BY DAN STICKRADT
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Jeff Devantier has a problem that most cross country coaches would love to have: Depth.
Devantier, the veteran head coach at Birmingham Seaholm, has watched his depth-laden girls cross-country squad shine at several big meets this season. Incredible depth is more like it.
The latest dominant performance came Monday at Stoney Creek Metropark, where the Maples showcased another eye-popping performance.
Seaholm landed six runners in the top 10 in the varsity race and even had runners in the junior varsity race post far better efforts than varsity runners from opposing schools on the brisk, fall day. The Maples scored 31 points overall to easily outdistance the field.
“We won the first jamboree, the Old Skool Classic, we won both races at the West Bloomfield Invitational, both the small school and large school, and we finished third at the (Michigan State) Spartans Invite. We did that because we had great depth,” offered Devantier, who has some 13 runners currently under 20 minutes and three under 19 minutes and dropping rapidly. “It’s murderers row in terms of who is on the varsity. We have 13-14 girls that are capable of running varsity right now and not everybody can. Nobody wants to run JV so it’s very competitive. It’s a dogfight to see who gets to run varsity.”
Audrey Belf (third), Aubrey Wilberding (fourth), Tess Wilberding (seventh), Marissa Dobry (eighth), Danielle Bentzley (ninth) and Julia Demko (10th) all cracked the top 10 for Seaholm.
Clarkston finished a distant second with 84 points in the talent-laden eight-school field. Rochester Adams was third (104), followed by Troy (116), Oxford (120), Rochester (135), Lake Orion (149) and Rochester Stoney Creek (182).
Meanwhile, Lake Orion won its second straight OAA-Red jamboree race in convincing fashion with 43 points, nearly double than runner-up Clarkston, which collected 82 points. Adams claimed third (112), while Seaholm (112), Rochester (114), Oxford (137), Troy (143) and Stoney Creek (146) followed suit.
Lake Orion’s TJ Carey has not lost a race inside the league in nearly three years and put together another dominating effort, clocking in 15:47 to win going away. The Dragons had six runners inside the top 20.
“We have a lot of depth. We even have guys on our junior varsity that can run in the 17 minutes,” offered Carey. “I think depth is our strength. And I think we are really starting to come together. I think we are a little bit underrated as a team.”
David Diaz was second for Lake Orion (16:28), while David Arenz (11th), Zachary Seikop (13th), Kirk Hansen (16th) and Ted Ryquist (19th) all helped the Dragons cruise.
“We’re a little banged up right now, but we are coming along,” offered Lake Orion coach Stan Ford. “I really like our depth, at least in terms of the league. We had a guy like Zachary Seikop, who was fourth for us today and in the top 15. He’s a first-year varsity runner who keeps getting better and better. We go 1-2 in a race like today and have other kids step up and have great races. That’s how you win.”
Adams’ Stephen Biebelhausen was third (16:32), while Clarkston’s Sam Tanielian was fourth (16:40), Stoney Creek’s Chris Tsivitse (16:45), Rochester’s Blake Pozolo (16:55), Clarkston’s Austin Draving (16:57) and Daniel Billette (16:59) all broke 17 minutes on the windy day.
In the girls race, Oxford’s Brook Kovacic sailed way ahead of the pack to win with an 18:20 clocking. She was 24 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor, Rochester’s Jessica Goethals (18:44).
Seaholm’s Belf (18:46) and Aubrey Wilberding (18:50) and Adams’ Jamie Morrissey (18:59) also broke the 19-minute mark.
“It’s getting past the early part of the season, so everybody is doing really well,” said Kovacic, a three-time All-State runner. “My goal for the past year is to break 18 minutes. Last year I ran 18:03. I just wanted to go out and run my best race today because it was really windy. I am happy with 18:20 because I still have plenty of time to break 18 minutes.”
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