(Katelyn Hutchinson, left, and Rachel Mathers, right, lead D3 Power Shepherd)
We kick off a new series, XC Scouting Reports, where we look at top teams from across the state as they prepare for the 2015 XC Season. We begin our series with Division 3 squad Shepherd Girls who was second a year ago at the state meet.
Division : D3
2014 State Place: 2nd
Coach: Carey Hammel
Top Returnees from 2014 XC Season (5K Times)
|1) Katelyn Hutchinson||19:20.30|
|2) Rachel Mathers||20:09.80|
|3) Kylie Hutchinson||20:20.00|
|4) Sarah Bellinger||20:44.50|
|5) Katie Powell||21:12.30|
|Average Time: 20:21.38 Total Time: 1:41:46.90 1-5 Split: 1:52.00|
|6) Haley Buckley||22:21.02|
|7) Rivers Mcneel||22:23.84|
Top Returning 3200m Times from 2015 Outdoor Season
|1) Kylie Hutchinson||12:23.27|
|2) Katie Powell||13:25.91|
|3) Haley Buckley||14:09.08|
|4) Grace Sponseller||14:26.90|
|Average Time: 13:36.29 Total Time: 54:25.16 1-4 Split: 2:03.63|
Top Returning 1600m Times from 2015 Outdoor Season
|1) Kylie Hutchinson||5:37.73|
|2) Katie Powell||5:52.55|
|3) Katelyn Hutchinson||5:54.40|
|4) Rachel Mathers||6:07.57|
|Average Time: 5:53.06 Total Time: 23:32.25 1-4 Split: 29.84|
|5) Katie Hartupee-Malett||6:25.91|
|6) Haley Buckley||6:29.71|
|7) Grace Sponseller||6:32.90|
Q&A With Coach Hammel
Milesplit MI: What are the goals for your team this season?
Coach Hammel: Our biggest goals this year are to be healthy, competitive and have fun. We want to end the season running our best and obviously make some large improvements throughout the season. It'd be great to be competitive in every meet we enter and we should have a good shot at that.
Milesplit MI: Obviously Shepherd was second last year in D3, what would the difference maker be this year to move up to first place?
Coach Hammel: We need to improve across the board, no one needs to make any huge time drops but if all of our runners knock 20-30 seconds off their bests then we should be very competitive. Our team is very close, motivating and encouraging each other will be a big part of any success we have this season as well.
Milesplit MI: What meets will your team be focusing on this season outside of the state meet?
Coach Hammel: Our first meet at Benzie should be a great test with some very solid teams, then we will look forward to the MSU Spartan Invite and of course the Portage Invitational. We take our conference schedule very seriously as well, the girls have won the TVC Central division the last 5 years and we will certainly look to keep that streak going. We also have an all division TVC meet which should be a great chance to see where we stand next to powerhouse Ithaca.
Milesplit MI: What does summer training look like for Shepherd?
Coach Hammel: We have a very in-formal running club where the kids regularly meet to run together. When kids are in town over the summer they usually attend but if they are away it's not a big deal. We focus just on building up miles and doing some tempos. Our goal coming into the season is to be in good shape and ready to continue to build through the next few months.
Milesplit MI: Do you foresee any impact freshman?
Coach Hammel: Yes, Amber Gall is an incoming freshman who is going to be a big part of our team this year. She has had an outstanding middle school career and is ready to take the next step and compete at the high school level. Haley Hegenauer is also a freshman that we are excited about. We have some other runners that are not freshman but new to XC and we are excited about what they will bring to the table as well.
Milesplit MI: What are some obstacles that you face as one of the smaller schools in the state? How do you overcome these obstacles to build a strong xc program?
Coach Hammel: Since the state meet is in divisions, competing in division 3 we do compete against schools around our size so it isn't a huge issue. But as a smaller school it is always important to get kids out for the team and hope they develop as strong runners and leaders in the school. We've had a history of strong middle school programs and BJ Tomanek has been doing a great job leading those teams the last 3 years. Having the solid program at the lower levels that we do has really helped our numbers as well as having kids that are prepared and ready for High School.
Milesplit MI: You lost your top runner, Taylor Thrush, to graduation. How does that affect the chemistry of the team and how do you deal with losing a top ten runner in D3?
Coach Hammel: Losing Taylor and Abigail Moeggenberg(our #4 runner at the State Meet in 2014) is going to be tough. They were both 4 year runners who have meant a lot to our program and been a part of a lot of success. Taylor had her best XC season last year and was pretty dominant in October and November, she will be running at Lansing Community College this fall, she will be hard to replace but we have a great group of hard working girls that are ready to step up. Our teams the last few years have been incredibly close and had great chemistry and I know that our returning seniors Sarah Bellinger Katie Hartupee, Haley Buckley and Erin Roberson as well as our strong junior class are ready to take over some leadership roles to make sure that continues. The girls have had a great summer are anxious to get official practice started and competing in meets.