Updated: Apr 17
The Blue Water Area boasts a lot of talent in the distance events, and with many of last year's top sprinters graduated, this season presents plenty of opportunity for up-and-comers.
Here are six stories to follow this season:
Will Michael Ferguson repeat as regional champ?
Yale senior Michael Ferguson won last year’s regional title in the 400-meter dash by nearly a second with a winning time of 51.65 seconds, which, at the time, was a personal record. He went on to finish 13th overall at the Division 2 State Finals.
After committing to the University of Detroit Mercy this winter, he’s wasted no time this season, running a new PR of 51.24 at the Saginaw Valley State University Indoor Invite at the end of March.
Competition in the 3200-meter runs deep.
The season’s still early as most teams are running their first meet this week, however, things are looking good for the area’s distance runners.
Port Huron Northern opened at the Shake Off the Rust Invitational where senior Glen Davis won the 3200-meter run in 9 minutes, 42.9 seconds, already 13 seconds faster than last season’s best. It’s also worth noting that he ran a 9:38.54 indoors at SVSU in March.
There’s also seniors Lukas Kriesch of Yale and Camden Khon of Armada. They’ve each been crowned the BWAC MVP in cross country and last spring, they pushed each other to personal-times at the regional to qualify for the Division 2 State Finals. Kriesch boasts a PR of 9:41.38, which ties the Yale school record, and Khon ran 9:44.91.
St. Clair’s 4x800 should stay strong.
St. Clair and boys distance running has almost become synonymous. In cross country, the program boasts the longest active state-qualifying streak, one that’s been intact since 2000. This translates well onto the track as the Saints 4x800-meter relay has qualified for the State Finals for the last two years.
While Sam Vitale and Connor Kreger have since moved on to run at the collegiate level, seniors David Harris and Carter Boullard return from last year’s squad.
Both are already on the cusp of breaking the two-minute barrier this season, having run a 2:00.79 and 2:00.93 indoors in February, respectively. And with fellow senior Joe Edgemon and juniors Dylan Distelrath and Vinny Schweihofer, they’ll have a solid pool to choose from as they form the relay.
Chase Battani adds to his event list.
As a freshman, Almont’s Chase Battani won pole vault at 11 different meets, including the BWAC Championship. He finished second at the regional meet and placed ninth at the Division 3 State Finals, missing all-state by one spot. He had one of the best marks in the area with a personal best of 13 feet, 6 inches.
While pole vault may be his featured event, he was also a state-qualifying hurdler. He ran a personal best of 43.90 in the 300-meter hurdles at regionals and placed 17th at the State Finals last season. He finished as a narrow third in the 110-meter hurdles (16.67 seconds) as well.
So far this spring he’s already run 16.40 in the 110 hurdles and 44.01 in the 300 hurdles, and he seems to be adding another event: shot put. With six of last year’s top eight finishers in the BWAC graduated, Battani could put himself in the mix for all-conference honors with his personal best of 35-3 so far.
It’s Hunter Richardson’s time to shine.
As Richardson enters his senior year at St. Clair, he brings with him momentum from last season as he saw steady improvement in shot put. He peaked at the Marysville Invitational with a personal best throw of 46-6 in late May and finished fourth in the region (45-0.5).
With Frankenmuth out of the region this year and six of last year’s top 10 graduated, Richardson remains the early season favorite.
Which sprinters are going to step up?
The area graduated a lot of speed last season: Richmond’s Evan Green (Division 3 state champ, 400m); St. Clair’s Colton Proctor (Region 20 champ, 110H and 300H); Armada’s Easton Vyt (BWAC runner-up to Green, 100m); and Marysville’s Cody Cain (MAC-Gold champ 100m, runner-up 200m).
Northern sophomore Isaiah Lopez will be one to watch for as he ran an 11.81 in the 100 at the Shake Off the Rust Invitational last week. Another speedy sophomore is Jack Wiegand of St. Clair. He boasts personal bests of 11.64 and 23.74 in the 100 and 200, respectively, from his freshman season.
We should also look for Ethan Dinanath, a junior from North Branch who finished fifth in the 400 at regionals last year in 53.77. He’s already improved to a 53.15 this spring.
And then there’s Armada senior Kyle Coenen, who not only was a state qualifier in the 300 hurdles last spring, but he’s also one of the area’s top 400 runners with a personal best of 52.46. He’s also run an 11.94 in the 100 and 24.27 in the 200.
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