Prep boys' cross country preview

Prep boys' cross country preview

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Prep boys' cross country preview

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NOTE: AA-all-area, D1-Division 1, D2-Division 2, D3-Division 3, D4-Division 4, DT-Lansing State Journal Dream Team

CAAC BLUE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Okemos, 2. Holt, 3. Grand Ledge, 4. East Lansing, 5. Jackson, 6. Eastern, 7. Everett

Top runners: Daniel Kroth (Okemos), Nathan Megge (Grand Ledge), David McKinley (Okemos), Michael Buffin (Grand Ledge), Dietrich Hittner (East Lansing), Jack Twaorzynski (Grand Ledge)

EASTERN

Last year: 6th (2-5 in dual meets)

Coach: Kim Christian (8th season)

Top returning runners: Shawn Sparks (sr.), Hai Nguyen (sr.), Brian King (jr.), Nick Kilpatrick (jr.)

Other contributors: Richard Meredith (sr.), Amari Roper (jr.), Ben Alvarado (sr.)

Outlook: Playmakers is again selling “SAVE XC” shirts both online and in their store to help the Quakers (and Waverly) field a team without school district funding. The Eastern and Waverly teams each get $10 from the $20 price for the shirts. Sexton received some of that funding a year ago but dropped its program this fall. The Quakers should battle Jackson and Everett for fifth place.

EAST LANSING

Last year: 4th (5-2)

Coach: Pat Murray (20th season)

Top returning runners: Dietrich Hittner (jr.-16:46), Isayah Davis (sr.-17:16), Matt McDaniel (sr.-17:42), Taylor Zick (sr.-17:56), Billy Millar (sr.-17:59), Nicolas Pridnia (sr.), Andy Ashton (sr.)

Other contributors: Zach Wolfe (sr.), Jacob Stanton (fr.)

Outlook: The Trojans return four Capital Area Activities Conference Blue all-leaguers. State qualifier Hittner made first team, Davis second team, and Millar and Zick honorable mention. Stanton should also contribute immediately after winning the Greater Lansing Junior Cross Country Championships as an eighth-grader. East Lansing has moved to Division 1, but will compete with Holt and Okemos at the Brighton regional while Grand Ledge returns to Portage.

EVERETT

Last year: 7th (1-6)

Coach: Candace Dill (2nd season, 1st with boys)

Top returning runners: Nicholas Hiner (sr.), Khalil Young (sr.), Ryan Locke (sr.), Therman Wills (sr.), Dylan Tweedy (sr.)

Other contributors: Mason Croley (jr.), Phu Ho (sr.)

Outlook: The Vikings should challenge Jackson and Eastern for fifth place. The four CAAC Blue programs that produced all 21 all-leaguers last fall will be tough for Everett, Jackson or Eastern to surpass.

GRAND LEDGE

Last year: 3rd (5-2)

Coach: Tim Hoshal (16th season, 2nd with boys)

Top returning runners: Jack Twarozynski (so.-16:49 D1AA), Austin Rios (sr.-16:57 D1AA), Tyler Bannhard (sr.-17:45), Ben Heriford (sr.-17:50), Kyle Strange (sr.), Tony Patino (so.)

Other contributors: Michael Buffin (jr.), Nathan Megge (jr.), Jordan Priest (jr.), Ian Ayers (so.)

Outlook: The Comets return four all-leaguers in Twarozynski (first team), Rios, Bannhard (both second team) and Heriford (honorable mention). But those four will be pushed — perhaps all the way to a league title — by junior newcomers Buffin and Megge. Megge made all-state in the 800-meter run in track and field last spring, and Buffin qualified for the Division 1 state meet in the 3,200 run. Rios and Twarozynski finished 11th and 12th at regionals to qualify for and then compete in the Division 1 state finals. Every runner who finishes in the top 15 at each regional meet on Oct. 27 will advance to the Nov. 3 state meet on the following Saturday, which will again be held at Michigan International Speedway near Brooklyn.

HOLT

Last year: 2nd (5-2)

Coach: Dave Foy (8th season)

Top returning runners: Grant Colligan (jr.-17:15), Andrew Middleton (sr.-17:17), Chris Gillespie (sr.-17:45), Kevin Caron (sr.-17:50), Kyle Harkema (jr.-17:56), Zach Hulliberger (jr.)

