Metro Detroit cross country notes: Northville peaking for postseason

By Scotty Bentley
Special to The Detroit News

The Northville girls cross country team is hitting stride at the perfect time.

“We’ve been running great lately,” head coach Nancy Smith said. “We’ve kind of been hiding under the radar. We knew that we were solid.”

From left to right: Northville's Ella Christensen, Cassie Garcia, Jennie Line and Gina Couyoumjian, warm up.

Northville is led by senior Jenny Line and sophomore Ella Christensen.

“(Christensen) was in my top seven and went to the state meet as a freshman last year,” Smith said. “She had an amazing track season and it’s just progressed into a great cross country season.”

Northville is set with its top four runners, rotating spots five through nine.

“In our JV races that we’ve done, we’ve won every race, and each one has been a different one of our girls,” Smith said.

Northville had an impressive showing in Freeland to end its regular season.

“Our girls ran amazing in the deep mud,” Smith said. “If it was ideal conditions, we would’ve had a lot of personal records and personal bests."

Smith credits assistant coach Erin Baker as being “a big piece to the puzzle and a big part of the success we have had for the past two years.”

Northville head coach Nancy Smith and assistant coach Erin Baker.

Skyline girls surging

Ann Arbor Skyline is another team on the move.

“Our top five is four juniors and a sophomore,” first-year head coach Serena Kessler said. “And our six and seven are a freshman and a sophomore. So we’re really excited about this year, but also for what we can do next year.”

Junior Caroline Vance has paced Skyline. She just ran under 19 minutes for the first time.

Kessler said Vance is motivating her teammates.

“She has really lit a fire under some of our other runners,” Kessler said. “Our girls have been getting faster each meet.”

Kessler’s daughter, Natalie Kessler, as well as Allison Mayer, Annalisa DeGuzman and Lydia Cocciolone have been performing well.

“We’re a bit of an underdog and I think we’ve surprised some people," Kessler said. "I think we’ll continue to surprise people heading into championship season.”

Saline girls staying power

Experience is paying dividends for Saline. With some fresh talent pitching in.

"This team has every single member from the varsity last year returning. “And we also gained a very talented freshman class.” head coach Eileen Creutz said.

Madison Stern is having a breakthrough year, according to Creutz.

“She had never dipped into the eighteens (minutes) before this year, and now has run four or five races in the eighteens. That consistency has been a really big step for us,” Creutz said.

Senior Madison Wood is another vital contributor. She runs between 19 minutes and 19:20.

“And she does it consistently in any condition," Creutz said.  "Flat grass course, or a course covered in mud and six inches underwater. That consistency has been important.”

Creutz appreciates her team's consistency.

“We have a strong pack," she said. "We may have five in before any other team. For us it’s getting the pack in.”

Brighton boys building

Brighton is making a strong push going into the postseason.

Seniors Quinn Cullen and Lucas Seng as well as junior Tyler Langley had impressive efforts last weekend and look to continue momentum.

Coach Chris Elsey is excited by the progress.

“We’ve had some really competitive meets lately,” he said. “We’ve had some success.”

On course

Regionals begin Oct. 29. ...

The Ann Arbor Pioneer boys are looking to make their mark. Senior Owen Johnson has been impressive. ...

Northville and Lake Orion are also looking to catch Brighton and Caledonia Boys.

Scotty Bentley is a freelance writer.