Benzie Freshman, Hanover-Horton Reign

November 2, 2019

Second Half reports

BROOKLYN – It’s been 26 years since a ninth-grader from a high school in the northwest portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula made MHSAA cross country history.

Ryan Shay of Central Lake won the 1993 individual race at the Class D championships back when there were separate races for team and individual qualifiers. No freshman boy came close to duplicating Shay’s feat in the quarter century that followed.

But along came Hunter Jones.

Jones joined Shay as the only freshman boys to win a race at an MHSAA Lower Peninsula Final when he ran away with the Division 3 title in 15:45.0 on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Since the Final was moved to MIS in 1996, the best finishes by freshman boys before Saturday were fifth-place showings by Rockford legend Dathan Ritzenhein in Class A in 1997 and Whitmore Lake’s Zach Carpenter in Division 4 in 2006.

Jones, whose school is 70 miles away from Central Lake, was aware of Shay’s running legacy. Shay went on to win the NCAA 10,000-meter championship for Notre Dame in 2001 and claim five national road race titles. He died while racing in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in New York on Nov. 3, 2007.

That would be pretty awesome to be as good as him,” Jones said.

Someday, a young runner may say the same about Jones.

He won 12 of his 13 races this season, taking fourth at the Benzie Central Pete Moss Invite on Aug. 24 behind runners from Division 1 and 2 schools.

His time Saturday ranks second at MIS for a freshman in any division, trailing only a 15:40.9 by Rockford’s Cole Johnson in Division 1 in 2014. Jones broke the Division 3 freshman mark of 16:03.8 set by eventual three-time champion Yami Albrecht of Caro.

Jones ran solo from the outset, winning by 28.9 seconds over Vandercook Lake senior Andrew Frohm. Frohm emerged from a tight battle for second place in 16:13.9. There were only 4.3 seconds between the second and fifth finishers.

“He pulled away,” Frohm said of Jones. “I was more looking at the guys who were second, third. The last 100 meters, I outsprinted the guy that was in second.”

Hanover-Horton won the team championship for the second time in three years, scoring 146 points. Grandville Calvin Christian edged Charlevoix, 183-184, for second place.

Garrett Melling was eighth overall and fifth among team runners in 16:21.3, and Dean Reynolds was 10th overall and sixth among team runners in 16:27.6 to lead Hanover-Horton.

Also scoring for Hanover-Horton were Rogan Melling (62nd, 17:17.0), Andy Swihart (72nd, 17:28.1) and Logan Shepherd (89th, 17:41.8).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Benzie Central’s Hunter Jones charges toward the finish of the Division 3 boys race Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Hanover-Horton’s Dean Reynolds (451) leads a pack including Potterville’s Zach Wright. (Photos by Dave McCauley/

Freeland's Hansen Smashes Longstanding Record, FHE Claims 1st Finals Victory

November 4, 2023

BROOKLYN — On the same day Rockford’s Dathan Ritzenhein set a course record at Michigan International Speedway that has never been approached, Kurtis Marlowe of Richland Gull Lake had a performance that was overshadowed.

But Marlowe’s winning time of 15:02.5 in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals in 2000 also stood the test of time.

Until Saturday.

Freeland junior TJ Hansen eclipsed the Division 2 record with his winning time of 14:52.8. Runner-up Solomon Kwartowitz of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood also nearly broke the previous record, finishing in 15:03.3.

Even though it was apparent from earlier races Saturday that perfect conditions made fast times possible, Hansen didn’t set out to break Marlowe’s record.

“No, my goal was to go out and win,” he said. “Play strategy from the front, let others do the work, then just push it. Whatever time I got, I was gonna get. I knew it was going to take a time like that to win it today.

Henry Dixon sets the pace for Forest Hills Eastern's first team championship.“I usually run close to a (personal record) every year at this meet. It’s one of my favorite courses. It’s definitely unique here at the speedway, so I really like the course, I really like to run it.”

Hansen went through the mile mark tied for 11th in 4:54.3, but you could’ve thrown a blanket over the top 12 runners at that point.

It was a three-man race between Hansen, Kwartowitz and 2022 champion Connell Alford of Chelsea when they reached the two-mile mark in 9:46.

Hansen made sure there would be no drama coming down the stretch.

“I was just trying to stay calm, let them do the work, just sit back,” he said. “When I needed to go, I was gonna go. My goal was to stay relaxed.”

Kwartowitz had no complaints with his race.

“It felt really smooth,” he said. “It was great. I didn’t get a chance to race these guys a bunch this year. I did at Spartan (Invitational, in September). I was really hoping to end it with a victory.”

The boys Division 2 team championship was a toss-up between four teams for the second year in a row, with Ada Forest Hills Eastern coming out on top with 134 points. Pinckney was second with 156, East Grand Rapids third with 175 and Allendale fourth with 176.

Last year, 32 points separated the top four teams.

Junior Henry Dixon led Forest Hills Eastern, placing sixth in 15:16.0. Senior Liam Hinman was 29th, senior Brendan Hoving was 30th, senior Cooper Jacobsen was 38th and junior Tyler Endres was 82nd.

It was the first MHSAA championship for Forest Hills Eastern, which had a program-best finish of fourth in 2007.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Freeland's TJ Hansen approaches the finish of his record run Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Henry Dixon sets the pace for Forest Hills Eastern's first team championship. (Photos by Dave McCauley/