After a brief break, we're back with the All-Decade teams. This week we're introducing candidates for both the girls and boys cross country squads.
We've been introducing possible All-Decade teams all fall, and you can check out any of them so far by clicking the links at the bottom of this post. Those lists, along with your input, will be combined for the final All-Decade teams, which we will publish in January. We'll come out with our final ones -- girls swimming and diving, boys soccer, volleyball and football -- over the rest of December.
Here's what I've got so far for cross country:
Emma Drenth, Williamston (Will graduate 2010): This fall’s LSJ Runner of the Year finished second at the Greater Lansing Invitational after winning it as a junior, and broke 18:29 in each of the last two seasons. She finished at least eighth at all four of her state finals, including fifth the last two in Division 2.
Jennifer Snelgrove, Grand Ledge (2010): Ran 18:42 or better all four seasons, with a best of 18:03 as a sophomore. Twice she posted top-16 state finishes in Division 1.
Maddi Reeves, East Lansing (2008): Finished among the area’s fastest her final three seasons despite battling injury as a senior. As a junior she ran 17:51 and won the Greater Lansing Invitational.
Allison Rademacher, Grand Ledge (2008, now at Eastern Michigan): Made all-state as both a senior and sophomore, running 18:01 her final season when she won her regional and finished third at Greater Lansing.
Emily Langenberg, Grand Ledge (2007, Michigan State): Ran at least 18:40 all four years of high school, with a best of 17:49 as a junior. She won the Greater Lansing Invitational as a freshman, sophomore and senior.
Danielle Dakroub, Okemos (2007, Central Michigan): Almost identical but just a tad behind Langenberg three years, Dakroub ran at least 18:48 all four years with a best of 17:46 as a junior – when she won Greater Lansing.
Missy Darling, Holt (2006, CMU): Broke 18:45 as both a sophomore and a senior, when her 18:01 was a career best and she finished third at the Greater Lansing Invitational. She won it as a freshman.
Also in the conversation:
Amaya Ayers, Laingsburg (2010): Ayers finished her career strong by running a best of 18:29 this fall and edging Drenth for the Greater Lansing Invitational championship.
Melinda Palinkas, Saranac (2010): Her best time of 18:32 came as a sophomore. But Palinkas earned all-state honors all four years of high school and took third in Division 4 this fall.
Allie Pugh, Okemos (2007, North Georgia): Her 18:24 as a junior in 2005 was one of the area’s fastest times of the decade. She took fourth at the Greater Lansing Invitational that season and made the LSJ Dream Team three times.
Kelly Robinson, Holt (2004, Air Force): Robinson ran only one season because she also was a standout swimmer, but posted a time of 18:32 as a junior.
Megan Newton, East Lansing (2003, CMU): Newton’s lowest time (18:41) may not be among the best of the decade, but she won four league titles, was all-state four times, won Greater Lansing twice and won LSJ Runner of the Year as both a junior and senior.
Maverick Darling, Ovid-Elsie (Graduated 2008, now at Wisconsin): Was the only area runner to break 15 minutes this decade, posting a 14:52 as a senior. He won the Division 3 state championship his final three seasons.
Matt Lutzke, Williamston (2008, Central Michigan): Ranked among the area’s best breaking 16 minutes in each of his final three seasons, with a best of 15:36. He was Division 3 state runner-up to Darling all three of those seasons.
Riak Mabil, Grand Ledge and Charlotte (2005, CMU): Also ranked among the area’s fastest, breaking 16 in all of his final three seasons, with a best of 15:41. He took fifth in Division 1 as a senior for his third-straight top-16 finish.
David Bills, Williamston (2004, Michigan State): Posted the area’s fastest times in each of his final two seasons, including a 15:27 as a senior. He was Division 3 runner-up that fall after winning the title as a junior.
Liam Boylan-Pett, Bath (2004, Columbia): Ran a 15:35 as a senior to rank among the area’s best this decade and win that Greater Lansing Invitational. He finished second in Division 4 as a senior and won the state title as a junior.
Jason Stover, Williamston (2001, Michigan): Ran the area’s second-fastest time of the decade, 15:24, to win the Division 3 state championship as a senior. He improved from 36th to 18th to first in his final three seasons.
Will Boylan-Pett, Bath (2001, Columbia): Ran the area’s second-fastest time of 15:42 as a senior, when he won the Division 4 state title. He finished 19th and 34th the two seasons before that.
Also in the conversation:
Ian Hancke, Haslett (2010): Broke 16 minutes in each of his final two seasons and was the area’s fastest this fall at 15:47, which he ran to finish first at the Greater Lansing Invitational.
Dan Nix, Williamston (2008, Army): Ranked among the area’s fastest of the decade with a 15:41 as a senior. He finished among the top 13 in Division 3 three times with a high of fifth place.
Garrett Lacy, Carson City-Crystal (2008, Alma College): Ran a 15:42 as a senior, when he finished 13th at the Division 3 state final. He was 16th the season before.
Mitchell Hoffman, St. Johns (2006, Aquinas): Ran a 15:38 – the area’s fastest state-meet time in 2005, and one of the fastest of the decade overall – to take sixth in Division 2.
Doug Richards, Ionia (2006): Richards ran as fast as 15:33 as a senior and broke 16 in each of his final two seasons although a leg injury might’ve prevented him from greater heights.
And the coaches: A number of strong coaches have helped make mid-Michigan an excellent area for running. We’ll lean at this point toward longtime Williamston boys coach Paul Nilsson and longtime East Lansing girls coach Bob Brown. Before retiring after 2008, Nilsson led the Hornets to three Division 3 state titles and three runner-up finishes this decade, along with three Greater Lansing titles since 2004. Brown’s Trojans streak of seven straight state finals is second only to the Williamston boys’ of 12 and has included five top-five Division 2 finishes. Also in the conversation: A lot of people. Grand Ledge’s Kim Spalsbury and Okemos’ John Quiring are legends around here, and Williamston’s Paula Mauer-Westbrook, Ionia’s Chris Young, Lansing Catholic’s Tim Simpson, Potterville’s Dan Brunk, St. Johns’ Bob Sackrider and Bath’s Mel Comeau are among a long list of coaches who have accomplished great things over a few decades.
Other All-Decade blogs so far: