Depth will be key for LHS cross country
The names most frequently read in Lansing High cross country stories this season were those of freshmen Lauren Jaqua, Abbey Lozenski and Brandon Craig.
There is a good chance those names will be mainstays in print for the next three years considering all three competed at the Class 5A state meet in their first year.
The three give Lansing cross country a distinctly young face, but if LHS is going to ascend the state rankings then the new kids on the block will need a supporting cast to help them.
It appears both the boys and girls are on the verge of having that happen. This season was a major growth phase for both teams, so 2007 could be the breakthrough year for both squads.
"I can't wait until next year," Craig said. "I think we're going to do way better."
The boys already are stocked with depth, but injuries took their toll on the squad throughout the season and derailed a season that began with lots of promise. Junior Jim Mayes went down with an injury midway through the season and never returned. Junior Griffin Davis battled minor injuries throughout the season, and sophomore Wes Appleget ran through an early-season knee injury.
All but one runner - senior Brandon Mills - will be back in 2007, as will a handful of newcomers that are expected to make an immediate impact. The returning varsity core will be Craig, Davis, Appleget, Mayes, Matt McCurry, Greg Bremser, Trenton Dorf and Joe Bagby.
Junior Russell Buchanan and sophomores Michael Hornick, A.J. Glowacki and Alex Twitchell will provide added depth.
Coach Errol Logue said Jaqua and Lozenski give the LHS girls a solid nucleus for the next three years.
"They'll be the girls you build around," he said. "They'll be the leaders next year. They've already said they want to go down to the middle school and get some kids (to run with them)."
In addition to the new faces expected to join the program in 2007, the Lions will return their most experienced squad in years. The only female runner with cross country experience prior to this season was senior Lori Flippo. Everybody else was new. Losing Flippo will be big - Logue describes her as an "invaluable" leader who was "the glue" that helped Jaqua and Lozenski improve throughout the season - but the rest of the roster will be back.
Junior Sandy Collier and sophomores Amanda Mitchell, Andrea Shanks and Emilee Taylor rounded out the varsity lineup most of the season. Sophomores Mallory Barnhouse and McKenna Hall also made big improvements despite battling injuries. Although the others didn't command the spotlight like the freshmen did, they knocked off significant chunks of time by the end of the season. They could be the group that determines if the Lions send a full squad to state next year.
"I admire all of them," Lozenski said. "They worked really hard to improve. If we just get a couple more girls to go with them and everybody keeps working at it, we have a potential state team next year."