Craig Dickinson would rather not talk about the 2013 Division 1 cross country regional.
His Port Huron Northern boys team had been the favorite in what figured to be — and wound up being — a tough regional, but the Huskies ultimately finished outside of the top three, missing out on a chance to run at the state finals.
So even though Dickinson would rather not rehash the details, the story of this year’s Northern boys cross country team wouldn’t be complete without it.
“They talk about it a lot,” Dickinson said. “About having to do it on that day. The biggest thing last year is we just weren’t healthy. I think if we were healthy, I know we make it, and we there was a pretty good shot we win it.
“But it has definitely served as motivation.”
Northern will hope that motivation pays off Saturday when they run in the Division 1 regional at Goodells County Park. Most of the area’s cross country teams will be at the site, as it also will be the site for Division 2 and 3 regionals. Racing begins at 10 a.m. with the Division 3 boys. That will be followed in order — with races starting every 30 minutes — by the Division 2 boys, Division 3 girls, Division 2 girls, Division 1 boys and Division 1 girls.
The area’s Division 4 schools, as well as some in Division 3, will also run Saturday, but at Harbor Beach’s Wagener Park. The Division 4 boys will start at 10 a.m., followed by Division 3 boys at 10:45 a.m., Division 4 girls at 11:30 a.m. and Division 3 girls at 12:15 p.m.
The top three teams and top 15 individuals from each regional will qualify for the state meet on Nov. 1 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Entering Saturday, Northern is once again projected by Athletic.net to finish near the top of the regional, although this year the favorite is Lake Orion. Those projections use each runner’s best time, however, and they’re close enough from 1 to 6 that it appears several teams have a shot at winning or advancing. Northern’s Matt Thomas has the fastest individual time in the regional.
“There are six teams for three spots, and any one of those six could get first, and any one could get sixth,” Dickinson said. “Lake Orion is the favorite, then probably after them is Dakota and Rochester Adams. Romeo and Oxford would be fifth and sixth. Then we fit in there somewhere.
“If anybody has a bad day, they’re definitely not making it. If anybody has a real good day, they could win it.”
Vikings look for state berth
The Marysville girls team also will be looking to make up for regional heartbreak in the Division 2 race. Two years ago, the Vikings finished fourth, four points out of the third and final qualifying spot. It was the last time they had run at Goodells.
Of course, none of the members of this year’s team were among the seven varsity runners that day, and this year’s team is projected to finish third. If that projection holds, it would be the first time coach Steve Rogers has qualified a girls team for the state finals.
“First of all, we are healthy, which is a great thing,” Rogers said. “The girls are in really good spirits. We just had a chat at practice, and I said to them, ‘We are in the hunt for a spot, but there’s no guarantee.’
“If we run like we’re capable of, good things can happen.”
The Vikings are led by Macomb Area Conference Blue Division MVP Kenzie Weingartz, who broke 20 minutes this past weekend. But their strength as a team is depth.
“We do a pretty good job of pack running,” Rogers said. “It’s awesome when you have all those block Ms come in one right after the other, and there’s not much gap in between with another color uniform. That’s the key for us to keep us finishing tight.”
Croswell-Lexington is the projected top team in the regional, with Ortonville-Brandon second. Richmond and Notre Dame Prep aren’t far behind the Vikings in fourth and fifth.
The boys Division 2 meet figures to be tight as well, with a group of Blue Water Area Conference teams — among others — looking to unseat two-time defending state champion St. Clair. The Saints are projected as the top team, with Armada, Cros-Lex, Notre Dame Prep and Yale not far behind.
Algonac also figures to contend, simply based on the fact it has the region’s top runner in Morgan Beadlescomb, along with a strong team behind him.
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. He’s on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.
CROSS COUNTRY REGIONALS
At Goodells County Park
• LOCAL TEAMS: Port Huron, Port Huron Northern
• ATHLETIC.NET BOYS PROJECTIONS: 1. Lake Orion; 2. Port Huron Northern; 3. Macomb Dakota
• ATHLETIC.NET GIRLS PROJECTIONS: 1. Stevenson; 2. Eisenhower; 3. Rochester
• LOCAL TEAMS: Algonac, Armada, Croswell-Lexington, Marine City, Marysville, Richmond, St. Clair, Yale
• ATHLETIC.NET BOYS PROJECTIONS: 1. St. Clair; 2. Armada; 3t. Cros-Lex; 3t. Notre Dame Prep
• ATHLETIC.NET GIRLS PROJECTIONS: 1. Cros-Lex; 2. Ortonville-Brandon; 3. Marysville
• LOCAL TEAMS: Capac, Memphis
• ATHLETIC.NET BOYS PROJECTIONS: 1. Lutheran North; 2. Almont; 3. Capac
• ATHLETIC.NET GIRLS PROJECTIONS: 1. Lutheran North; 2. Capac; 3. Almont
At Wagener Park
• LOCAL TEAMS: Marlette, Sandusky
• ATHLETIC.NET BOYS PROJECTIONS: 1. Caro; 2. Sandusky; 3. Cass City
• ATHLETIC.NET GIRLS PROJECTIONS: 1. Caro; 2. Sandusky; 3. Otisville-LakeVille
• LOCAL TEAMS: Brown City, Deckerville, Landmark, Cardinal Mooney
• ATHLETIC.NET BOYS PROJECTIONS: 1. Ubly; 2. Lutheran Northwest; 3. Liggett
• ATHLETIC.NET GIRLS PROJECTIONS: 1. Ubly; 2. Liggett; 3. Oakland Christian