Where: Hess Hathaway
Curiously ran a bit fast for OAA White, but for the other three meets last year, was a consistent -30. There’s a constant stream of hills, two major ones at 600m and halfway are eye-popping, but don’t ignore the gradual rise after the 2-mile mark. The first two are one called the Beautiful Lady, the last one doesn’t have a name, but will separate qualifiers from souls leaving their body. We have a course map and Jacob Tanner’s elevation maps (check them out):
2021 Boys: Pinckney (5th), Linden (7th), Cranbrook-Kingswood (28th)
2021 Girls: Goodrich (10th), Bloomfield Hills Marian (27th), Pinckney (22nd)
Taking a look back at last year’s Summer Preview through Regional Preview, you see a certain team moving up. Running through the beautiful Cranbrook community was a team that slowly worked their way up the ranks. Solomon Kwartowitz was the obvious example, subtracting minutes from his previous best impacts a little at the front. But a greater impact is found in the middle of the pack with kids such as Yija Shan and Bretton Fischer achieving sub-19 when they hadn’t been close to that mark in 2020. And I can’t forget Michael Atsuya coming in clutch, clinching the Cranes state meet bid.
They’ll likely be going up against Goodrich (Pinckney and Linden are just so great and deep) for that third spot. Goodrich is young, consistently bolstered by their great MS program. The Martians move up two 8th graders that broke 12:00 in pretty much all of their races, tough courses such as Holly included. As with freshman, that could go two ways, a guy like me always hopes for the best and projects the middle. I think they’ll be in the mix for a state qualifying spot as individuals, which will set up one of the better team qualifying battles.
Goodrich’s girls are more than bolstered by their middle school squad. They’ve established one of the better programs in the state and they’re just young, filled to the brim with potential. We saw the beginnings of that in November, where a squad comprised of freshman and sophomores finished 10th in Division 2. Now you add the Dunn sisters, integral members of a MS team that won titles at Holly, Zone 4, Flint Area (
beating dominating Division 1 teams). I’m not saying it’ll happen, but this might be the most serious threat since Petoskey to put a halt into East Grand Rapids’ dominance.
Top 25 Boys: Pinckney (Top 5), Linden (8th)
Top 25 Girls: Goodrich (Top 5)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Goodrich boys), in the 50 Tickets (Solomon and Kyle), or on Top 10 teams (wow, Pinckney, Goodrich, and Linden are loaded). Want to spread love but also not overwork myself. All in all, my estimation is through all these previews, I’ll be writing at least a sentence about 1000+ kids.
Nolan Pinion, Lake Fenton: October brought about a new person. Four of his final races were in the 16’s (and let’s be honest, his 18:06 here was equivalent to a sub-17). Nolan wasn’t stopped there, breaking 10:00 in track.
Wade Robinson, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep: Caught my eye in 2020 as a freshman when he ran with the Stoney boys for much of their dual. He’s accomplished so much since, twice top-30 in Oakland County, two top-10’s here in Region 16.
Cooper Grzeskowiak, Goodrich: Could be leading a young Goodrich squad to an appearance in November. With his great experience here, crossing the tape in 8th after being projected 12th, the young Martians will have great inspiration to follow.
Nik Shilling, Ortonville Brandon: Seriously established himself as an 800m this past spring, capturing 12th place in Oakland County with a time of 2:01.
Zoe Hoke, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep: 5:18 in the 1600m as a freshman gave us wonder as to what Zoe could do on the grass. She more than proved herself this past fall, breaking 20:00 three times, the last of which, a personal best at State.
Cecelia Thorington, Pinckney: Didn’t capture the regional crown as she did in 2020, but grabbed an SEC White trophy instead. Furthered her progression in the 800m this past spring, lowering her best to 2:26.
Abby Walton, Bloomfield Hills Marian: Her 19:58 at State after a season in the high-20’s and 21’s gives a hint to her potential. Another season learning from Coach Pratt could bring out her full potential.
Sophie Endrud, Detroit Country Day: Three-time runner up here. Is perennially underrated but always brings it at the end of the season. Especially in 2020, where she placed 12th at D2 State.
Maria Nunning, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep: Once October rolled around, this freshman hit her stride. 20:15 at Gabriel Richard, 20:04 at Northern Michigan, 9th place here.
Zaryah Griffin, Pinckney: Has qualified for State each of the past two years, and in each of those years, has narrowly missed sub-20. Is this the breakthrough year?
Brigit Foley, Wixom St. Catherine: Her late season ascent is where it’s at. After hovering above 21:00 for much of the season, she busted out a 20:06 at State.
Ava Fahrenkopf, Linden: Knocked almost 2:00 off her freshman best, but most important of all, got to compete on the Eagles team at MIS.