Concord's Hersha Matches Heroes

November 3, 2012

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

BROOKLYN — Jesse Hersha has already done something his running role models never accomplished, but that doesn’t lessen the sense of awe he has for past Concord state champions Kyle Stacks and Spencer Nousain.

Hersha became Concord’s third individual MHSAA champion in the last four years, but the first to do so as a sophomore, as he cruised alone up front to take the Lower Peninsula Division 4 championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway with a personal-best time of 15:32.3. His performance led Concord to a second consecutive team title.

Stacks won the 2009 championship in 15:54.8, followed by Nousain two years later in 15:55.8. Both were seniors when they won.

“I’m always fighting to beat Spencer’s times and Kyle’s times,” said Hersha, who was a teammate of Nousain’s on last season’s championship team. “Today I was three seconds or so off Kyle’s best time.

“They are definitely a push for me. They inspire me. Even if I beat their times, I’ll never think of myself as more than them. They’ll always be a role model to me.”

Hersha ran alone up front, winning by 20.5 seconds over David Zinger of Evart. Sean Kelly of Saugatuck was third in 15:58.9.

Hersha placed 19th at last year's Final, ninth among non-seniors. It was during the summer road race season that he began to get the confidence that he could become an MHSAA champion.

“I ran a road race without much training in 17:04 or something,” Hersha said. “My coach came to me after that and told me when Spencer won his senior year, he ran like 16:50 something at that race. When Kyle won his senior year, he ran 16:50 something.”

Nousain was the only senior in Concord’s Finals lineup last year, so the Yellow Jackets were favored to repeat. They did so handily by a 61-100 margin over Evart.

Freshman Josiah Ottolini was 11th in 16:23.0, senior Parker Saenz 14th in 16:27.0, senior Tyler Neu 18th in 16:29.7 and senior Sam Comden 47th in 17:05.4 to complete Concord’s scoring.

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PHOTO: Concord's Jesse Hersha became the third MHSAA individual champion from Concord. (Click to see more from

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.

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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/