Muskegon Catholic Central vs. Holland Calvary Christian for that third spot in the Boys race. CRUSADER VS. CRUSADER. I must admit, I’m a bit confused by Calvary Christian. The Crusaders ran a team full of 8th graders at the Portage Early Bird, the full 5k, and dang, those were some good 8th graders. Four broke 20:00, Riley Weed nearly got into the 17’s. But no HS races since. I know 8th graders can compete at the high school level depending on a school’s enrollment, and these ones are definitely capable of doing some damage. If they are to race in late October, they’ll likely be in direct competition with a Muskegon Catholic Central team that thrives on its pack running. At both the Alliance Conference meets, the trio of Jacob/Owen Lyonnais and Jack Walkenhorst were separated by less than 15 seconds. A little XC Math for ya: three teammates passing by a rival is a six point swing.
Sam Martini vs. Nathan Jenkins for the boys win. Before I say anything, I think both are great kids, great runners, and I’m not looking to pit two people against one another. Although merely 25 miles apart, in the same metro area, Kent City and Calvin Christian have not faced off against one another this year. In the races I’ve covered, both have been consistent, turning in the equivalent of mid-16 efforts or faster. Sam has the best race of the two, a 16:20 a few weeks back at Central Montcalm. Nathan is coming off a season’s best, a 16:16 at Autumn Sunrise.
Natalie VanOtteren vs. Allison Kuzma for the girls win. Once again, sorta amazing that two prominent runners in such close proximity haven’t faced off against one another on the grass this fall. Last fall, both were All-State – Natalie placing 4th, Allison 11th. Natalie picked up the season at the level she reached late last fall, with multiple 18:1x efforts. Allison made that jump from 2021 cross to 2022 track, where she closed the spring season with a 17:18 at New Balance Nationals.
Rockford vs. Grand Haven vs. Zeeland West for that final girls qualifying slot. We have some head to head matchups! Do they tell us anything? Um, yeah about that. At Ottawa Hills, Rockford and Zeeland West came to a tie through 5 runners, Stephanie Dodd beating Rockford’s 6th by 4 places. At OK Red 1, Rockford beat Grand Haven by 1 point (and lost to Jenison by 3, maybe this is a four team battle for 2 spots?). As the regional field is a bit deeper and slightly weaker than the OK Red, many girls will pass the line in that range of these three crews 4th-7th girls. Over the next month, who will emerge and help their team advance to compete for one more week?