Several area teams and individual runners will try to finish the season strong Saturday during the MHSAA state cross country finals at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Here are the top five things to watch for Lansing area teams and individuals.
The Lansing Catholic boys cross country team made history last fall by capturing its first Division 3 state title.
They have their top five finishers from that championship team back this fall and will try to repeat Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
The Cougars entered last year’s state finals as the top-ranked team in Division 3. They are No. 2 entering the championship meet this fall behind Saugatuck, who is the defending Division 4 state champions.
Senior Ethan Markey owns the fastest time among Lansing Catholic runners this fall when he completed the course at MSU Spartan Invitational in 16 minutes and 18 seconds in September. Sophomore Will Peters, who stepped at the finals last fall and was pivotal to the title, ran a season-best time of 16:29 last month at the Greater Lansing meet.
COUGAR GIRLS ALSO IN HUNT
Lansing Catholic’s girls team, which won the Greater Lansing meet last month and has had three of the five fastest female runners in the Lansing area this season, also has a title shot. The Cougars enter the finals ranked No. 2 in Division 3 behind reigning state champion Traverse City St. Francis. Junior Olivia Theis has been the leader for Lansing Catholic this fall and has an area-best time of 17:21, which ranks second in Division 3 behind Hart sophomore Adelyn Ackley (17:16.4). Sophomore Lauren Cleary and freshman Jaden Theis also have been top performers for the Cougars.
DIVISION 4 CONTENDERS
Pewamo-Westphalia is back down to Division 4 after competing in Division 3 the past two years. And the Pirate boys and girls teams enter MIS ranked among the top three teams. The P-W boys are ranked No. 1 in the final state poll and have been led by Bryce Thelen, who was the runner-up at last week’s regional. He ran a season-best time of 16:35.5 at a CMAC jamboree last month. The Pirate girls are ranked No. 2 in the state poll and have been led by freshman Aubrey George, who has a season-best time of 18:59.9. George won the regional by 40 seconds last week. The Pewamo-Westphalia girls finished ninth as a team in Division 3 last year at MIS.
FIRST INDIVIDUAL TITLE?
Corunna senior Noah Jacobs, who recently verbally committed to continue his running career at Wisconsin, hasn’t lost a race this fall and is regarded as one of the top cross country runners in the nation. He will try to wrap up his strong fall by finishing as an individual state champion for the first time. Jacobs was the runner-up in Division 2 last fall and finished fifth as a sophomore. His fastest time this season is 15:05.4, which he ran at the Shiawassee County Invitational last month. While shooting for his first individual title, Jacobs also aims to help the Corunna boys finish on top as a team. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 3 in Division 2.
BUILDING OFF REGIONAL TITLES
Jacobs is one of nine runners from the Lansing area that captured regional titles last weekend and are trying to build off that success at the state meet. Okemos’ Saano Murembya (Division 1), St. Johns’ Dillan Haviland (Division 2), Stockbridge’s Jake Chapman (Division 3) and Portland St. Patrick’s Ashton Walker joined Jacobs as the area boys runners that won regional titles. The area girls regional champions were Grand Ledge’s Jenna Magness (Division 1), Mason’s Cecilia Stalzer (Division 2), Lansing Catholic’s Olivia Theis (Division 3) and George from Pewamo-Westphalia (Division 4).
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.