Blue Devils running Strait into new cross country season
SAULT STE. MARIE -- A season of change is already underway for Sault High sports teams.
Sault High's cross country squad begins its first season in the Straits Area Conference, joining Cheboygan, Rudyard, St. Ignace, Newberry, Rogers City, Lincoln Alcona, Cedarville and Pickford in a new league alignment.
The Sault boys will have a new look, as only three of their top seven runners return from last season's team. Senior Walter Bennette, junior Tyler Gage and junior Ryan Gleason were in the team's top seven a year ago and should be again. Among the top newcomers so far is sophomore Stuart Chipman, followed by a number of other runners as competition wages for the top varsity spots.
"I think our 1-2-3 will be tough, however they shape up," said Sault coach Jim Martin, who begins his ninth year. "What will make the difference for us will be 4-5-6-7. We need to develop some depth, and that will probably tell how good we can be."
The Sault boys roster also includes Travis Baril, Andy Castagne, Vishnu Chander, Reid Desrochers, Ty Dettloff, Zach Ewing, David Gleason, Kalvin Hartwig, Gary Herschell, Steve Ignatowski, Chris Knuaf, Devin McGahey, Sean Mulkerns, Adam Pancheri, Ethan Parker, Mike Pluto, Austin Rogers, Todd Theel, and Ian Wilson.
"I have a nice group of kids to work with," Martin said. "However the season turns out, I couldn't be happier about the kids I have this year. We're all excited about the season."
Martin picks Cedarville as the team to beat in the boys' Straits League. Cedarville won the Division 3 U.P. championship last season and has everyone back except its No. 1 runner.
On the girls' side, the Blue Devils return their top seven runners from last season's team, which finished 8th at U.P. Finals.
Among the leading returnees are senior Erin Gordon, junior Lindsey LaLonde, sohpomores Sandra and Stephanie Day, junior Jessica Green, sophomore Brooke Wagner and sophomore Ashley Andrews. Some potential top new runners include Rudyard sophomore transfer Leigh Ann Folkersma and freshman Brittany Ockenfels.
Also on the girls roster are Adrienne Carlson, Katie Chipman, Anna Conboy, Kate Corbiere, Breanna Eby, Katy Fortin, Sarah Mason, Liz McAllister, Wrindy Shann, Sarah Shubert, Jessica Silva, Katy Sullivan, Christina Timchuck and Katie Young.
The Straits League will feature less travelling than the Big North, but should still provide good competition for the Blue Devils. Martin lists Cheboygan as the favorite among girls' conference teams.
"Cheboygan, based on what they should have coming back, should hands down be the favorite," Martin said. "But I'm just going by last year. Every year, things change, and not everyone has the same lineup. We have a lot of friendly rivalries with the Straits teams and we're looking forward to some good races," Martin said.
Sault High is scheduled to host the Straits Conference Finals on Oct. 12. The U.P. Finals will be held at Stephenson again this year.
Sept. 2 -- at West Branch-Ogema Heights Invitational
Sept. 11 -- at Midland, Bullock Creek Invitational
Sept. 14 -- at Cheboygan, SAC Jamboree I
Sept. 18 -- at Newberry, Foxes and Hounds
Sept. 24 -- at Jackson Invitational
Sept. 28 -- at Jackson Invitational
Sept. 28 -- at Rogers City, SAC Jamboree II
Oct. 9 -- Sault Invitational, 1 p.m.
Oct. 12 -- SAC Finals, at Sault Ste. Marie
Oct. 16 -- at Rudyard Invitational
Oct. 23 -- U.P. Finals, at Stephenson