Welcome to the first batch of rankings. I’ve taken the adage of stress + rest = growth to heart, after a busy few weeks in August, I’ve been able to recharge, a bit of a lull before the storm to come.
The plan is to release both boys and girls rankings on Tuesdays, individual rankings on Thursday. This is for a few reasons. One, boys tend to get more interest than girls, combining the two will hopefully lead to more attention towards the girls. Two, scheduling these when I’m not working will give me a better chance to moderate some of the social media comments. Last year, some of these seemed to be of hurtful intent. I love harmless trash talk, but if you think your comment might be taken the wrong way, don’t post it. I’ll have very little tolerance for poor behavior, directed towards others and even myself.
I want to write more about teams and their journey through the season, highlighting those outperforming summer expectations or growing as the season wears on. The initial idea is to write about three teams from each division that moved up from the previous week, have stayed rock solid, attained a clutch victory or placing, intending to highlight as many teams as possible. This may be the top team, this may be the team that entered the ranking for the first time ever.
- The rankings are comprised of meets listed here.
- These meets are either invites or jamborees, containing 75 or more competitors on each side (with a few exceptions underneath).
- The HOBBS KESSLER RULE is in effect, where I eliminate the bottom third of one’s ratings, using the best two-thirds of an athlete’s season.
- A weighted average is then taken, with more recent meets given a higher weight.
- All the teams in a Division are then scored as if it’s an XC meet
- This is not a State Meet Projection, if there’s five teams in a Region deserving of a top-25 spot, they’re all in here
- For the UP, I combined all divisions. Once we get a few weeks in, I plan on separating into the three divisions.
- Remember that these are for FUN, cross country isn’t scored on paper, and only you can determine where your season goes.
|1||The Potter’s House||30||31|
|3||Petoskey St. Michael||158||28|
|4||Adrian Lenawee Christian||235||34|
|8||Mason County Eastern||478||29|
|9||Three Oaks River Valley||498||31|
|10||Marine City Cardinal Mooney||524||36|
|12||Holland Calvary Christian||551||31|
|16||Battle Creek St. Philip||653||32|
|19||Novi Christian Academy||679||33|
|25||St. Joseph Our Lady of the Lake Catholic||759||31|
Kalamazoo Hackett – The preseason numbers anticipated a freshman addition such as Sean Siems, they did not anticipate Marek Butkiewicz. Marek placed third in the heat in Michigan Catholic’s JV race, running an impressive 18:28 on a rugged course. He then turned around and competed for the Irish varsity squad at the Kalamazoo Invite, where they placed 2nd.
Holland Calvary Christian – Riley Weed is a young jumpstart for this young program. As a 7th grader, he broke 12:00 on many occasions and also placed high at many late-season championship meets. On the first day of the season, he competed in his first official HS 5k, an 18:12 at Portage. He’s part of a group of Crusaders that will surely impact the D4 standings in future, after all, they won the middle school division at Under the Lights.
Brown City – Easton Jager started off his season very similarly to how he did in 2020, where he ended up running in the mid-18’s for the Green Devils. His absence in 2021 contributed to Brown City’s lower preseason ranking, his presence moves them up into the top-20. At the Brown City Invite, the team was able to place 4th, ahead of many D4 schools from around the Thumb.
|5||Auburn Hills Oakland Christian||371||36|
|6||Rochester Hills Lutheran NW||398||36|
|12||The Potter’s House||507||31|
|13||Royal Oak Shrine||514||36|
|14||Mason County Eastern||523||29|
|15||Grand Traverse Academy||524||29|
|19||Lake Leelanau St. Mary||549||29|
|21||St. Joseph Our Lady of the Lake Catholic||554||31|
|22||Holland Calvary Christian||581||31|
|23||Indian River Inland Lakes||617||28|
|24||Clarkston Everest Collegiate||621||33|
|25||Allen Park Cabrini||644||36|
Unionville-Sebewaing – It’s a yearly tradition for the Patriots to outperform the summer projections. Early on, they’ve captured the win at their home invite and placed 2nd amongst a field of D3 teams at the Corunna Early Bird. At home, Alberta Reinbold stepped up and split up the Kingston girls. This last week, Olivia Peter joined her, both contributing to a near upset of D3 powerhouse St. Louis. At John Bruder tomorrow, the girls take on St. Louis, along with other top-ranked teams in Breckenridge and Beal City.
