By Hank Minckiewincz
The Southgate Anderson boys cross country team finished second to league champion Woodhaven in the Downriver League chase last fall, so it figures that that distance team would be the strength of the track team this spring.
And it is, but don’t count the Titans out as a one-trick pony.
Veteran coach Sam Childs welcomed 43 athletes out for his team this year and there is talent in many places.
“I think we are a pretty balanced team,” said Childs, who has been around the Southgate program in one form or another for 17 years. “We have the distance guys, but we have some good sprinters, too.”
The distance team is headed by the top four cross country guys – senior Connor Gotzfried, juniors Terry Towell and Brendon Buckner and sophomore Steven Porter.
Childs said this a versatile group that can run anything from the 800 to the two-mile, although he admitted that Porter is the “truest distance runner” on the squad.
The team is also hoping from some distance help from Ezekiel Centeno, who was often a scorer during the cross country season.
“This is a real strong group,” said Childs. “These guys can run anywhere from the 800 to the two-mile and still be ready to give a leg on a relay team.”
When it comes to sprinting, the Titans have two runners who are ahead of the pack – Matthew Thomas and Samori Dobson.
Dobson, a senior, has had an injury filled high school career and Childs said that has, “held him back.” But now that he is healthy, the Titans are looking for big things in his final year in burgundy and silver.
Thomas is a junior and Childs said he is, “a pretty polished runner.” Thomas’ older brother Christian is still a school record-holder as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team and that motivates Matthew, according to his coach.
The jury is still out on the team’s inexperienced throwers, but Childs said junior Noah Szostek brings a boatload of spirit and intensity to the group.
And that brings us to sophomore Connor Augenstein, who Childs said may be the best athlete in the program. The 10th-grader, who ran cross country, is a versatile kid who is getting a look in the hurdles and in the pole vault.
The rest of this year’s Titan team is, Nathaniel Batko, Samuelle Bommarito, Brendan Boyer, Charles Butler, Victor Cajigas, Nick Campau, Torian Clemons, Caeden Coffman, Connor Eccleton, John Farmer, Jesse Ferraj, Sean Gardner, Anthony Gutierrez, Alex Jewell, Cameron Jewell, Cortez Johnson, Jacob Keysaer, Spencer Merchant, Gordon Ng, Noah Packwood, Christian Paczkowski, Kirk Phillips, Roger Putnam, Joseph Rodriguez, Adrian Rosas, Andrew Shields, Kaydin Snyder, Logan Southworth and Cordell Wade.
Girls team is small, but talented
After graduating 13 girls from a very strong team last season, the Southgate Titans find themselves with a small and mostly inexperienced team this year.
Childs’ 20-girls roster includes 15 freshmen or sophomores.
“Last year’s team was one of the most decorated on school history,” said Childs. “The distance team, especially, was the envy of almost everyone Downriver.
“They all graduated, so we are young , but we have some good young talent and the girls are very dedicated; I have not had a single girl miss a day of practice this year.”
One eye-popping runner who is back for her senior year is Mikayla Borg, a talented distance runner, who has already signed to run cross country for U-M Dearborn. Childs calls her, “one of the best milers around.”
And she is more than that.
“Mikayla is an outstanding student, a great runner and last fall, she was the homecoming queen – she is the whole package,” said Childs.
Borg’s classmate, Leeah Joswiak, is a motivated athlete who is moving to the 300 hurdles. Childs said last year Joswiak was one of the top 400 runners and that experience will help her in her new event.
Sophomore sprinter Joselyn Raths and freshman sprinter Alivia Ensign have already caught Childs’ eye during early practice and he said the pair, along with his two top seniors, could make a formidable relay squad.
The rest of the 2019 Titans girls squad is, Miriam Alaouie, Riley Angileri, McKenna Freitas, Jordan Hunt, Kaitlyn Jacques, Jennifer Lemus, Trinity Mayhew, Jazlynn McCoy, Kayla Mihalyfi, Delaney Minutolo, Natalie Packwood, Maggie Stanley, Kaley Taylor, Cheyanne Tyson and Kaitlyn Valrie.
The Titan teams were at the Huron Relays on March 22 and they will open the Downriver league dual meet season on March 26 against Taylor.