BROOKLYN — Among the T-shirts cross country runners enjoy wearing — besides “our sport is your sport’s punishment” — are those that emphasize the importance of summer training.
“Summer miles bring fall smiles” and “Medals are earned in the summer and picked up in the fall” are among the favorites.
Marine City Cardinal Mooney senior Tyler Lenn wasn’t smiling much during the summer, because he was unable to log those all-important miles required for building an aerobic base.
He ran through injuries during track & field season before the pain became too much. He was dealing with a stress fracture, Achilles’ tendinitis and calf strains in both legs.
“Mentally, for me, it was not where I wanted to be,” Lenn said. “I don’t think anybody would want to be in that position. At the same time, there’s nothing I could have really changed about it. I made the most out of the situation, and I guess I showed that today.”
Lenn was all smiles Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, standing atop the podium after winning the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 individual championship.
Lenn posted a personal-best time of 15:49.0 to win by 12 seconds over Owen Patton of Vestaburg.
It was the culmination of a rocky season that began to turn around Oct. 20 when he won his league meet in 16:02.1. He ran 18:35.1 17 days earlier and 17:09.3 in his previous meet.
“I was like, ‘OK, I feel like I have a little bit of confidence in my body again,’” Lenn said. “Throughout the season, it was really rough. I would just fall apart in some races where I would trip and tweak the ankle and I would fall apart in the race mentally.”
Patton held a slight lead at the mile and two mile before Lenn laid down the hammer in the final mile.
“I think I made the right move,” Lenn said. “I just fought for positioning in the first 400 (meters), kind of held myself back a little bit to save for the end.”
Top-ranked Hillsdale Academy won the team championship, scoring 129 points to win by 70 ahead of Holland Calvary. It was the second MHSAA championship for Hillsdale Academy, which won in 2021.
Senior Thomas Holm was fourth, junior Reece Poole was fifth, sophomore Grayson Rorick was 20th, freshman Ryan Miller was 76th and sophomore Harry Lindsley was 80th for Hillsdale Academy.
PHOTOS (Top) Cardinal Mooney’s Tyler Lenn leads through the stretch of the Division 4 Final on Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Thomas Holm pushes toward a fourth-place finish that led Hillsdale Academy to a team title. (Photos by Dave McCauley/RunMichigan.com.)
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.
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.
“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.
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/RunMichigan.com.)