Other contributors: Ian Velasquez (jr.), Mark Danks (so.), Austin Ford (so.), Kyle Lentz (jr.)

Outlook: The Rams return five runners who broke 18 minutes last season, including all-leaguers Middleton (first team) and Colligan (second team).

OKEMOS

Last year: 1st (7-0)

Coach: Brian Harrod (1st season)

Top returning runners: Daniel Kroth (jr.-16:40 D1AA), Daniel Bartkowski (jr.-16:41 D1AA), David McKinley (jr.-16:44 D1AA), Grant Flanders (sr.-17:43), Dan Hagan (sr.-17:48), Kyle White (jr.-17:55), Greg Parker (sr.-17:55), Charlie VanSumeren (so.), Jason Letavish (sr.), Eddie Potchen (sr.)

Other contributors: Colin White (jr.), Danny Baker (fr.), Sam Wakeman (fr.), Kael Fineout (so.)

Outlook: The Chiefs return the top three runners from the team that won the CAAC Blue and its regional before finishing in 20th place at the Division 1 state finals: first team all-leaguers Kroth and McKinley plus Bartkowski from the second team. Newcomers Wakeman and Baker took 20th and 22nd in the Greater Lansing junior meet as eighth-graders.

CAAC RED

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Ionia, 2. Haslett, 3. St. Johns, 4. DeWitt, 5. Owosso, 6. Fowlerville

Top runners: Brice Brown (Ionia), Alex McCormick (Haslett), Brandon Winter (Ionia)

DEWITT

Last year: 4th (4-4-3 jamboree finishes)

Coach: Brian Byars (12th season)

Top returning runners: Nate Kimble (sr.-16:56), Aaron Scheffler (jr.-17:08), Mitch Kolito (so.-17:45), Joe Wojciechowski (sr.-17:53), Phillip McCauley (sr.-17:56), Jacob Lentz (jr.)

Outlook: The Panthers return five runners who broke 18 minutes last year, including honorable mention all-leaguers Scheffler and Kimble.

FOWLERVILLE

Last year: 6th (6-6-6)

Coach: Aaron Rickens (2nd season)

Top returning runners: Susek Uziemblo (sr.), Tyler Burkhardt (so.), Corbyn Shaw (sr.), Jacob Hubert (jr.)

Outlook: Rickens says the Gladiators are “looking to improve on personal bests and getting the program stronger so we can compete with the teams in our league.”

HASLETT

Last year: 2nd (2-2-1)

Coach: Nicholas Stanko (5th season)

Top returning runners: Alex McCormick (jr.-16:16 D2AA), Luke Corder (jr.-16:46), Nick Garnett (so.-17:42), Kenna Gebissa (sr.-17:42), Ian James (sr.-17:49), Anthony Sciarini (so.-17:59)

Other contributors: Ian Campa (jr.)

Outlook: The Vikings return just two of the seven runners who finished 11th at the Division 2 state finals: all-stater and first team all-leaguer McCormick and second team all-leaguer Corder. But four other Haslett runners broke 18 minutes last year, possibly giving the Vikings more depth than league rival Ionia.

IONIA

Last year: 1st (1-1-2)

Coach: Chris Young (36th season)

Top returning runners: Brice Brown (sr.-16:01 D2AA), Brandon Winter (sr.-16:06 D2AA), Dillon Braun (jr.-16:32), Jorge Cardenas (jr.), Pete Pelon (so.)

Other contributors: Jordan Zamarron (so.), Austin Winter (sr.), Marshal Rademacher (so.), Tim Mayer (so.)

Outlook: The Bulldogs return just three of the seven runners who finished third at the Division 2 state finals on the heels of first and fifth-place finishes in 2009 and 2010. Brown and Winter earned all-state, Brown made first team all-league, and Winter and Braun were second team.

OWOSSO

Last year: 5th (5-5-5)

Coach: Chris Bird (6th season) and Brandon Johnson (5th season)

Top returning runners: Dakota Brasseur (jr.-17:19), Eli Jenkinson (sr.-17:22), Caleb Hess (sr.-17:39), Austin Messman (jr.-17:52), Thomas Horak (so.), Ryan Weaver (jr.), Ryan Willis (sr.), Jacob Mohlman (jr.)

