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Spartan Invitational

Friday, Sept. 12, 2008
Forest Akers East Golf Course, East Lansing MI

DyeStat onsite with SteveU and Pat Davey

Super girls elite field will battle on new course, possibly in rain

Meet Preview by SteveU

As always, the Spartan Invitational will feature some of the state’s top teams and continue its status as one of the state’s top three in-season meets.  But this year, it has outdone itself in the girls field.

The Nike Elite race for girls will feature nine of the top 11 teams in the latest Michigan D-1 rankings, including the state’s two Midwest-ranked squads, #6 Traverse City Central and #7 Rochester Adams.  The teams are 1-2 in the Michigan rankings after Central topped Adams in Adams’ own invite recently.  MI#7 and defending meet and D1 state champ Rochester is also in the field, as is Michigan-ranked #4 Saline, #5 Rockford, #6 Brighton, #8 Troy, and two of the teams tied for 10th in Grand Blanc and Livonia Churchill.

The field also represents seven of the top nine teams from last fall’s D1 state meet.  Entrants in this division are not limited to D1 teams, of course.  Michigan’s top-ranked D2 team, Grand Rapids Christian, is here, too, plus three more ranked teams from D2 and one from D4.

Individually, many of those who finished high both here and at the D1 and D2 state meets are featured.  Cally Macumber leads Adams; she was 3rd here last fall and 3rd in the D1 state meet.  Jennifer Snelgrove of Grand Ledge, 2nd here last fall, returns, as do six more for 2007’s top ten here.  Also sure to be among the leaders is Grand Blanc’s Gabrielle Anzalone.  She and her team were not in this meet last year, but she was 4th in the D1 meet and 2nd in last spring’s D1 state 3200.

From the D2 powers entered, watch for East Lansing’s Maddie Reeves, 2nd in D2 last year, Williamston’s Emma Drenth (4th in D3), and Grand Rapids Christian’s Alyssa Penning (5th in D2).

All in all, it’s a girls field that probably only Portage can hope to top on the girls side in this fall’s Michigan invitational season.

The boys Nike Elite race isn’t quite as strong, but includes Saline, tied for first in the Michigan rankings, and five others from the D1 top ten.  Saline was 2nd in the state D1 race last fall.  MI#6 Pinckney is also here; they’ve ruled here and in the D1 state meet the last three years, but suffered heavy graduation losses; still, they are not to be ignored. 

Also in the boys field is D2 top-ranked Linden, D3 MI#2 Shepherd, and D4 #3 Saugatuck

Individually, again, the depth of the girls field is not there and the state and Spartan meet fields were top-heavy with seniors last year.  Five athletes from this race’s top 15 from last year return, including Pablo Ruiz and Jon Hurrell of Bay City Western (8th and 12th), Strongsville OH’s Colby Alexander (10th), Pinckney’s Matt Wines (11th) and Saline’s Brian Conn (13th). 

From other divisions, Linden’s Brad Ferrara, Saugatuck’s Christian Birky, and Shepherd’s Tyler Noble are among those that bear watching.

The meet also features “Green” and “White” divisions, comprising larger and smaller schools not in the Nike Elite races.  There are also collegiate and middle-school races during the day.  All of the race layouts over the Forest Akers East Golf Course on Michigan State’s campus will be new this year, with an attempt to make starting and finishing areas less congested and offer spectators a better view of the finish.  A substantial threat of rain was in the forecast for Friday.

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