Where: Chippewa Hills HS
Actually, across the street from Chippewa Hills, in the rolling pastures and blowdozed woods. Compared to many courses in mid-Michigan, this is undulating terrain and that’s’ a GOOD THING. Cross Country should be a test and the speed bumps and turns make it so. Anyway, here’s their course video:
2021 Boys: Petoskey (9th), Fremont (11th), Sparta (14th)
2021 Girls: Petoskey (3rd), Cadillac (24th), Remus Chippewa Hills (13th)
Well, year to year consistency might be the theme here. It’s appearing like five of the six qualifiers are heavy favorites to move on, but who will grab that sixth spot?
Ludington’s girls *just* missed out last year as the Chippewa Hills girls had the race of their season. But when I say they missed, I don’t mean they had a disappointing day, just that the Orioles surprised and someone else surprised more. Oftentimes, that’s a great motivating tool for a runner. Attain success but it’s not enough. Gain confidence, but know you must run your butt off in the off-season.
Although the boys team qualifiers appear to be a level above the rest of the field, an intriguing battle for first could be on the horizon. Shane Izzard through Carter McIlroy, each of these boys finished in the top-12 last year and are the top returners (that haven’t moved divisions or regions). Richmond, Janesak, and McIlroy each ran nearly identical times in the 3200m, Izzard concentrated more on the 800m, and Nixon was on a trajectory to run the best 1600m of the bunch. Can Owen Metzger join them? As an 8th grader, he doesn’t lose a single race during the XC season, then nabbed a 10:23 in track, the 5th best time of any middle schooler.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Petoskey (10th), Sparta (11th), Fremont (14th)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Petoskey (6th), Ludington (19th), Cadillac (20th)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Owen, Linnea), in the 50 Tickets, or on Top 10 teams (Petoskey and Petoskey). 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. If there’s an error in here, let me know.
Nolan Nixon, Cadillac: Spent a few days with Nolan in Oregon this summer and came away impressed with his quiet demeanor and workman-like attitude. After a season primarily spent in the 17’s, he busted out a 16:38 to close at State. Looked to be upon that same path in track after his 2:08/4:33 at Shepherd, but his season was prematurely ended. When the season begins, he should be ready to roll and come late October, he’ll be challenging for this win.
Gregory Janesak, Sparta: Gregory had a disappointing close to his freshman year, he made sure that didn’t happen twice. He helped the Spartans qualify for MIS with his 11th place finish here. Exhibited some serious strength during track with his 9:54 3200m at Metro Health.
Andre Richmond, Whitehall: Between his freshman and sophomore years, Andre raced 18 times. In those 18 races, he broke 20:00 twice. He finished the 2021 season with a personal best of 16:56. All the 20:00+ kids out there reading this, take note and dream big.
Carter McIlroy, Whitehall: The constant transformation is a theme with the Whitehall boys. After being above 18:00 for his sophomore year, Carter smashed the 17:00 mark in his final junior effort. Never one to be satisfied, he reached a new level in track with his 4:33/9:58. We could very well have five athletes in the low-16’s, if not lower.
John Christensen, Fremont: This running man finished 26th here, but rebounded with a 17:17 at State, helping his Packers secure an 11th place finish.
Cole Lowery, Fremont: Grinding through difficult and adverse conditions at Baker Woods and Branstrom Park made this freshman a tough cookie. Closed his championship season with three of his final four races in the 17’s.
Brodie Delamater, Grant: Brodie’s 3200m races this spring grab my attention as someone who will reliably be a top-15 contender. Six sub-11’s when his freshman best was 11:13.
Noah Momber, Sparta: Reliability was a necessary factor in Sparta’s 2021 season. Noah was a guy you could rely on to run in the mid-17’s, hitting between 17:25 and 17:40 in six of his final seven meets.
Emma Janesak, Sparta: Emma didn’t run the 1600m much during track, but she sure was able to find a quick one late. Her 5:23 there lends evidence to what could be a solid improvement come fall.
Cami Kraai, Whitehall: If I ever did a sleeper list, Cami would be on it. Ran just two races during her freshman year, both in the early season, both in the 20’s. Completed a full track season, mastered that speed endurance with a 2:23 in the 800m.
Remington Arney, Newaygo: Nothing like a good ole 180 place improvement at State. Remington wasn’t even close to a top-50 spot in my projections, she shattered those with her 19:38 and 41st place.
Summer Brower, Ludington: Crossed the line here four spots ahead of her projections, running a personal best in the process. That personal best was struck down the following week with her 19:38 at State, the 7th fastest freshman girl in Division 2 that day.
Nadia Grierson, Ludington: Began to find herself during this past track campaign. Competed at her highest levels at the far end of the season. At the West Michigan Track Invite, doubled with a 5:36/12:07.
Madyson Oudbier, Sparta: Twice a state qualifier, twice a top-100 finisher at MIS.
Regan Hill, Cadillac: After mono put a damper on her sophomore year, she returned to her freshman form. This year, she’s looking to push past that, entering the season having underwent the best summer of training she’s ever put together.
Autumn Brower, Ludington: As many freshmen tend to do, Autumn closed her year with her best races. Placed 17th here, an individual qualifier, took advantage of that the following week with a 25+ second personal best.