Where: Shepherd HS
Word on the street is they’re building fiber throughout the course. Live splits at the mile and 2 mile without having to send Coach Wyatt out there sprinting to grab splits at each spot.
Mostly flat with a slight rise near the 2-mile mark. Tends to run fast, but can get bogged down with precipitation. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Bluejays installed a drying system under the course in the future.
2021 Boys: Freeland (10th), Flint Powers Catholic (18th), Clio (21st)
2021 Girls: Freeland (7th), Shepherd (12th), Alma (23rd)
Freeland will be a tough out, but Shepherd might have the goods to do it. Carley Lynch is back after a sickness took hold of her junior year. As a sophomore, she ran 20:54 here to close the year, and if you project her sophomore ratings into the algorithm, the line between the Falcons and Bluejays becomes very thin. It becomes thinner when they’re adding more girls from their state-placing 4×4. But lurking out there is the Lebron transformation. Alma has always had runners, but to me, they’re a sleeping giant in Division 2. College town, one of the bigger communities in the area. We’ve seen what he’s done at Ithaca, now with more kids coming into his hands?
Back to Freeland though. Upperclassmen such as Paige Kloha and Bella Reed, experienced at being the all-important 4th-5th runners. Freshman who will come along and be raring to go by the end of the year. Their top-5 will be tough to crack, it’s very likely they can put all of them in the top-15.
The boys freshman class at Alma is an example of what I was referring to earlier. Larson, Baltierra, Luca Lebron all led their MS team to a TVC championship and a silver medal at MHSAA Zone 5. Unlike lower divisions, the immediate impact isn’t felt so hard by incoming freshman. Will these young Panthers buck that trend? Or will another team loaded with potential, a young Gladwin team steal a bid? One thing I will predict that we can count on: that Flint Powers will solidly perform above expectations. Each and every year, they turn 19:00 kids into 18:00 kids, 17:30 kids into 16:45 kids. And the Chargers are loaded with those sorts yet again.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Freeland (12th), Flint Powers Catholic (22nd)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Freeland (10th), Shepherd (17th), Alma (22nd)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Bryce Gross, I see you), in the 50 Tickets (Mary Richmond, your day is coming, TJ and Braydon’s days already have), or on Top 10 teams (Freeland girls). 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.
Caleb Palmreuter, Gladwin: After a shortened freshman season, completed a full sophomore season. Made the most of it come November with a 16:42 personal best attained at State. Had an exceptional track season, qualifying for State in the 1600m and slipping under 2:00 in the 800m.
Elliott Sirianni, Clio: Came in here last October ranked 13th, left the course finishing 7th. A breakout performance, his first journey under 17:00.
David Murphy, Flint Powers Catholic: Spent all of his freshman year above 18:00, a year later, spent every last stinkin’ race under 18:00. Expect further gains, evidenced by his 10:01 in the 3200m this past spring.
Braden Klein, Freeland: Getting under 17:00 for the fourth time, he was an important member of the Falcons’ 10th place State Finals appearance.
Tyler Heath, Clio: Placed 4th at MITS in the 800m, but didn’t have the outdoor season he was looking for. In June, began to hit the times he’s capable of and I’m confident that positive momentum will carry over to these upcoming months.
Bryce Husen, Birch Run: His 1600m races at Region 20 and TVC-8 are what dreams are made of. Both were at least 10 seconds better than his previous best, both placed top-5.
Seth Mead, Gladwin: One of the better freshman years you’ve ever heard of. Dropped under 17:00 at Northern Michigan, qualified for State out of Region 10. Shepherd is a bit easier than that nasty Chip Hills course so expect even better theatrics.
Ali Kudmani, Alma: Someone has to play the role of upperclass leader to the volumes of youngsters Alma is moving in. Ali will set a great example, a steady performer who’s stepped up as a state qualifier when it counts.
Aidan Lobsinger, Flint Powers Catholic: As a sophomore, Aidan wasn’t even a part of Powers’ varsity squad in championship season. As a junior, the important 5th man.
Nolan Longuski, Shepherd: Next in the line of Cahoon-built grinders? As a freshman, dropped 17’s on three occasions, the most important of which was here.
Owen Fennelly, Saginaw Swan Valley: Owen’s cross times and ratings leave him off this list. His track times affirmatively place him on. 10:28 to close a spring full of quality performances in the 3200m.
Ariel Warner, Shepherd: Based on the marks (2:19/5:13) from her spring track campaign, primed for an excellent senior season. Perhaps a darkhorse candidate to bust into that top-10 at State?
Ezgi Kurt, Alma: Interspersed with many efforts in the 20’s, there were signs. A 19:16 at Scottie, a 19:26 at State. During May, Ezgi was able to find a bit more steadiness, running 2:30’s and 5:30’s meet after meet.
Jolie Fisher, Shepherd: This speedster has so much range. Has been in the low-20’s each of the past two years, has also clinched an All-State and a State title with her clutch 3rd leg on the 4×4.
Ava Boggs, Flint Kearsley: When she’s on, she’s really on. And she was on at the tail end of the ’21 season. Personal bests at both Regional and State.
Elle Himebaugh, Shepherd: Don’t let her incredible showing at the Isabella County Fair distract you from the fact that she’s dropped 4(!) minutes from her personal best over the course of her career.
Alexcis Parker, Flint Powers Catholic: All-State honorable mention on the hardwood, sub-21 performer on the cross country course. No doubt this great sport gives her endurance for her tenacity come winter.
Aubrey Keeler, Clio: Each year, she starts a little slow but finishes with a fury. Two straight state qualifiers and on the cusp of grasping the 19’s.
Jenna Overla, Alma: Mega consistent performer for Alma’s state qualifying squad. Her final four meets were all between 21:00 and 21:30.