Where: DeWitt HS
This guy usually runs pretty fast. I had it at +8 for the DeWitt Invite this past fall, +4 on average for Regionals in 2020. I don’t know too much about it!
2021 Boys: St. Johns (3rd), Ionia (19th), East Grand Rapids (8th)
2021 Girls: East Grand Rapids (1st), Forest Hills Eastern (4th), Williamston (17th)
Typically, I’m critical of how the regions are setup. Schools from every which way composing a “region” is the exact opposite meaning of the word region. Region 14, this version, exemplifies the true definition of a region. Save for Parma Western and Jackson Northwest, all schools are from a similar area with similar challenges and similar advantages. Out are East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills Eastern, and West Michigan Aviation. In comes DeWitt, Mason, and Olivet. Regional representation!
With new faces come new qualifiers and opportunities for teams to step up. DeWitt, moving down into Division 2, will immediately feel the impact of being a big fish in a smaller pond. Whereas having teams capable of putting five boys under 17:45 or seven girls sub-21:30 placed them in the middle of the pack in Region 4’s highly competitive landscape, Division 2 is a bit more kind.
Of course, you have your mainstays, your holdovers from last year. The boys from St. Johns went on an October renaissance, largely aided by Tyler Dohm, Isaac Staib, and Joey Bowman. And behold, they’re all back.
West Michigan Aviation was a team on a similar rise last fall, but shockingly, Williamston put an end to that. Tamara Stoner-Sleight was the key for the Hornets, placing 10+ spots better than her projection, and as the ratings go, running at least 30 seconds better than she did in the previous month.
It appears the chaotic nature of that girls regional will again appear, both in the chase for the trophy and the chase for a State qualifier. DeWitt looks to be a bit top-heavier, Williamston more solid through all their spots. The battle between St. Johns and Owosso will take on the traditional form of who has the better 5th girl.
For the boys, three teams, all exhibiting different characteristics. DeWitt will have seven (and maybe more beyond their varsity) capable of being in the 17’s. St. Johns will have the firepower up front, can they find a fifth man? And Mason may be the strongest through five, exhibiting both the strength near the top, but the soundness toward the middle of the pack.
Top 25 Boys Teams: St. Johns (16th), DeWitt (18th), Mason (25th)
Top 25 Girls Teams: DeWitt (8th), Williamston (9th), St. Johns (12th), Owosso (16th)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Sydney Ferguson, I see you), in the 50 Tickets (Meghan, Joey), or on Top 10 teams (DeWitt, Williamston). 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. Also, it’s late at night and I’m tiiiiired. If there’s an error in here, let me know.
Camden Johnecheck, Williamston: Narrowly missed a spot on the 50 tickets, but he showed he’s plenty speedy with a 15:57 at Stockbridge. Placed 6th here, matching his spot from 2020.
Nate Carmody, Haslett: Tremendous improvement from his freshman to sophomore years. Nate first jetted under 17:00 at Marauder, he closed his season with a 16:57 in Brooklyn too.
Koda Brandt, Charlotte: Pure point getter at the CAAC White Championships on the track. Tripled in the three individual distance events, walked out of each with a contribution for his Oriole team.
Nolan Inglis, DeWitt: His time to shine is coming, and it’s coming fast. Big ol’ 16:21 this past November, the fastest of any freshman in Division 1.
Alex Doneth, Mason: As a youthful freshman, the 2nd man on a Bulldog team that nabbed a 13th place at State Finals. As Landon Buskirk graduates, it’s now Alex’s time to grab the reins.
Logan Roka, Corunna: Much to prove after a disappointing race in this race in 2021. Track season indicates he put that behind him, his 4:30 in the 1600m showing the necessary grit to come through in late October.
Tyler Dohm, St. Johns: 20:18 to 18:46 to 16:54. Not much else that needs to be said. If the trend holds, is sub-16 in sight?
Lucas Hopkins, Olivet: This region is so full of youngsters that a guy such as Lucas seems like a wise elder. That sophomore wisdom surely helped when he captured a victory in the GLAC Championship last October.
Brett Marschall, Fowlerville: Was 49th here as a freshman, 10th and 12th the past two years. Personal bests in the 1600m and 3200m during April and May give evidence of possible progress from those spots.
Isaac Staib, St. Johns: Quarter miler come track, MIS master at cross country. His 16:58 was a season’s best by over 30 seconds.
James Meninga, Mason: Showed gradual progress throughout the year, his XC season culminating in a 17:36 at State. But track is where the real hay was made, his 4:35 placing 5th in the CAAC Red.
Brennan McKone, DeWitt: One of those DeWitt kids poised to help lead his team to Regional greatness. Only ran that 1600m once this spring, but it was a doozy, half a minute better than his freshman best.
Austin Rybolt, Eaton Rapids: Just a few races on his track calendar, but the last of them capped his best spring yet. A 4:47 in the CAAC White 1600m was a season best and 12 second improvement from his sophomore year.
Kenny Evans, Corunna: I’m having a hard time deciding which time drop is more impressive: the 5:32 to 4:48 or the 11:39 to 10:38. No matter the answer, each led to a medal at the FML Championship.
Clara Fletcher, St. Johns: Absolutely crushed it at State Finals, her 19:06 a 35+ second personal best. The result of that massive breakthrough? Her first of what looks to be a few All-States.
Josie Jenkinson, Owosso: Racked up the honors in her debut season. Shiawassee County champion, Top-5 finish in the FML, and the 5th girl here.
Lauren Hunter, Haslett: The bumpier the road, the sweeter the destination. Her first XC season in two years ended in the same fashion as her freshman year. At a race track, breaking 20:00, proving she belongs with the upper echelon of Division 2 girls.
Libby Summerland, Owosso: This long sprinter on the track found success on the grass last fall. After spending her entire freshman year above 21:00, she was well-established in the 20’s as a sophomore. State qualifier in the 400m as well.
Julionna West, Owosso: Julionna began to find a rhythm come late September, grinding out a PB at Ortonville-Brandon’s FML Jamboree. From then on, her freshman year flowed, all the way down to a 20:17 at Shiawassee County.
Sydney Thompson, Eaton Rapids: Great familiarity with this course and this setting, Sydney grabbed 10th here two years ago.