Outlook: The Trojans have greatly improved thanks to greater mileage over the summer, according to Bird. Brasseur and Jenkinson earned honorable mention all-league last fall.

ST. JOHNS

Last year: 3rd (3-3-4)

Coach: Bob Sackrider (17th season)

Top returning runners: Spencer Shellberg (sr.-16:38), Drew Hyatt (jr.-16:39), Codey Cook (so.-16:44), Tyler Howard (sr.-17:05), Kyler Van Wormer (sr.), Brady Cramer (so.), Nick Huard (jr.), Duncan Wright (so.), Wolfgang Stark (so.)

Other contributors: Jarrod Eaton (sr.), Collin Nurenberg (jr.), Ryan Kramer (fr.), Josiah Quinn (fr.)

Outlook: The Redwings return four all-leaguers: Shellberg and Cook (second team), Howard and Hyatt (honorable mention). Cook and Shellberg qualified for and competeed in the state finals as individuals. Additional help will come from Kramer, who took 16th in the Greater Lansing Junior meet last fall as an eighth-grader.

CAAC GOLD

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Mason, 2. Jackson Lumen Christi, 3. Eaton Rapids, 4. Charlotte, 5. Parma Jackson County Western, 6. Jackson Northwest, 7. Waverly

Top runners: Tanner Hinkle (Mason), Kenny Wherry (Eaton Rapids), Alex Whitmer (Mason), Charlie Ludlow (Jackson Lumen Christi), Mason VanDyke (Mason)

CHARLOTTE

Last year: 3rd (1-4 in dual meets)

Coach: Jay Gowell (5th season)

Top returning runners: Miles Garn (so.-17:51), Ryan Saloma (sr.), Bruce Baker (jr.)

Other contributors: Ethan Thuma (so.), Michael Florian (jr.), Conner Weisenborn (sr.)

Outlook: The Orioles hope to build on their third-place finish in the league meet with more dual-meet wins this fall. Garn and Baker earned honorable mention all-league.

EATON RAPIDS

Last year: 3rd (3-2)

Coach: Rick Smith (20th season), Erik Smith (1st season)

Top returning runners: Kenny Wherry (sr.-16:04 DT), Jake Spencer (so.-17:37), Collin Spagnuolo (jr.), Jacob Roodvoets (so.), Shea McKenzie (jr.)

Other contributors: Alan Grifiths (jr.), Tyler Myers (jr.), Jacob Disbro (so.), Brody Benward (fr.)

Outlook: The Greyhounds are led by all-stater Wherry, who also earned first team all-league. Spencer made the second team.

MASON

Last year: 1st (5-0)

Coach: Charles Miller (7th season)

Top returning runners: Tanner Hinkle (sr.-15:23 LSJ DT), Alex Whitmer (sr.-15:54 DT), Mason VanDyke (jr.-16:16 D2AA), Jacob Hanson (jr.-16:40), Paul Pioszak (jr.-17:22), Preston Tickner (so.-17:36), Greg Ingle (jr.-17:49), Jonah Horton (jr.-17:55)

Outlook: The defending state champion Bulldogs, who moved up from Division 2 runner-up in 2010, have the best top four runners in the area. LSJ runner of the year Hinkle, Whitmer, VanDyke and Hanson all made first team all-league, the first three earned all-state honors, and Hinkle and Whitmer repeated as all-staters. The question is who will emerge from second team all-leaguers Pioszak and Tickner or possibly Ingle or Horton to become the strong fifth runner the Bulldogs need to repeat as league, regional, Greater Lansing meet and state champions.

WAVERLY

Last year: 6th (1-4)

Coach: Rex Wilkes (6th season)

Top returning runners: Greg Johnson (jr.), Jason Maldonado (sr.), Mike Young (sr.), Jordan Potter (so.)

Other contributors: Michael Do (sr.), Elijah Baker (jr.), McKee Hibbs (so.)

Outlook: The Warriors are fielding a team again this fall despite lack of school district funding. Buying a “SAVE XC” shirt from Playmakers online or in their store will help fund the program. Johnson made honorable mention al-league last fall for Waverly.

