CORUNNA — A lot of things are different for the Corunna boys cross country team.
A talented senior class led by Runner of the Year Ben Jacobs has graduated, giving a new crop of Cavaliers a chance to show their leadership skills.
“Last year, everyone looked to those senior guys,” junior Mason Warner said. “Most of them had been here all four years. Now it’s Evan (Roka), Dillion (Baumchen) and Drew (Nickels) who are our only seniors. Evan’s our No. 1 runner, so everyone looks toward him.”
“We like to make the most of every opportunity,” said Corunna coach Bryan Heid, who is back coaching the boys exclusively after running both the boys and girls programs last year. “We’ve had a couple of seniors who haven’t had the chance to run at the varsity level because the other guys were so good. I’m excited about Drew and Dillion getting that opportunity. It will be a lot of fun watching boys who have been the heart of our program get a chance to shine.”
Corunna had 25 runners last year, but graduation losses left the Cavaliers with 11 to start the season.
That, Heid said, created opportunities.
“We’ve had guys who were working their tails off but weren’t in the top group,” he said. “Now, they’re it. Let’s go. Step up and make the most of the opportunity.”
While Heid is coaching the boys exclusively this season, both Corunna teams work out together.
“It’s nice on race day,” he said. “The more coach (Ashleigh) Percival gets acclimated to coaching the girls, the more I can focus on the guys. Last year, I had to watch four races (two varsity and two junior varsity) back to back. I couldn’t watch the end sometimes because I had to get to the start of the next race to make sure everyone was where they needed to be.”
One spot Heid has no question the Cavaliers will be in November is Michigan International Speedway for the state meet.
“It’s just a matter of whether we finish first or second at the regional,” Heid said. “Powers is a little deeper than us. But we’ll be right there and we’ll definitely be (at MIS) as a team. Evan and Mason will have a god shot at being all-staters. They were part of the state champion (3,200) relay. They’ve been in the big show, and they’ve had success.”
The Cavaliers experienced their first Flint Metro League jamboree last week.
“We were in smaller races (in the Genesee Area Conference),” Heid said. “Then we show up to the Flint Metro meet and you see Linden and Fenton with 40-50 kids on their teams. It looks like an invitational.”
Corunna had a light schedule, with one meet in each of the last two weeks. The Cavaliers will compete in Friday’s Spartan Invitational at Michigan State.
“We’ll see how we do,” Heid said. “We’ll go out there and get an idea of where we’re at and build from there. We haven’t shown all of our cards yet, which is OK.”
Here is a look at area teams:
Coach: Olivia Lake LoFiego (17th season)
Key returnees: Hubert Ash, Andy Daniels, Aydin Gutshall, Elisha Huggins.
Key newcomers: Brandon Brozich, Nick Hormann.
Outlook: The Eagles have a veteran team that’s looking to return to the state meet after finishing 26th last year. Depth could be a concern as Byron has just six runners on the roster.
Coach: Dylan Harrington (fifth season)
Key returnees: Henry Hill, Addison James, Jaden James, Kaden Liebrock, Dakota Sutter.
Key newcomers: Levi Maier, Corbin Walker, Luke Walser.
Outlook: The Indians return their entire roster from last season. The 11-man team is the deepest Chesaning has had in five seasons. Maier, a freshman, already has broken 19 minutes to give the Indians an early boost.
Coach: Bryan Heid.
Key returnees: Dillion Baumchen, Drew Nickels, Evan Roka, Mason Warner.
Key newcomers: Nicholas Strauch, Logan Roka.
Outlook: Evan Roka and Mason Warner get their chance to lead a Corunna team that at the beginning of the season had graduated more runners (14) than it had returning (11). Logan Roka, a freshman, has a shot at breaking 18 minutes by the end of the season. The Cavs are counting on Nickels and Baumchen to step up as seniors. Junior Calvin Cody is in the mix as well. Earning a spot at the state meet shouldn’t be a problem.
Coach: Joe Whitman
Key returners: Ben Nebo, Brandon Putnam.
Key newcomers: Austin Frizzelle, Kade Frizzelle, Conner LaFave.
Outlook: The Railroaders were boosted by the arrivals of the Frizzelles, which gives them enough to field a team. Austin Frizzelle is in his first season, while Kade is back after missing the last two seasons. Kade Frizzelle is off t0 a blazing start, breaking 19 minutes at Laingsburg and running just over 19 minutes in four of his five races this season.
Coach: Shawn Baynes (first season)
Key returners: Caleb Clark, Nolan Gregg, Miguel Ramirez, Tyler Scanlan.
Key newcomers: Sawyer Shastal.
Outlook: With just one senior (Ben Morrill), the Wolfpack is bursting with potential. Its top three runners in terms of times this season all are sophomores, with Shastal fourth. New coach Shawn Baynes should have a lot of fun developing this team, which could be a force in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference in a couple of years.
Coach: Todd Werner
Key returners: Aiden Campbell, Owen Doerner, Chandler Iler, Caleb Rivers, Hizuru Scribner.
Key newcomers: John Gunther.
Outlook: The Orioles have a small, but veteran roster with 1o runners. They’re fast — Rivers has already beaten his best 2018 time. With a 2019 best of 17:22.7, he has a shot at breaking his personal best of 17:05.8. Scribner and Campbell are in the mid-18s. Iler and Doerner have gotten close to 19 minutes already this season, with Doerner establishing a new personal best at the Corunna Invite last month.
Coaches: Greg and Vera Root, Ashley Kuhl
Last year: Second in the MMAC
Key returnees: Carson Hersch, Drew Kohlmann, Thomas Heslip, Aaron Vincke, Jason Weber.
Key newcomers: Ryan Heslip, Cole Yaros.
Outlook: The Hornets already are off to a flying start. Hersch ran a personal best 16:03 Saturday, and Kohlmann is less than 10 seconds away from breaking the PR recorded as a sophomore. Freshmen Ryan Heslip has already broken 19 minutes, and fellow 9th-grader Cole Yaros is just five seconds away from doing the same. That should provide plenty of competition within the team and also give opponents plenty to think about this fall.
Coach: Nick Ekel.
Key returners: Andrew Hall, Coleten Towsley-Wagner, Ben Maynard, Torben Somplatzki.
Key newcomers: Ryan Gavenda, Gage Kvalevog.
Outlook: The Marauders have a young team, with just three seniors. There’s plenty of room for development, with an eye toward maybe contending for the MMAC in a couple of years.
Coach: Chris Bird, 13th season.
Key returnees: Jorden Sowash, Mason Collard, Connor Madsen.
Outlook: Sowash and Collard qualified for the state meet last year and were all-Flint Metro. They, along with Connor Madsen, will captain a team which will have plenty of competition for varsity spots on a weekly basis. Sowash has started well, finishing second at the Flint Metro League jamboree Sept. 4 and third at the Bret Clements Invitational in Bath Saturday.
Coach: Cary Lamb.
Key returnees: Ryan Harris, Ryan O’Neill, Ethan Smith.
Key newcomers: Andrew Pedigo, Jonah Smith
Outlook: O’Neill cracked 17 minutes for the first time last season and is on his way to bettering that in this, his senior season. He’s a favorite to return to the state meet as an individual, as he did last season. O’Neill and Dylan Hunt are the only seniors on this team, which has four juniors and a sophomore in Harris who already has put up the Ramblers’ second-best time this season.