CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW: Expectations Lofty as All 7 Saline State Meet Runners Return
When you finish in the top five at the state meet and return all seven runners - expectations are bound to be high.
“It’s a unique situation. We had a strong season and we graduated no varsity members. So we have high expectations,” Coach girls cross country coach Eileen Creutz said. “We want to improve upon our fifth place at the state meet last year.”
The Saline girls’ cross country team’s “Nike Team” will challenge to run in the top meets. In front are Lydia Alig, Corynn Gady, Mara McClellan, Abigail Roth, Grace Roth, Tessa Myers, Bailey Burt, Sienna Snyder, Laney Alig, Claire Endres and Madison Wood. In back are Mia Rogan, Aubrey Stager, Cora Conley, Madison Rogan, Carrie Schwartz, Taylor Wetherbee, Maekayla Rice, Rebecca Rummel,Mackenzie Sellenraad, and Madison Stern.
Saline’s top returners are led by senior Lydia Alig, who was the fastest Hornet at Michigan International Speedway. Alig finished 28th to earn All-State honors. Alig had a great junior year. In track and field she was on the all-state 4-by-800 relay team and also set a PR in the mile.
“She’s just been a really consistent performer for us, which is really important for cross country,” Creutz said. “She’s got really good speed and is a great finisher.
Senior Madison Wood finished 54th last year. As a sophomore, Wood blazed to a fourth-place finish at the state meet. Senior Madison Stern was 65th at the state meet. She started her senior year by winning the three-mile time trials last week.
Junior Aubrey Stager was 81st at the state meet and sophomore Laney Alig was 135th to complete the Hornet scoring.
Laney’s also had a strong off-season.
“She’s doing really well for us and is very consistent,” Creutz said. “She pushes everyone to be their best at practice.”
Senior Claire Endres and sophomore Lucy Woehlke also ran for the Hornets at MIS.
In addition to the strong returning class, the Hornets are welcoming a fast freshman class.
“We have an embarrassment of riches in our freshman class right now. We think this is going to help us right away,” Creutz said.
Freshmen Mackenzie Sellenraad and Sienna Snyder have shown great promise in workouts. Abby and Grace Roth, Corynn Gady and Cora Conley are also running with the top group.
“I think with some experience and miles on their legs they could really impact us this season,” Creutz said
Junior Mia Rogan, who had a great track season running the 400 and 800, is also out for cross country this year and showing promise.
“She did an amazing job for us this summer,” Creutz said.
One of the obstacles Saline will face this year is their rival - Pioneer High School. Last year, Saline pulled off an upset at the SEC Red meet at Indian Creek Park, defeating Pioneer by four points. Pioneer placed girls in first and third. Saline’s top girl, Lydia Alig, placed fifth. But after Alig, four of the next five girls over the finish line were from Saline, and the Hornets won the meet for the first time in years.
Pioneer, however, went on to win the regional and then won the state meet. The Pioneers are strong again this year. Creutz thinks that will make Saline a better team.
“We’ve got the two-time state champions down the road and we race them quite a bit. So we’re able to measure-up early in the season,” Creutz said.
There are 60 girls in the program this year. Many won’t make headlines or run in the big races. But they all play an important role on the team, Creutz said.
“They’re part of maintaining a good culture. One of the reasons this team has been successful is because our JV and varsity teams are close. They do things together. They work out together,” Creutz said. “They care about representing their team and that reflects in their performance.”
The team has several captains this year. They are Madison Stern, Madison Wood, Claire Endres, Lydia Alig, Maekayla Rice, Karis Schreck, Breana Austin and Angie Ling. The captains fulfill many roles. One captain focuses on clothing orders, another focuses on the pen pal program, another focuses on building up camp, another is concerned with volunteering and outreach.
“We’ve elected more captains and given them more specific roles so we can develop important parts of our program,” Creutz said. “Our seniors have really done a great job with leadership.”