CAAC WHITE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Lansing Catholic, 2. Williamston, 3. Stockbridge, 4. Corunna, 5. Portland, 6. Lakewood

Top runners: Keenan Rebera (Lansing Catholic), Aaron Baumgarten (Williamston), Alec Armstrong (Stockbridge)

CORUNNA

Last year: 4th (4-4-4 jamboree finishes)

Coach: Bryan Heid (8th season)

Top returning runners: Reilly Quinn (sr.-17:20), Dylan Wibert (so.), Dylan Cannon (jr.), Logan Kramer (jr.), Travis Holler (sr.)

Other contributors: Blake Watson (fr.), Jacob Trowbridge (fr.), Jacob Phillips (sr.)

Outlook: The Cavaliers return second team all-leaguer Quinn and honorable mention runner Wibert. Trowbridge took 11th in the Greater Lansing junior meet as an eighth-grader.

LAKEWOOD

Last year: 5th (5-6-5)

Coach: Jim Hassett (16th season)

Top returning runners: Traviss Wilkerson (jr.), Nolan Stoepker (sr.)

Other contributors: Parker Brighton (sr.), Ben Wakely (fr.), Tyler McDiarmid (fr.), Daniel Sauers (jr.)

Outlook: The Vikings look to move up in the standings.

LANSING CATHOLIC

Last year: 1st (1-1-1)

Coach: Tim Simpson (13th season)

Top returning runners: Keenan Rebera (so.-16:03 D3AA), Teddy Terzian (so.-16:54), Nick Sampson (jr.-16:56), Nick Kelsey (jr.-17:37), Nate Eggleston (sr.-17:58), Nate Warriner (sr.)

Other contributors: Teddy Jurkovic (so.), Max Hayden (jr.), Jeffery Lorencen (jr.)

Outlook: The Cougars return just all-stater Rebera, Terzian and Sampson from the seven runners who finished runner-up in the Divison 3 state finals. Rebera made first team and all-league, and Sampson honorable mention. But Simpson says they “have lots of young talent” with “tons of potential.”

PORTLAND

Last year: 6th (6-5-6)

Coach: Dan Sandborn (7th season)

Top returning runners: Alex Pung (sr.-17:54), Aaron Rutka (so.), Matt Shaltry (so.)

Other contributors: Nate Pung (so.)

Outlook: The Raiders are led by Alex Pung, who earned honorable mention all-league.

STOCKBRIDGE

Last year: 1st in SMAA (2-1-1)

Coach: Steve Allison (8th season)

Top returning runners: Alec Armstrong (sr.-16:29 D3AA), Austin Fillmore (so.-17:14), Evan Upshur (sr.-17:46), Mitchell Lilley (so.-17:55), Kaleb Losey (so.)

Other contributors: Nathaniel Baird (fr.), Austin Shepherd (fr.)

Outlook: The Panthers return five of the seven runners who finished seventh at the Division 3 state finals. Each made all-league. All-stater Armstrong and Fillmore were on the first team, Lilley second team, and Upshur and Losey honorable mention.

WILLIAMSTON

Last year: 3rd (2-3-3)

Coach: Kevin Rathbun (4th season)

Top returning runners: Aaron Baumgarten (sr.-16:25 D2AA), Ben Thoenes (jr.-16:36), Connor Coscarelli (sr.-17:39), Alexander Krantz (jr.-17:42), Alan Sleight (jr.)

Other contributors: Noah Goff (so.), Dakota VanErp (so.), Nathan Maurer (fr.), Garrett Smith (fr.)

Outlook: The Hornets return five all-leaguers: Baumgarten (first team), Thoenes and Krantz (second team), and Coscarelli and Sleight (honorable mention). Baumgarten and Thoenes qualified for and competed in the Division 2 state finals as individuals. Newcomers Maurer and Smith took 17th and 19th in the Greater Lansing junior meet as eighth-graders.

