Second Half reports
BROOKLYN — There’s more than one way to be a champion in a sport like cross country.
Caro junior Yami Albrecht had already experienced becoming an individual title winner last year at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final.
It was obvious which championship would mean the most to him after he repeated Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
“Did you see the team score?” he asked reporters a few minutes after he finished.
Caro was ranked No. 2 in the state, looking for its first MHSAA championship since 1980, but had to settle for second place by six points behind top-ranked Hanover-Horton. Hanover-Horton scored 122 points to win its first MHSAA title after finishing a program-best third in 2014 and 2016.
“I’d rather win as a team than by myself, to be honest,” Albrecht said. “It’s just a lot more fun. The whole team can celebrate about it.”
The Tigers will have to settle for celebrating another individual title by Albrecht and their best finish since winning Class B 37 years ago. It also was the first time Caro, which didn’t run a senior Saturday, had made the top five in back-to-back years.
Albrecht, who didn’t begin cross country until his freshman year, finished in 15:44.7 to hold off a late charge by Harbor Springs junior Jeremy Kloss. Kloss, last year’s Division 4 runner-up, took second in 15:47.1.
“When I first started running, I never really imagined this,” Albrecht said. “It’s amazing, the team we have. All of the guys work together every day and are committed. Our coaches run with us every single day; you can’t always have that where the coach can actually be there with you.”
Albrecht broke away from a pack of four or five runners late in the race. One of those runners was Kloss, who had never faced Albrecht before Saturday.
“I knew if I wanted to get what I wanted, I’d have to stick with him and stay right on his tail,” Kloss said. “It was real helpful with a tough group of guys up front. We all swapped. One person would go first, then another one. It was real helpful. I owe it to them. Last year’s state champ, Yami, is impressive. He’s a real tough kid.”
Senior Landon Melling was third in 15:54.8 and senior Bo Shepherd was ninth in 16:20.9 to lead Hanover-Horton. Completing the scoring were Andy Swihart (42nd, 16:57.7), Bradley Guenther (47th, 17:03.9) and Donovan Kennedy (70th, 17:15.4).
Holland Black River was third with 149 points.
PHOTOS: (Top) Caro’s Yami Albrecht (415), Harbor Springs’ Jeremy Kloss (466) and Hanover-Horton’s Landon Melling (460) push each other late in Saturday’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Hanover-Horton’s Bo Shepherd (462) leads Saugatuck’s Nik Pettinga (553) and Holland Black River’s Sam Sharnas (484) down the final stretch. (Click for more from 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.)