D2 Champions Make Up Final Ground

November 1, 2014

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half 

BROOKLYN — Two years ago, Algonac's Morgan Beadlescomb wouldn't have been chosen "most likely to succeed" among cross country runners in his class.

Out of 25 freshmen, he finished 12th with a time of 16:57.4 in the 2012 MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 meet, taking 138th overall. 

Obviously, there was some ground to make up.

He vaulted all the way to all-state status last year, taking 12th in 16:13.8, but he was a distant 31.1 seconds out of first place and behind five other runners who also were set to return this year. 

But Beadlescomb continued to improve at a more rapid rate than his peers, the payoff being the Division 2 individual championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Beadlescomb finished in 15:30.7, outdueling defending champion Austin Sargent of Cedar Springs. Sargent was second in 15:42.1, with Daniel Steele of Sturgis taking third in 15:43.7. 

"It was a big difference in pace and confidence," Beadlescomb said. "You have to have a lot of confidence in yourself. The one thing is I practiced really hard, and that wore me down in a lot of meets. This year, I'm a lot stronger because I'm older, and I practiced a lot smarter."

It was a three-way battle for first when Beadlescomb, Sargent and Steele entered the infield at MIS with about a half mile remaining. Beadlescomb broke away from the others at the three-mile mark, with one tenth of a mile to go. 

"I thought I kicked too early," said Beadlescomb, who won 14 of 16 meets this season. "Then I lost the feeling in my legs, so I just kept going and kept pushing as hard as I could. It was desperation. I remember when I passed him, it was the greatest feeling. I heard my name and it gave me an extra kick when I heard I was in first."

On a windy day, Beadlescomb broke his personal best of 15:48 set in last year's Regional. His best time this year was 15:50 at the Portage Invitational, where he took second to St. Joseph's Skyler Arthur by six seconds and finished three seconds ahead of Sargent, who was third. Arthur took 15th on Saturday. 

Grand Rapids Christian won its first MHSAA team championship, scoring 83 points to beat Fremont by 21. 

Christian had five runners cross before Fremont's No. 4 runner finished.

Benny Briseno was eighth in 16:01.8 and Justin Varineau was 13th in 16:11.3 to lead the Eagles. Rounding out the scoring for Christian were Jim VanDyke (18th, 16:16.3), Leland Robertson (36th, 16:26.6) and Patrick Jonker (45th, 16:31.9).

Before Saturday, the Eagles' best finish in an MHSAA Final was second in Class B in 1978. They finished third last year. 

Fremont had two runners in the top nine in Matthew Zerfas (fourth, 15:52.7) and Sam Kaastra (ninth, 16:03.5).

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) Algonac's Morgan Beadlescomb breaks away from Cedar Springs’ Austin Sargent during the final stretch of Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final. (Below) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Nathan Mylenek leads a pack toward the finish, including Benny Briseno (344), the top placer for team champion Grand Rapids Christian. Mylenek was seventh and Briseno eighth. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)

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/RunMichigan.com.)