ESCANABA - The Manistique cross country teams don't appear to be odds-on favorites going into today's Mid-Peninsula Conference meet.
A couple of its runners, however, may be in position to contend for individual titles in the annual league meet which starts at 4 p.m. at the Negaunee Township Hall.
Also joining the host Miners are Gwinn, Ishpeming, Westwood and Norway.
Manistique senior Tyler Pomeroy is the defending boys' champ, with freshman Holly Blowers a possible contender in the girls' race.
"Tyler is excited about running in his last M-PC meet and having a chance to defend his title," said Emeralds' coach Laurie Lindstrom. "Holly has been learning how to race and pace herself. She's still learning, but she's coming on strong. We're just looking for the kids to give their best possible effort."
Pomeroy edged Gwinn's Matt Moilanen by a second for last year's title.
"He (Moilanen) is probably Tyler's main challenger," said Lindstrom. "Although, Negaunee also has a couple strong runners and is probably the team to beat. We can also expect strong competition from Gwinn and Norway. The boys will have to be on top of their game."
Both Negaunee teams are shooting for their third straight title, with Keenan Gantz as the boys' pacesetter. Gantz placed fourth among the large-school runners in the Golden K Kiwanis Invitational Sept. 29 at Escanaba, where Moilanen was 10th.
Among the others to watch are Norway's Mike Zygiel and Steve Raboin.
Manistique junior Robert Ayotte returned to action in last week's Gladstone Invitational at Flat Rock, marking his first meet since undergoing surgery to repair a broken collarbone on Sept. 8.
"Robert has obviously lost some ground, but he's ready to try making some up in the home stretch," said Lindstrom. "Bryson Lawrence has been improving all season and Ryan Ramey is holding his own. Although, we're looking for Ryan to step up a little."
Blowers placed third at Esky, covering the 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes, 29 seconds, four seconds ahead of Negaunee's Wyleen Kivioja. Blowers has since run 21:00, good for fifth at Flat Rock.
The Emeralds are running today without senior Darby Demers, who had previous commitments.
"The Negaunee girls are definitely the team to beat," said Lindstrom. "I think the girls' field will be pretty small, although we have some very good runners in our conference. It will probably be a wide-open race for the runner-up spot for the boys and girls."