Leland – Oftentimes in the lower divisions, it takes one athlete to vault a team up the rankings. This is junior Amabel Schwaiger’s first year of cross country and she’s emerged as that depth that the Comets desire. They haven’t put a full squad together yet (Duncan and Knudsen out for Red Devil, Denoyer out for Pete Moss), but when they do, they’ll undoubtedly be one of the top teams in Region 29.
Indian River Inland Lakes – For Inland Lakes, it’s been Lauren Fenstermaker. Her initial foray into cross country, a 23:08 and 18th place at Red Devil. The Bulldogs were in a dead heat with Gaylord St. Mary, their Region 28 competition. Gaylord St. Mary took the victory with this field, but in a dual, Indian River would have won. Cross country scoring is funny like that.
|3||Traverse City St. Francis||297||19|
|11||Grand Rapids Covenant Christian||540||21|
|13||Stanton Central Montcalm||683||21|
|16||Monroe St. Mary CC||802||27|
|18||Jackson Lumen Christi||835||23|
Saranac – This recent version of Saranac has been a team identifiable by two traits: their youth and their depth. Their youth gave the Redskins intrigue, qualifying for State and placing 21st there with a team consisting of zero seniors. Their depth evident in the six boys capable of breaking 18:00. Well, they added more depth to their depth and they’re a year older. Evan Johnson ran an 18:20 on a hot day at their home invite, spurring the team to a victory over a field full of ranked D3 competitors.
Ithaca – 2022 was looking to be a reloading year for the Yellowjackets, replacing Lehnst, Sanchez, Woodman and replacing those seniors with a bunch of freshmen. But it’s been the introductions of a sophomore and a senior, Miingen Bertrand and Lane McDonald who have bolstered Coach Merchant’s squad. The past two springs, McDonald has evolved into a solid mid-distance runner, now he’s taken it to the grass, breaking 18:00 at Yellowjacket. Bertrand has been on the cusp of sub-19 in both of his outings. The Jackets will be in the upper division tomorrow at John Bruder, hoping to get pulled to even better marks.
Bath – Luke Skidmore has made a vast improvement from his prior cross country experience. As an 8th grader in 2020, he was always above 14:00 for the 2-mile distance. Fast forward two years and he’s dropped the pace while increasing the distance. In that process, he’s been a boon for the Bees, helping them to a 4th place finish at Saranac over a fellow Region 24 rival.
|1||Traverse City St. Francis||174||19|
|2||Jackson Lumen Christi||180||23|
|9||Muskegon Western Michigan Christian||386||21|
|10||Monroe St. Mary CC||505||27|
|17||Stanton Central Montcalm||712||21|
|25||Grandville Calvin Christian||840||21|
Elk Rapids – Elk Rapids’ inclusion in the Summer Top Tens was predicated on the incoming freshmen, Schulte, Pray, Swanson. Their Cherryland MS squad had won the Lake Michigan Conference title, their HS squad had qualified for State, but were replacing a boatload of seniors. Two less expected contributors to the Elks have been Hunter Schellenbarger and Kendall Standfest. Schellenbarger has been homing in on the 20’s, Standfest has been a consistent high-21 girl in her first year of cross country. Both have been instrumental in their win at Red Devil (over Petoskey!) and 3rd spot at Pete Moss.
Muskegon Western Michigan Christian – The Warriors have bounced around divisions in recent years, I guess they needed to move up to D3 after astounding success in D4 last year. In the wake of losing a reliable single point in Abby VanderKooi has been a team of girls that have stepped up. Cate Garretson, for one, has begun the season in late-season form, her 22:26 in the 5th spot securing a finish right amongst the likes of a few D1 and D2 squads at Under the Lights.
