By: John Raffel
MLS cross country team out for another strong season
By John Raffel
Michigan Lutheran Seminary cross country coach Seth LeBair has high hopes for another strong cross country season.
“Last year our girls team qualified for the state meet with a second-place finish in our region,” LeBair said. “It was great to see the girls focus on this goal throughout the season. We also had two girls that finished in the top 15 at regionals (Katy Jones and Maddy Misner). Our guys team improved throughout the season. Sophomore Sam Korthals finished ninth in our region and qualified for the state meet.
Our girls team lost quite a bit. Katy Jones, Maddy Misner, Rebecca Rivera and Liz Waldo all ran for our varsity team last year. The guys team also lost key contributors in Carson Solomon, Matt Emmendorfer, Conor Kopp and Evan Korthals. Carson and Matt both were consistently in our top five.
“This year our guys team returns four guys that ran a lot of varsity of races. Junior Sam Korthals was our MVP last season and earned second team all-conference. Seniors Dan Buth and Elijah Stiefel (honorable mention all conference) were almost always in our top five. We also have sophomore John Richards returning. We have a few returners that will have to step up as well as five new freshman on the guys team.”
Senior Celina Walker is key returnee for the girls.
“She has been a fixture on the varsity the past few years,” LeBair said. “Sophomore Madison Martin made some huge strides last year and ended up being our fifth runner on our state qualifying team. Junior Paige Schultz is also back after cracking the varsity team for part of the year. Freshman Autumn Wakefield has shown a lot of potential but this is her first year running cross country.
“I'm hoping that both teams can be near the middle of the conference but that's going to be tough with teams like Ithaca, St. Louis, Bullock Creek and Hemlock. Most of the teams in our conference are in Division 3 so we get some good competition before we get to regionals. Last year our girls finished fifth in our conference but were able to get second at the regional meet.”
LeBair has been happy with turnouts.
“Our team has had great numbers the past seven to eight years,” LeBair said. “Last year we had 38 kids on the team from a school of about 190. We should be in the low 30's this year and that gives us pretty good depth. The team has been really close the past few years and that makes the season enjoyable.
“We have a lot of holes to fill from last year's seniors but that's true with a lot of teams. It's really hard to tell what to expect from our new runners because they come from so many different places. Almost all of our new runners don't even really know what cross country is until they get to MLS. We don't run excessively long distances at practice because most of our runners aren't ready for that. It's always great to see the improvements throughout the season.”