They’ll be breaking camp early, and they’ll be thrust into action right away.
Petoskey boys’ cross country coach Keith Henning, now in his third season, and his team will pack up their gear from a brief two-day stay at Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga for their opening meet today, Tuesday, in Cadillac.
Following the opener — and a stop to the Petoskey Big Boy on the return trip home — the Northmen will return to their home course at Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga where they’ll continue their annual camp until Thursday.
“It’s the first time in Petoskey cross country camp history that camp will be interrupted for a race,” Henning said. “It will be a good break from camp. It will allow us to have a better assessment after this race and we’ll see how many really ran this summer.”
The Petoskey boys, who are looking to qualify for the Division II state meet as a team for the first time since 2007, return a solid core including four seniors, Jack Touran, Freddie Liederbach, Spencer Nemecek and Ethan Broman.
“Those seniors will be missed once they leave,” Henning said. “They are all very compliant, very well behaved and they are all very good leaders.”
Henning said Liederbach, who’s older brother, Patrick, was a four-year standout at the University of Detroit-Mercy after a sensational high school career at Petoskey, was selected as the team captain. Liederbach is entering his fourth season on the team, as is Touran, a mainstay in the Northmen lineup who was 17th last season in the Big North Conference and 28th in the Division II regional.
Henning also said sophomores Mark Smith and Caleb Mitchum should make an immediate impact, as should a strong corps of freshmen.
“Our ninth-graders should do really well,” Henning said. “We have a half dozen freshmen that came out and that’s enough for an entire team.
“Some of the kids that were feeling their way out last year are now doing well at practice this year. I expect we’ll be tough. It seems each year we try to get a little bit better.”
On the girls’ side, coach Mikkie Schemanski has 20 athletes on the roster, up a half dozen from a year ago.
“This is a really good group,” Schemanski said. “This group is just primed to break out. Last year was a rebuilding year. We had low numbers and were young, but now that they have a year under their belts, we should be placing this year.”
A pair of seasoned seniors return in Quinn Faylor and Samantha Rajewski, as do juniors Jill Antonishen, Morgan Jons, Kathy Rajewski and Claire Brummeler.
“We have just two seniors, but we’re spread pretty evenly through the rest of the grades,” Schemanski said. “We have three freshmen coming in who are very, very promising.”
That freshmen trio consists of Sarah Goble, Sydney Chambers and Sydney Hopp.
“With our first meet, we should see right away where they all fall into place,” Schemanski said. “We’ve have optional workouts over the summer, and we had great participation. The girls have come to us with a good foundation through the summer workouts.
“I’m just excited.”
The Ramblers have been stung by a common high school bug, graduation.