CMAC

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Pewamo-Westphalia, 2. Saranac, 3. Potterville, 4. Fowler, 5. Bath, 6. Fulton, 7. Laingsburg, 8. Dansville, 9. Portland St. Patrick

Top runners: Tim Young (Saranac), Bohdan Hartman (Fulton), Norman Emineth (Potterville), Grant Feldpausch (Fowler)

BATH

Last year: 6th (6-6-5 jamboree finishes)

Coach: Brad Abendroth (3rd season)

Top returning runners: Nick Thomas (sr.-17:50), Will Spagnuolo (jr.), Zach Seddon (sr.), Brad Coulter (jr.), Russell Lipe (sr.)

Other contributors: Elliott Lipe (fr.), Marshall Lipe (fr.), Kyle Coulter (fr.), Cooper Spaulding (jr.), Jim Coffman (fr.)

Outlook: The Bees’ Thomas made honorable mention all-league in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference. Newcomer Coulter took 13th in the Greater Lansing junior meet as an eighth-grader.

DANSVILLE

Last year: 10th (10-10-10)

Coach: J.D. Pepper (3rd season)

Top returning runners: Ethan Myer (so.)

Other contributors: Cody Laurenty (fr.)

Outlook: In their third year as a revived program, the Aggies will try to add some runners so they can reach the five needed to compete as a team at invitationals and league jamborees.

FOWLER

Last year: 4th (4-5-4)

Coach: Sharon Becker (1st season)

Top returning runners: Grant Feldpausch (sr.-16:48 D4AA), Brice Thelen (jr.-17:56), Drew Bierstetel (so.), Joe Wolfert (jr.)

Other contributors: Adam Schaefer (jr.), Kenny Goldman (sr.), Zach Feldpausch (jr.)

Outlook: The Eagles’ Feldpausch earned all-state as well as first team all-league, while Thelen achieved honorable mention status.

FULTON

Last year: 7th (7-8-7)

Coach: Janae Yeomans (1st season)

Top returning runners: Bohdan Hartman (so.-16:39 D4AA), Zach Bates (jr.)

Other contributors: Tom Browne (jr.), Ryan Womble (so.), Devin Reichard (so.)

Outlook: The Pirates are led by Hartman, who earned all-state as well as first team all-league.

LAINGSBURG

Last year: 8th (8-7-8)

Coach: Mal Balow (8th season)

Top returning runners: Ian Stewart (so.), Alex Sperry (so.), Justin Moiles (so.)

Other contributors: Jordan Ranson (jr.), Grant Young (so.), Trevor Conlay (fr.), Jacob Danek (fr.), Jacob Rouse (fr.), Ben Kusler (fr.)

Outlook: Thanks to Wolfpack boys soccer coach Scott Belanger, the roster contains four runners who will also play soccer this fall: Ransom, Danek, Rouse and Kusler.

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA

Last year: 1st (1-2-1)

Coach: Scott Werner (12th season)

Top returning runners: Greg Trierweiler (sr.-16:52 D4AA), Blake Thelen (sr.-17:11), Tanner Droste (jr.-17:14), Caleb Barker (so.-17:29), Randy Schafer (jr.-17:58), Josh Pennell (sr.), Zach Schafer (so.)

Outlook: Other schools in the CMAC may have better frontrunners, but the defending league champion Pirates have the most depth returning. The first three and five of the seven P-W runners who finished eighth at the Division 3 state finals are back this fall. All five made all-league: Trierweiler (first team), Droste, Thelen and Barker (second team) and Schafer (honorable mention).

PORTLAND ST. PATRICK

Last year: 9th (9-9-9)

Coach: Dan Lawless (3rd season)

Top returning runners: Noah Pung (so.)

Other contributors: Isaac Brown (fr.), Jakob Koenig (jr.), Travis Moyer (fr.), Josh Osborne (fr.)

Outlook: The Shamrocks graduated four runners, but will still field a team for a third straight year at a school that hadn’t had one for decades.

POTTERVILLE

Last year: 2nd (2-1-2)

Coach: Dan Brunk (15th season)

Top returning runners: Norman Emineth (sr.-16:45 D4AA), Sam Traver (so.-17:00), Alec Badgley (so.)

Other contributors: A.J. Schmiedeknecht (jr.), Andrew Wright (jr.)

Outlook: The Vikings won a jamboree, but P-W kept Potterville from earning a sixth league title in seven years last fall. The Vikings return all-stater and first team all-leaguer Emineth as well as second teamer Traver.