Charlevoix – Jacob Tanner covered her in his Three Stars feature, but it’s worth another mention. Laina Sladics has transformed from a girl running in the 22-23 min. range to a girl surely capable of getting into the 19’s. Doing so, she’s taken the Rayders from a team outside of the top-25 to firmly a contender to advance to MIS.
|1||East Grand Rapids||188||12|
|4||Forest Hills Eastern||247||12|
|5||Grand Rapids Christian||340||11|
|7||Dearborn Divine Child||480||18|
|20||Grand Rapids South Christian||735||12|
|22||Flint Powers Catholic||810||15|
|25||GR West Michigan Aviation||883||12|
Forest Hills Eastern – Summer mileage leads to early season payoffs. Brendan Hoving, Alex Parker, and Liam Hinman all are examples (and I’m sure there’s others) of kids that worked their tail off these past few months. Each dropped a minute+ at Under the Lights, contributing to a dominating win in the Sunset 5k. We now look ahead towards Otsego Bulldog (it’s a shame they’re not in the same OK Division as EGR and GR Christian), where a massive meeting of the D2 favorites will take place.
Grand Rapids South Christian – Boes and VanderKooi were always going to be reliable contributors at the front of races, South Christian needed to solidify the rest of their crew. Their 2021 team had a ton of boys that showed signs of stepping up. Early on, it’s been Gabe Verlin, who opened with a 30+ second PB at Under the Lights. The Sailors were 2nd on their home course, ahead of many west side competitors.
GR West Michigan Aviation – The Aviators only had to replace one senior from the team that competed at Regionals last fall, but that Regional squad finished back in 9th. As of this early moment in the season, it’s appearing as if Aviation is on the path to a top-5 Regional finish. Serious drops from runners such as Nathan Oki have serious implications. Saranac wasn’t easy this year, Nathan persevered on the road to an 18:23 performance, almost 2 minutes faster than his 2021 best.
|1||East Grand Rapids||65||12|
|2||Grand Rapids Christian||168||11|
|5||Forest Hills Eastern||369||12|
|10||Hudsonville Unity Christian||507||11|
|13||Grand Rapids South Christian||528||12|
|19||GR West Michigan Aviation||720||12|
Zeeland East – To my eye before the season, Zeeland East was viewed as Allison Kuzma and a gaggle of extremely solid girls. Hayley Heinrich, Addie Grill, Elise Meister plus a few freshmen giving off 20-21:00 minute vibes. What wasn’t seen was Meredith Cook’s help. Meredith was a member of the Cityside MS team, finished 16th in the MKO, but had results mainly in the high-13’s. Often, those sort of times will lead to a girl running in the 22 minute range as a freshman. And that’s why we don’t run races on paper, because Meredith debuted with a 19:48. Her Chix teammates also stepped up in their 2022 debut, where they dispatched many D1 teams in their vicinity.
Alma – I took some heat from the Eat Your Words gang before the season, where I had given the Panthers respect (3rd in a traditionally strong region), but apparently not enough. Early returns suggest those Ithaca alumni know better than I, Alma is poised for immediate success. Gaining Joy Evans, a 400m stud, is a major help. Improving from within is necessary as well. Hannah Raglin covered the Corunna course in 20:50, a minute faster than her 2021 opener. Alma drives up the road to John Bruder tomorrow, which will be an early preview of the Region 15 atmosphere.
Hudsonville Unity Christian – You can’t move from unranked to the top-10 without a massive surprise. Maddie Bruxvoort has been that surprise for me (but probably not her Crusader teammates). 21:32 at Under the Lights, a good 2 minutes better than much of her 2021 form.
