peak to her initial season.
Sophia Reynolds, Hanover-Horton: Two consecutive top-10 finishes here. Flashed a bit of that speed endurance this past spring with a 2:25 best in the 800m.
Ava Schnell, Hanover-Horton: Began to shine toward the tail end of her track season. Sixth spot at the Cascades Conference 1600m, a shiny new PB of 6:10.
Hope Wilkes, Brooklyn Columbia Central: Three-time top-10 at Regionals, three-time top-5 at LCAA, Hope is a girl who just knows how to get it done when it matters the most.