SARANAC

Last year: 3rd (3-3-3)

Coach: Erric and Diana Smith (5th season)

Top returning runners: Tim Young (sr.-16:27 D3AA), Brendan Klynstra (so.-17:21), Steven Jorgensen (sr.), Trever Overbeck (sr.), Aaron Sluiter (so.)

Other contributors: Branden Smith (fr.), Ryan Vance (jr.), Joe Conley (fr.), Greg Shaffer (jr.), Jeremy Knop (so.)

Outlook: The Redskins return four all-leaguers: all-stater Young (first team), Klynstra (second team), Jorgensen and Overbeck (honorable mention). Smith went undefeated as an eighth grader.

MSAC

2011 league finishes: 1. Coleman, 2. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 3. Blanchard Montabella, 4. Vestaburg

2012 top runners: Tyler Craig (Carson City-Crystal), Alex Brown (Coleman)

CARSON CITY-CRYSTAL

Last year: 5th (5-4-6 in CMAC jamborees)

Coach: Grant Woodman (1st season)

Top returning runners: Tyler Craig (jr.-17:20), Kolton Kavanagh (so.), Caleb Gesselman (sr.)

Other contributors: Thomas Vargas (sr.), Eric Campbell (sr.), Brendan Silvernail (so.)

Outlook: The Eagles should be able to compete for the Mid-State Athletic Conference conference title. They are led by Craig, who finished second team all-league in Carson City-Crystal’s final year in the CMAC.

GAC

2011 league meet finishes: 1. Goodrich, 2. Byron, 3. New Lothrop, 4. Otisville Lakeville, 5. Durand, 6. Lake Fenton, 7. Montrose, 8. Burton Bendle, 9. Genesee, 10. Mount Morris Johnson

2012 top runners: David Whaley (Byron), Ian Nemeth (Perry), Donovan Ward (Mount Morris Johnson)

PERRY

Last year: 2nd (3-2-2 in CAAC White jamborees)

Coach: Carl Willits (12th season)

Top returning runners: Ian Nemeth (jr.-17:28), Brett Navarre (so.-17:41)

Other contributors: Jordan Depew (so.), Jeremy Johnston (so.), Adam Stackpole (so.)

Outlook: Nemeth made second team all-league, and Navarre achieved honorable mention status in the Ramblers’ last year in the CAAC White. But they are the only runners back from the seven who finished 22nd in the Division 3 state finals. Depth could be a problem this fall as Perry joins the Genesee Area Conference, where Goodrich won a year ago before graduating the top four runners who finished 2-4-6-8 in the 2011 GAC meet.

KVA

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic, 2. Schoolcraft, 3. Constantine, 4. Kalamazoo Christian, 5. Maple Valley, 6. Olivet, 7. Delton Kellogg, 8. Parchment, 9. Battle Creek Pennfield, 10. Galesburg-Augusta

Top runners: Zach Wehner (Schoolcraft), Michael Myers (Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic), Doug Hollett (Kalamazoo Christian), Connor Bresnahan (Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic)

MAPLE VALLEY

Last year: 6th

Coach: Robb Rosin (9th season)

Top returning runners: Kyle Brumm (jr.), Micah Bromley (jr.), Sam Benedict (jr.), Austin Rood (jr.)

Other contributors: Andrew Brighton (so.), Brandon Wilson (jr.), Felix Pena (so.), Seth Gurd (fr.)

Outlook: Rosin says “athletic newcomers” and four returning runners should enable the Lions to “be very competitive in the league.”

OLIVET

Last year: 5th

Coach: Mike Spoelstra (15th season)

Top returning runners: Jonah Smith (jr.), Joe MacInnes (so.), Hayden Spoelstra (jr.), Nathan VanSlyke (sr.), Nick Johnson (so.), Josh Turner (sr.), Chance Day (so.)

Other contributors: Collin Hannahs (fr.), Jacob Wilkinson (sr.), Ian Hines (fr.), Austin Gordon (jr.)

Outlook: The Eagles look to move up in the Kalamazoo Valley Association standings.