|5||Traverse City Central||415||2|
|7||Detroit Catholic Central||452||7|
|9||Ann Arbor Skyline||496||4|
|10||Forest Hills Central||501||3|
|17||Port Huron Northern||786||9|
|18||Rochester Hills Stoney Creek||808||9|
|21||White Lake Lakeland||821||7|
|24||Walled Lake Northern||922||7|
Forest Hills Central – I truly try to give all teams equal attention and love, but there’s certain instances where it’s tough. West Side, Division 1 schools are a prime example. This is a compliment to the Grand Rapids running scene, the foundation of many schools and towns sharing fairly equal success. It takes a special someone to lift a squad. That could be Arianne Olson, it could be the FHE boys running the streets, or it could be Will Banfield coming in hot with his first 5k at the high school level, a 17:29. He was a middle school star, placing 11th at Portage, 10th at West Michigan, but nothing at the HS level until now. Look for him and Jacob Sanford (2:02 800m as a 9th grader) to help the Rangers upend some of that OK White hierarchy.
Clarkston – What better to prepare for a fall of hilly courses than an opener at Possum Hollow? I mentioned Bryce Nowik here, his brother didn’t run too bad either, written about by Jacob Tanner here. Henry Poploskie is another ingredient, returning to the form he flashed in bits of the 2021 season. Any occasion where one breaks 18:00 on the Kent Lake shores is notable, a 17:19 in early September especially so.
Salem – A program that has suffered a few hits due to graduation, Elliot Carey was poised to lead a team of quality athletes. Within those quality athletes, a few were needed to step up in order to ensure success in Region 6. PJ Kim looks to be an early candidate, his 17:04 at Under the Lights being almost a 45 second personal best.
|1||Holland West Ottawa||177||1|
|4||Ann Arbor Pioneer||381||5|
|7||Walled Lake Northern||452||7|
|10||Ann Arbor Skyline||504||4|
|14||Traverse City West||609||2|
|15||Rochester Hills Stoney Creek||634||9|
|17||Traverse City Central||652||2|
|24||Forest Hills Central||879||3|
Brighton – Mustang and Lamplighter are two of the early D1-centric meets for those of us in the Detroit area and the Orange & Black were a centerpiece of each. Carrigan Eberly and Nikki Carothers towards the front, contributions from freshmen in the middle, Stella Farmer and Elle Bissett displacing fools towards the back. The Bulldogs cleaned house in both instances, ahead of many teams who will be there in November.
Dexter – Addison Bruckman’s progress is up there with anyone in the state. Her freshman best was a 23:34 at the SEC Championship. Through two races, she’s already lowered that to 20:16. This gives Dexter a solid top-4, a needed factor in an area where many teams are in the same ballpark. We can’t forget her sister either, Antonia was the tiebreaker over at Huron Meadows, giving the Dreadnaughts the 2nd place nod over Ann Arbor Skyline.
Canton – It’s always tough to tell where Plymouth middle schoolers end up at high school, but I should’ve been on top of this one. Alexis Pickerel has been a staple for Canton the past two years, now she’s brought her younger sister along as well. Mya Pickerel debuted with a 20:33 at Lamplighter, then trudged through a cooker at Mustang (I was dehydrated, out of it by the end of the day). The mainstay, Cara Newman is a guarantee to run with the best, behind her and Alexis Pickerel are four Chief girls that can pack up and wreak havoc on other teams.
|3||Sault Ste. Marie||95||1|
Negaunee – The Miners were projected to be a senior-laden outfit, the triumvirate of Judge Anderson, James Dank, and John Plaxco leading the charge. Two others have stepped into important roles: Simon Jaklin as the intriguing youngster and Michael Slawinski shoring up the 5th spot. Slawinski was essential at Queen City, pushing back Gladstone and coming in just low enough to fend off Houghton.
|7||Sault Ste. Marie||165||1|
Houghton – Claire Filpus has shown in the past that she’ll be a top Gremlin girl. We know that one isn’t enough (even if that one was good enough for 3rd in UP D1 last fall), luckily two girls have joined her. Lily Ross was top-10 at both Queen City and Dale Phillips, improving her time by 30 sec. in the latter of the two races. Tessa Rautiola entered the fray this past week at Dale Phillips, hitting a 21:29. With three girls capable of being under 22:00, Houghton appears to be in the discussion for that 2nd spot in Division 1.