HARVEY — Ronald Reagan was president when the Chassell boys were last crowned Upper Peninsula cross country champions.
The year was 1982 and the Panthers were competing in Class D at that time.
Chassell ended that drought Saturday by earning its first Division 3 title with 78 points. Stephenson edged Munising 84-85 for the runner-up trophy.
“This means a lot to us,” said Chassell coach Marco Guidotti. “Chassell cross country went away for a few years, but now it looks like it’s back stronger than ever.
“Everyone will be returning next year. We’re hoping to build this up and continue our success.”
Munising sophomore Grady Kerst won the 3.1-mile race at Gentz Homestead Golf Course in 17 minutes, 21 seconds. He was followed by Stephenson senior and defending champ Connor Cappaert (18:04), Munising junior Brett Hannah (18:14), Bessemer senior Zak Mazurek (18:25) and Wakefield-Marenisco junior Sam Dean (18:30).
“Grady ran an excellent race,” said Cappaert. “This is a great way to close out my career. I actually did better today than I thought I would. Our goal was to beat Munising, but then Chassell sneaked up on us. I’m actually pretty sad to see this end.
“Yet, it’s also a new beginning. It’s great to walk off with a trophy. We worked hard all year under great coaches, who are also great supporters.”
Eighth-grader Abraham Gockenbach was Chassell’s leader in sixth (18:39).
Marquette retained its crown with 59 points for its 22nd title overall. The Redmen were followed by Escanaba with 69 points and Houghton with 95.
“Once we got our seven guys healthy, we knew we could contend,” said Marquette coach Dale Phillips. “The guys were determined to have success.
“Escanaba has a great team. They’re well coached and were good competition for us all year. Just look at their jayvee team and see how they bring up their numbers. They have kids pushing each other and that’s what’s important.”
Kingsford junior Nate Carey won his first U.P. title at 17:19, followed by Marquette junior Lance Rambo (17:25), Escanaba sophomore Joey Wolfe (17:28), Houghton senior David Jazsczak (17:44) and Escanaba senior Eric Cousineau (17:47).
“Doing the right amount of training and not racing since the GNC (Great Northern Conference) meet (on Oct. 9) were the keys,” said Carey. “My legs were fresh. There were five of us in a group at mile 2.”
The top three finishers were still together until the final 100 yards when Carey began to pull away on this blustery day.
“Until then it was anybody’s race,” said Carey. “The conditions were challenging, but it adds to the uniqueness of the sport. This is definitely a motivator. I think this will help my preparation for track (in the spring). This gives me more confidence.”
Menominee senior Gunther DeDamos, who placed seventh (17:56), had similar thoughts.
“This is true cross country,” he said. “Nothing defines it more than when you run in these conditions. I really enjoyed today’s race.”
Ishpeming captured its first title in 13 years with 53 points, followed by Powers North Central with 67 and Ironwood with 68.
Ironwood senior Jared Joki completed a perfect season, retaining his crown in 16:45.
He was followed by North Central junior Bryce Holle (18:30), Ishpeming’s Kazmine Langness (19:12), Manistique freshman Phillip Hagenson (19:31) and Norway’s Justin Anderson (19:32).
“It was a cold one, but you get used to it,” said Joki, who wrapped up the Indianhead Conference title on Thursday. “I tried to establish a rhythm early and picked up the pace in the second half of the race.
“It was 60 degrees and sunny in Ironwood on Thursday. I wasn’t pushed that much and was able to win in 18:10. We were ready to go today. Overall, we all performed pretty well.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Chassell, in blue with yellow piping, won its first MHSAA title since 1980 in claiming the Division 3 title Saturday. (Middle) Marquette’s pack moved to the front again in Division 1, claiming the team’s 22nd championship. (Below) Ironwood’s Jared Joki capped his stellar career with a repeat championship in Division 2. (Photo courtesy of RunMichigan.com/Paul Gerard.)
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.)