By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Runners put their summer training to the test when they opened the season at the Milford Invitational at Kensington Metropark, Aug. 31.
“I see it as a tune up,” said Clarkston Boys Cross Country Coach Larry Adams, adding the format is unique with each race starts a minute apart. The freshmen wave goes, then the JV wave and last the varsity wave. “However they finish, they finish, so there’s no true team score. It gives the kids a chance to run against somebody else which is always nice. It’s also a course we see later in the season at the county meet and it’s tough. It’s a good challenge for them right off the gate. I like that part of it. I always like going there early in the season seeing where we are at.”
The top seven runners for boys race were: senior Bryce Nowik in tenth place in the time of 17:01.4; junior Jaxson Nowik, 13th, 17:10.3; sophomore Ryan Barnes, 14th, 17:12.7; junior Cayden DeGrendel, 20th, 17:47.2; junior Joshua Ellingsworth, 24th, 17:53.4; senior Matthew Boor, 46th, 18:22; and sophomore Trent Logan, 54th, 18:30.3.
“We were solid up front,” Adams said. “We didn’t race perfect, but the things I knew about us were there and a couple of surprises. A couple of young guys stepped up for us this year – that’s nice to see. They are training with the top group now which is nice as well. Plus, I had two kids at practice ask ‘coach can we train with the top group.’ They are my second half of my varsity and they want to train with the other guys. The motivation is there to get better. I like that as well.”
Kevin Breen, the girls cross country coach, shared he was happy with how his runners performed.
“One of the things I said to all of them before we started racing was it will be a good day if you finish the race and you feel like you could have gone just a little bit faster,” he said. “One of the focuses was going out for the first mile and being under control in that first mile. It allowed the rest of the girls to set up for a more successful race and a more positive experience. We have a fairly young team so it was important we approached the first race maybe a little bit differently than I may have done last year. We lost some major experience when a few graduated. Now we are running with multiple freshmen running varsity times. We have some freshmen who are very promising runners coming up.”
The top seven runners were: senior Anna Reineck in 20th place in the time of 21:38.3; freshman Avery DeGrendel, 25th, 21:45.9; freshman Addison Brigham, 30th, 21:52.1; sophomore Sydney Fischer, 39th, 22:04.9; freshman Kendal Russette, 62nd, 23:01.6; freshman Logan Robison, 71st, 23:15.2; and junior Lily Miles, 98th, 24.22.4.
Breen added senior Alexandra Brigham was out for the race but has been leading the team.
“We have great experience with our senior crew,” he said. “Another senior that really looks to have a great season is Anna. She really had a great race. She moved up the pack the entire race and really had a solid race. She just looked like she could go faster. She looked like she surprised herself with how she ran.”
Breen shared Fischer also had a great race.
“Sidney is coming back from last season as one of our top runners,” he said. “The really promising thing is we had Alex’s sister, Addison, joining the team as a freshman and is already competing with that group as well as Avery DeGrendel, who is Cayden DeGrendel’s younger sister. Adding siblings to the team who know the program, they know what they have to do and with that knowledge they are jumping right in full steam. In the first meet we had four runners who were 20 seconds within each other at the end of the race and they didn’t start at the same time. Kendal and Logan are getting closer to that group. I am just really excited for what this group is going to bring this season.”
While the girls team is young with a lot of freshmen and sophomores, the boys team has a lot of experience coming back. They only had one graduate from last year’s team, which finished in fourth place at the MHSAA Division 1 Boys Cross Country State Finals.
“They got a taste of what it means to be a top five team in the state,” Adams said. “They liked that and they want to improve on that. We have team goals winning a league championship, we would like to win the county championship if we can we finished second last year, and win the regional.”
He added strong teams will be at the regional meet including Troy, Rochester and Oxford.
“It will be a tough regional,” Adams said. “Being the host we want to win the regional or at least be top three. Whatever happens on state finals day if we get there, happens. We are training towards that and there is enough experience they know what it takes to do that. They have learned from the first experience last year. They know they want to be better. We are going to win because we are going to be close together. We have the pack mentality. We are going to be successful that way. They run together, they train together on the weekends. They understand what it takes. They had a good summer training.”
The Wolves opened the week at the first OAA Red Jamboree at Lake Orion on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a good challenge because Troy is there,” Adams said. “Troy had a good group last year just like we did as well. It’s going to be a good test for us because they are tough. We’re going to have to match up well against them. With a smaller meet, it really becomes important because there’s 60 kids in the race and so one place here and there can make a difference.
“The OAA Red is tough. I like the challenge of being able to match up with your competition and seeing them and being around them in the smaller race and say here is where I am at and this is the color jersey I need to beat. Can I do it? It will be a good test for them,” he added. “I like our chances but I also want to make sure we keep taking steps forward.”
“Our goal is we get our feet underneath us,” Breen said. “We need to accept challenges and work on the mental side of things. We had Oxford at the meet the other day. They were quite a few points ahead of us, but in the grand scheme of things that isn’t a whole lot when we have our whole group and Alex back. We should be seeing a little bit of growth and growing faster than other teams in the league. I feel very confident with the talent we have on our team it’s going to be very competitive by the end of the season.”
The Wolves compete in the Autumn Classic at Stony Creek Metropark this Saturday. The varsity runners head to the Jackson Invitational, Sept. 23.
By Wendi Reardon Price