Lumberjacks hope to keep improving after solid start

Courtesy Photo The 2023 Alpena Community College cross country team includes from left to right: front row: Matt Wilbert, Ben Purat, Jacob Kochanski, Calvin Hibbler, and Eli ‘Chip’ Allen; back: coach Mark Jacobs, assistant coach Chef Kaniszewski, Ty Kailing, Colin Sheahan and assistant coach Duncan Ross. Missing from the photo are Matt Mundy and assistant coach Mikayla Oliver.

ALPENA — With a solid start to the year, the Alpena Community College cross country team hopes the 2023 season will be a special one.

“Overall, the season is going well. We are exactly where we need to be at this point,” ACC coach Mark Jacobs said. “Our guys are working hard and embracing the practice schedule. If we can stay injury free and improve daily, this should be a season to remember.”

Jacobs’ teams traditionally hold themselves to a high standard on and off the course and this group of Lumberjacks is no different. ACC hopes to earn academic all-American for the ninth straight season in the classroom and keep improving with each race.

On the course, Jacobs is aiming to get his top three runners finishing in under 29 minutes and his next three runners under 30 minutes. With a group that includes three returning sophomores and four freshmen in mix, Jacobs thinks it can happen.

During this past weekend’s GRCC Raider Invite in Grand Rapids, six ACC runners ran season best times by an average of more than a minute per runner. All six runners finished in under 33 minutes, including two times under 30 minutes.

We have the talent to do this and even more,” Jacobs said. “If we achieve these times, we will be in the thick of things during our conference meets. We need to really focus on getting the right amount of rest, eating healthy and staying hydrated.”

Alpena’s returning runners this season include Matt Wilbert (Rogers City) who has been one of ACC’s most consistent runners. Jacob Kochanski (Alpena) also returns for the Lumberjacks and so does Matt Mundy (Sault Ste. Marie) who is getting back into peak shape after being off this summer.

ACC’s fourth sophomore is former Wayne State University runner Colin Sheahan, who has impressed Jacobs with his work ethic and has already turned in some solid times this season.

Alpena’s quartet of freshman has also been exciting for Jacobs to watch this season.

“Eli “Chip” Allen (Alpena) is incredibly focused on getting everything out of each workout and each race,” Jacobs said. “He’ll be one of our top runners in the record book at ACC when it’s all said and done.”

A former state finals qualifier for the Wildcats, Allen has adapted to college running with seeming ease. Last weekend in Grand Rapids, Allen turned in the 15th fastest time in school history in just his second collegiate race.

Ty Kailing (Reed City) and Calvin Hibbler (Livonia) fit the mold of runners Jacobs likes on his teams: Hard working, coachable and also looking to improve. The same is true of Benedikt Purat (Novi) who has never run before and has a huge upside with potential to break into ACC’s top five by the end of the season, according to Jacobs.

“This has been a fun group of guys to coach, and it will be exciting to watch them grow and improve,” Jacobs said.

ACC’s remaining schedule includes the St. Clair Skippers Invite on Sept. 29, the Ancilla (IN) Invitational on Oct. 14 and the NJCAA Regionals/MCCAA Conference meet (Grand Rapids) on Oct. 27.


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