Thanks to some pandemic-related training slowdowns and some nagging injuries, the Roosevelt boys cross country team finds itself a little behind its normal pace at this time of the year.
“We’ve had a bit of a slow start,” said coach Jordan Thackery. “Summer conditioning was a little tough. The kids did not know what was going on. We did not know if there was even going to be a season and it was tough to motivate when they didn’t even know if they’d get to compete.”
That led to a couple of stumbles in the Bears’ first meets as they fell to a strong Woodhaven team and then lost a one-point heartbreaker to Southgate Anderson. Roosevelt beat Dearborn Edsel Ford handily, but the T-Birds only had four runners, so they did not score.
In a nod to the COVID pandemic, the Downriver League has scrapped its usual Jamboree style schedule and gone back to an old-school dual-meet format with just two teams facing off against each other. Boys teams arrive before girls and leave before the girls race starts to keep interaction at a minimum.
Thackery said the change in format has caused some difficulties, too.
“Usually at a meet, there are a lot of runners at the starting line and the energy is really high and the kids feed off of that,” he said. “At these dual meets, there are far fewer kids and I’ve told out guys, ‘you have to get that energy up by yourselves.’”
One runner who has gotten off to a hot start for the Bears is sophomore Michael Makuch. Makuch, who was the team’s consistent No. 3 man last year, has won each of the three races the Bears have competed in this season and against Edsel he broke out a super sub-18-minute time of 17:31. That was 35 seconds faster than his next closest competitor and 24 seconds faster than his previous best time this season.
Makuch won against Southgate with a time of 18:03 and against Woodhaven with a time of 17:55. All three of those races were run at Riverview’s Young Patriots Park.
“Michael had a lot of injuries last year,” said Thackery. “But he has been running strong this season. He is a very coachable kid and he is looking to run with the league’s top guys this year. So far, he is doing it.”
Thackeray said his team will get a boost when a returning injured runner returns and a further boost when returning all-league senior Sam Rankine gets back into top condition.
Rankine scored in all three meets for the Bears, running second to Makuch against both Southgate and Edsel Ford. Against Ford, he got his time down to a season-best 18:04.
Girls team hitting its stride
After falling in its season-opening meet against powerful Woodhaven, the Roosevelt girls – led by Samantha Cost – bounced back for easy wins over Southgate and Edsel Ford.
Cost, who was fourth against Woodhaven behind two Woodhacven runners and teammate Amy Migoski, rallied to take top honors against both Southgate and Edsel.
Cost’s top time so far this season has been 20:38.
The Roosevelt boys and girls face dual meets with league rivals Allen Park, Lincoln Park and Trenton before a potential All-Downriver League meet.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association allows a maximum of 70 runners in a cross country race, so the league is hopeful of having a league meet, but a date has not been officially set. Of course any further Executive Orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office could change that.