TVC CENTRAL

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Alma, 2. Freeland, 3. Hemlock, 4. Ovid-Elsie, 5. Shepherd, 6. Chesaning, 7. Midland Bullock Creek, 8. Saginaw Swan Valley

Top runners: Jake Morey (Alma), Brent Wegner (Freeland), Broderic Bender (Alma), Tyler Jensen (Ovid-Elsie), Jacob Fong (Saginaw Swan Valley), Luke Hurst (Ovid-Elsie)

ALMA

Last year: 2nd (3-1-3 jamboree finishes)

Coach: Dale Devine (22nd season)

Top returning runners: Jake Morey (jr.-16:46), Broderic Bender (sr.-16:46), Collin Lott (so.-17:38), Andrew Benn (sr.), Aaron Stebelton (sr.), Dominic Garcia (jr.)

Other contributors: Tim DeJong (sr.), Hayden Bailey (fr.)

Outlook: The Panthers look to compete for the Tri-Valley Conference Central title. Individual state meet qualifier Bender and Morey both made second team all-league in 2011.

OVID-ELSIE

Last year: 8th (8-7-8)

Coach: Scott Sheedlo (12th season)

Top returning runners: Tyler Jensen (sr.-16:34 D3AA), Luke Hurst (sr.-16:53), Ty Pardee (so.), Dominick Willaford (so.), Jayson Wakefield (jr.)

Other contributors: Gage Cleveland (fr.), Josh Peckens (fr.)

Outlook: The Marauders are led by Jensen and Hurst. Jensen earned first team all-league, Hurst made the second team, and both qualified for the state meet as individuals.

TVC WEST

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Ithaca, 2. Breckenridge, 3. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, 4. Carrollton, 5. St. Louis, 6. Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 7. St. Charles, 8. Merrill

Top runners: Nate Partee (Breckenridge), Stephen Merchant (Ithaca), Kurt Gulick (Breckenridge), Kaleb Coston (Ithaca), Jesse Corbat (Breckenridge)

ITHACA

Last year: 2nd (1-2-2 jamboree finishes)

Coach: Tim Lambrecht (18th season)

Top returning runners: Stephen Merchant (sr.-16:33 D3AA), Kaleb Coston (sr.-17:02), Kaleb Baublitz (sr.-17:23), Alik Helms (sr.-17:48), John Lambrecht (so.), Avery Smally (sr.)

Other contributors: James O’Boyle (fr.), Jacob Ellsworth (fr.), Caleb Freestone (jr.)

Outlook: The Yellowjackets return their top four runners for another battle with Breckenridge for the TVC West title. All-stater Merchant and Coston earned first team all-league, and Baublitz, Helms and Smally all made the second team last fall for Ithaca.

INDEPENDENTS

LESLIE

Last year: 3rd in SMAA (3-2-3 jamboree finishes)

Coach: David Hovarter (10th season)

Top returning runners: Matt Subject (jr.-17:21), Steven Wiltse (jr.-17:52), Levi Prater (so.-17:53), Garrett Tremaine (jr.)

Other contributors: Koty Conaty (so.), Justin Keller (jr.), Troy Davis (fr.), Luke Gilliland (so.)

Outlook: The Blackhawks return four runners who made all-league in Leslie’s last year in the dissolved SMAA: Subject (first team), Wiltse and Prater (second team), and Tremaine (honorable mention).

LANSING CHRISTIAN

Last year: 6th in SMAA

Coach: Rich Helder (2nd season at LC, 9th overall)

Top returning runners: A.J. Rakestraw (sr.), Trace Henderson (so.), Carter Davis (jr.), Jake Woodland (so.), Jason Bergeron (so.), Garrett Strpko (fr.), Luke Block (sr.)

Outlook: The Pilgrims look to improve as the season moves along to try to qualify one or more runners for state finals with a top-15 finish at regionals.

CAPITAL HOMESCHOOL

Last year: independent

Coach: Kevin Shoemaker (2nd season)

Top returning runners: Harrison Dysart (sr.), Jonathan Alvaro (jr.)

Other contributors: Justin Hartges (sr.)

Outlook: The Chariots became the third homeschool team in the state of Michigan last fall. CHAP hopes to improve on finishes in two late October meets: the Class D Coaches Association meet at Mount Pleasant and the inaugural Michigan Independent High School (MIHS) meet in Allendale.

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