Hank Minckiewicz

Most coaches, no matter what sport, love getting off to a hot start. Anderson cross country coach Sam Childs is no exception.

But sometimes it doesn’t happen.

“We’ve been having kind of a hard time getting going,” Childs said. “Some of our guys are not yet where we thought they would be.”

The good thing about cross country, though, is it is not necessarily how you start, it how you finish.

“Our goal – as always – is to be running fast at the end,” said Childs.

One Titan runner who is ahead of schedule is senior Connor Augenstein. Childs said he was hoping Augenstein would be a solid No. 3 man on this year’s team, but he has already exceeded that.

In the team’s first meet of the year, the three-team Maroon Shoe Invitational with Riverview and Gabriel Richard, Augunstein was Anderson’s top runner, finishing seventh. He ran second to a Carlson runner in a dual meet loss to the Marauders and he was fourth as Anderson scored a one-point dual-meet upset over Roosevelt.

He has run the team’s top competitive time this season, 19:09 at the Maroon Shoe.

“I didn’t know Connor would be this good this year, but I can’t say I am surprised because he was just ruling our summer workouts,” said Childs.

Some other familiar names – Steven Porter, Connor Eccleton and Joe Rodriguez, along with Alex Jewell, Tyler Fantow and Noah Packwod – have been among Anderson’s scorers this early season.

Childs said Woodhaven looks like the team top beat in the league this season, something that is a little surprising.

“I thought Wyandotte was going to be the top team,” Childs said, “but the Woodhaven boys did some serious soul-searching or something because they are all really, really fast right now.”

The Southgate girls team is young and a little inexperienced, but Childs said he sees “the seeds of a very, very good team,” among coach Lisa Fast’s squad.

Freshman Grace Buckner is already a force and her best time this season is almost three minutes faster than her next closest teammate.

“She has a good core around her and they will be around her for a couple of years,” said Childs. Only two of the eight girls on the Anderson team this year are seniors.

There is also some help coming from Gerisch, where there are some talented middle schoolers currently competing.

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.

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 set.

Anderson Girls Cross Country

Grace Buckner, Freshman

Lena Hales, Sophomore

Natalie Packwood, Junior

Anysia Correa, Sophomore

Pauline Rosas, Sophomore

Maggie Stanley, Junior

Faith Plummer, Senior

Annalyse Hudson, Senior

Anderson Boys Cross Country

Connor Augenstein, Senior

Steven Porter, Senior

Alex Jewell, Junior

Connor Eccleton, Senior

Joe Rodriguez, Junior

Tyler Fantow, Junior

Noah Packwood, Senior

Kirk Phillips, Senior

Kayden Snyder, Junior

Cameron Jewell, Junior

Dylan Berrios, Freshman

John Manor, Junior

Ian Simons, Junior

Zach Strickland, Freshman

Dominic Manor, Freshman

Nathan Steichen, Junior