The goals remain the same

Lumberjacks focused on continued growth of XC program

Courtesy Photo The 2018 Alpena Community Cross Country team includes from left to right: coach Mark Jacobs, Cam DeCaire, Dallin Toth, Caleb Burger, Mason Kaniszewski, Tylor Ross, Aidan Francis and John Siegert.

Once again, Alpena Community College cross country coach Mark Jacobs is blessed with another talented group of runners.

The goals and expectations in 2018 are similar to what they have been the past few years.

The first and most important expectation for Jacobs and his Lumberjacks is to make sure the team becomes an Academic All-American team for the fourth year in a row.

The second is to continue becoming more competitive and with the team Jacobs has this year, it shouldn’t be an issue as the Lumberjacks possess a handful of talented runners ready to make an impact.

“I’m blessed with another great group of guys. These guys get along, they care about each other, help each other, they do things together and that’s the key to any team. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year and I’m really looking forward to it,” Jacobs said.

Dallin Toth (Alpena) is the lone returner and will captain this year’s team. Toth has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field as a leader.

Cam DeCaire (Alpena) is a sophomore, but is a new runner as he will join the Lumberjacks cross country team for the first time after playing basketball for ACC last year. Jacobs is familiar with both Toth and DeCaire as he has spent time coaching them in some way since middle school.

The team is made up of five other freshman.

Tylor Ross (Fairview) is also a dual sport athlete. Ross is a gifted runner who finished fourth in the state last year in Division 4 and will be a huge part of the program’s success over the next two years.

Along with Ross, John Siegert (Ludington) will likely be among the top runners this season for the Lumberjacks. Siegert is talented and Jacobs fully believes he got a steal getting Siegert and believes Siegert could easily be running at a higher level.

Mason Kaniszewski (Tawas) has really come along during the summer and is understanding what it is like to be apart of a collegiate team.

Caleb Burger (Alpena) has also made huge strides after making a transition from playing soccer in high school to now running cross country for the Lumberjacks.

Aidan Francis (Memphis) has been chomping at the bit to get out and run and will make an impact and be among the team’s top runners this season.

“I’m going to push this team harder than any team I’ve ever pushed because of the talent level. I don’t believe I’ve had a team as talented, one through seven, than this team and it’s going to be a fun year,” Jacobs said. “I believe we will be close to being one of the best teams we’ve had here. It will all tell during the season if we avoid injuries. If these kids reach their talent level it could be special and I told them I’m going to push them harder than I’ve ever pushed a team and they’ve flourished throughout the offseason and if I was a betting man, I’d say they’re as talented as any team I’ve ever had and could be more talented, it just depends on how the season goes, who steps up and we’ll see when we’re on the course, but I have faith in this group.”

This group of Lumberjack runners seems to be the perfect mix to have a successful season. They are all familiar with one another, many come from small town schools and all are determined to work hard and have bought into what Jacobs has done and is continuing to do with the ACC cross country program.

The Lumberjacks begin their season Saturday at Ferris State University and will also compete at Michigan State University, Kirtland Community College, Lansing Community College and Muskegon Community College as they prepare for regionals which will be held in Lansing.

“I have pretty high expectations and I’m pretty demanding, but these kids know it. Not only am I confident this team is going to perform well on the field, but they will excel in the classroom as well,” Jacobs said. “At this point it’s a given. I would be surprised if we can’t continue the academic All-American tradition and they understand that. I’m fortunate enough to recruit these kids who get it. Our expectations are high and we’re ready to get the season started.”

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.