Where: Goodells County Park. Sure they have a farm museum, some old homes, expansive barns, but it seems like a spot made for cross country. Ample parking, easy course to follow, some strategic elements with turns and jaunts through the woods. I’m sure there are some teams looking to exact some revenge from the previous carnage that took place here in 2019. Anyhow, this has typically run a little fast, but on par with most regionals at this time of the year. A course map:
2021 Boys: Romeo (5th), Lake Orion (9th), Port Huron Northern (23rd)
2021 Girls: Oxford (8th), Romeo (6th), Macomb Dakota (20th)
Jacob Tanner already covered the boys race in great detail, mentioning many names, faces, players to watch, history, predicting the future. You should read it! Thank you, Jacob, for saving me a few paragraphs. There are a few things that I must mention, one of them that both of us learned. Romeo loses Gabe Phelps, who I had projected as a top-10 kid here, to Cranbrook for lacrosse. This clamps up the contenders to an even greater degree, with these projections having five teams separated by 40 points, four teams by 20 points.
With so many teams in a tight space, each place is crucial. The ratings here suggest that there will be a significant pack of kids with ratings between 165-180, on a Goodells-type course, this will be 16:45 to 17:30. If you’re a 17:15 kid and have a bad day, you could slide down 10 places more than normal. Consequently, the opposite is true. Manipulating packs is the key to lower points. Here’s a few runners from each contending teams that will be in that pack:
Michael Magnoli, Romeo: 4:43 at the Macomb County 1600m
Zach Larson, Stony Creek: 10:18 during a windy 3200m at Elmer Ball
Jet Miller, Grosse Pointe South: Improved nearly 2:00 from his freshman to sophomore year
Connor Steepe, Fraser: 10:20 at the Macomb County 3200m
Aidan Leslie, Anchor Bay: 4:45 at the Barnyard
If any of these folks have a day, that could be the hidden factor needed in clinching a spot in this highly competitive regional.
Of course, all this talk about the boys and the girls get no love. Romeo’s reloading again, replacing Sarah Greb, the Felstows, Brianna Wiegand, and many others from the monstrous class of ’22. But when you take your middle school program seriously, the result is a team that rebuilds on the run.
By the projections, this might not be the year for Fraser… yet. Their girls track team had about as solid of a program-building year that one can ask for. Six returning girls ran sub-13 in the 3200m, four sub-6 in the 1600m. That’s definitely a start, and given these projections weight towards cross country, perhaps I’m underrating the Ramblers.
One girl not underrated by myself is Dakota’s Lindsay Harvey. While Mariah Belmont and Jayden Harberts will rack up all the accolades and medals, it’s girls such as Lindsay that make a team. She’s part of their 4×800 that captured a Macomb County title and an All-State.
Top 25 Boys Teams: Romeo (9th – but this was before I found out Gabe Phelps is playing lacrosse at Cranbrook), Port Huron Northern (11th), Grosse Pointe South (22nd)
Top 25 Girls Teams: Romeo (7th), Macomb Dakota (15th), Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (22nd)
Here, I’m writing at least a little anecdote about kids that are in the top-15 but aren’t freshman (Lance, Emmerson), in the 50 Tickets (Logan, Thomas, Connor, Madison, Mariah, AnnDee, and I think I’m missing someone?), or on Top 10 teams (Romeo and Romeo). 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.
Justin Roose, Fraser: Improvements abound from Justin, from 62nd to 5th at Regionals and lowering his personal best by over a minute.
Chaz Huthwaite, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek: Began to ramp it up a bit last October, grabbing a 20th place finish at the Oakland County Championship. More than cut his place in half, he was 45th as a freshman.
Brendan Downey, Grosse Pointe South: A sleep sleep sleeper on the Division 1 scene. With a few sub-17’s in the fall, he was able to flash a little potential. But there were some clunkers mixed in there. Track showed a significant improvement in his consistency and the payoff on all those quality races – a 4:23 in the D1 State 1600m.
Zachary Rubicz, Anchor Bay: Thomas ain’t the only Tar boy comin’, Zach’s created some promise as well. Slipped under 10:00 in early May, a sure sign that he’s ready to spend some time in the 16’s come cross.
Dylan Penberthy, L’Anse Creuse North: He of the massive breakthrough at State. 16:28 there when his previous best was above 17:00.
Tyler Donovan, Fraser: In line with many in Macomb County, kids such as Tyler seriously stepped up their game. A 9:49 closer at the County meet sets the bar high for what looks to be an outstanding fall.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Port Huron Northern: I’m sounding like a broken record with the progressions here. But you can’t stop calling it out. From 19:00 to 16:48, one can only imagine all the miles put down along the way.
Luke VanderHeuvel, Port Huron Northern: Athletes such as Luke jumping from 53rd to 21st are a major reason why the Huskies came into the season ranked 4th in their region and left Anchor Bay proving those wrong.
Evan Lord, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek: It’s the work ethic for me. For years, I’ve been hearing of Evan’s passion towards the sport. That time dedicated surely led to his 10:03 thrown down during the spring.
Luke Maher, Port Huron Northern: This trio and those closely behind are what makes Port Huron Northern dangerous. Three sub-17’s at the front, Luke made a point to put himself in that group with his 16:55 at D1 State.
Jacob Maurer, Utica Eisenhower: Has always been a good miler, the hope is that can translate to the grass. His 4:36 at the County Meet was good for 6th and maybe a signal that he can push into the 16’s?
Grace Grupido, Fraser: She’s the leader of this young band of Fraser Ramblers, and who better to look to than a girl who gritted out a 5:14/11:18 as a freshman.
Lily Solek, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek: She’s made it to MIS in each of her three seasons, but 2021 was her lowest finish yet. After hitting 18:59 a few weeks prior, she was the 74th finisher at the speedway.
Savannah Spangler, Grosse Pointe South: Competed only six times as a freshman, but in those small amount of races, she was able to progress from 22:31 to 20:08. Regional champ in both the 1600m and 3200m, then was able to gain valuable experience racing on the big stage at Rockford.
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