Where: South Christian HS
South Christian has graciously hosted many meets, including four from last year. We had Under the Lights in late August, running slow as early races are known to do. The final OK White Jamboree is a great example, many of those teams in Division 1 or 2, including a certain East Grand Rapids outfit that will be here. Altogether, those races rated as +6, so we’ll assume this is a fair course.
2021 Boys: Otsego (1st), Three Rivers (26th), Holland Christian (23rd)
2021 Girls: Otsego (5th), Zeeland East (14th), Holland Christian (26th)
Another regional example of the shifting puzzle pieces. This map nerd would either love the job of sitting in the regional assignment room or dread the geographical challenges. Otsego is down to the previously posted Region 13, Zeeland East and Holland Christian to Region 11, moving west are East Grand Rapids and West Michigan Aviation, Marshall coming a bit more north, heck even our host was somewhere else.
Some of the coaches come from elsewhere. East Grand Rapids’ Drew Collette is the Matt Barnes/Lou Williams/Jamal Crawford of Michigan XC coaches. Those three haven’t won a title, Drew, if everything goes to plan, has a very real shot of making that happen. If one extrapolates his past and pegs it into the future, imagine a guy who can turn a program around in short order combined with the massive talent that East Grand Rapids produces. Your mind may explode.
On the other hand, Forest Hills Eastern grows in the shadows of giants such as EGR and Grand Rapids Christian. Quietly, the Hawks have assembled another team capable of finishing in Division 2’s top-5. After all, they’ve placed there in two of the past three years. Those recent high placings have affected their entire program, with multiple boys coming out from under the woodwork, hitting mileage goals over the summer. Oh, and you may have heard of Aiden Sullivan, that headband wearin’ speed demon.
Top 25 Boys Teams: East Grand Rapids (Top 5), Forest Hills Eastern (19th), Marshall (23rd)
Top 25 Girls Teams: East Grand Rapids (Top 5), Forest Hills Eastern (Top 5), GR West Michigan Aviation (13th), Grand Rapids South Christian (21st)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Lynn twynns), in the 50 Tickets (Aiden, Drew, Emma), or on Top 10 teams (EGR, FHE, EGR). 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.
Caleb Boes, Grand Rapids South Christian: For whatever reason, Caleb wasn’t listed in the first edition of this post. I’m not sure why he wasn’t included in the original sheet. There were a few errors with grades and kids not getting included, but it’s not that… whatever. Only one more week until I throw away this summer stuff and start anew.
ANYHOW, as Lucas VanDam correctly pointed out, he’s rated and ranked right next to Joseph VanderKooi. His personal best hails from this regional race, over in Region 13, but a grand stage nonetheless. Ranked 11th going into that race, he placed 5th, then turned that momentum into a track season where he debuted in the 1600m at 4:39 and set a significant PB in the 3200m at 10:02.
Joseph VanderKooi, Grand Rapids South Christian: Joseph ran his first regional race as a junior. His freshman year, he didn’t make South Christian’s varsity squad for the race. His sophomore year, he finished 22nd at Pre-Regionals. His junior year, he was 10th in the whole dang thing. Two minute improvement from 2020 to 2021.
Jacob Montgomery, Ionia: Over in the rain-soaked hills of the St. Francis Retreat Center, Jacob outperformed his regional projections by 6 places, helping Ionia graduate to run another week. Many of his teammates have moved on, but Jacob will still be out there battling.
Jack Bidwell, Marshall: Jack just comes through at I-8 Championship meets. 4:34 to close out his 1600m races in track, grabbing a 4th place in his conference.
Dominic Lowrie, Battle Creek Harper Creek: Another freshman that’s flying under the radar. Dominic was sub-17 in his final four races.
Jack DeVries, GR West Michigan Aviation: Whereas others may have dropped significant time on the grass, Jack came through on the cinders. In only his second 3200m of the year, he ran 10:18, a good minute faster compared to 2021.
Riley Shults, Hastings: Used the disappointment of not qualifying for State to fuel him for a Barry County title. Any time you can win an area championship, that’s a major win in my book.
Aidan McPartlin, Marshall: Beginning in the sport as a freshman, Aidan was sub-18 once. A year later, sub-18 in the majority of his races.
Ava Crews, Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg: After September 13th, she only raced once above the 20:00 barrier. That was a Barry County victory, somewhat excusable. When she wasn’t capturing county titles, she was nearly reaching the podium at MIS or placing top-5 at both regionals and OK Gold.
Camille DeCola, Marshall: Hit November on a roll and just kept going. Hit a 19-flat on the notoriously quick Turkeyville course, even more impressively, hit that same mark on a slower MIS track. That State Finals time? Only good enough for 14th place. Yes, she is lower than what her state meet suggests. These ratings take into account the entirety of the 2021 season, championship warriors such as Camille tend to get underrated.
Olivia Barabas, Wayland Union: All three years running in HS, she’s been in the 19’s. Her first two, those performances would happen late, as a junior, she was impatient and sped to that mark early. Top-10 in the OK Gold, 7th over in Region 13, and her best State Finals finish yet.