By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
BROOKLYN — It finished as expected, with a duel between Algonac senior Morgan Beadlescomb and Corunna junior Noah Jacobs.
A pack of four runners entered the stadium with about 1,200 meters remaining, with Pontiac Notre Dame teammates Brendan Fraser and Nathan Mylenek intent on crashing the party.
With the finish line in sight on the long straight away, the two favorites separated from Fraser and Mylenek and launched a battle for the championship. Beadlescomb prevailed to repeat as Division 2 champion with a time of 15:26.5. Jacobs was second in 15:30.5, with Fraser taking third in 15:39.4 and Mylenek fourth in15:40.5.
Even at the highly competitive Portage Invitational on Oct. 10, Beadlescomb and Jacobs cleared the field by the mile mark and raced to the two fastest times in Michigan this season. Beadlescomb edged Jacobs by one second that day with a time of 14:59.
The difference this time was the wind, into which nobody was willing to push the pace alone up front.
"This race was completely different," Beadlescomb said. "I knew it was going to be a kicking race before the first mile. Something inside me was just saying, 'Go,' but I had to stay because people behind me will just use me and that will waste energy."
"Neither of us likes to take the lead and eat the wind," Jacobs said. "I figured somebody would take it for us, which happened."
The race featured the winners of the two distance events at last spring's Lower Peninsula Division 2 Track and Field Finals. Beadlescomb won the 1,600-meter run in 4:13.58, while Jacobs took the 3,200 in 9:27.49. Jacobs didn't run the 1,600, while a fatigued Beadlescomb was fifth in the 3,200.
They met twice during the regular season, with Jacobs finishing nine seconds ahead of Beadlescomb in the Spartan Elite race at the Spartan Invitational on Sept. 18 before Beadlescomb won Portage.
"He's a great kid," Beadlescomb said of his rival. "We wish each other luck every time we see each other. It's good competition. We're hard and we push each other, but it's good. It really helps both of us. I can't wait to see what he does next year as a senior."
While disappointed over finishing second, Jacobs would prefer a race like Saturday's to any of the easy victories a runner of his caliber routinely racks up during a season.
"It's a lot more fun to go out there and have great competition and really do something special than if you win your conference by 30 seconds or something like that," said Jacobs, who was fifth in the Final last year. "It's special to go out and see your training pay off in a big-time situation like that. I wanted to win today. I'm handling this well right now, but deep down I'm pretty hurt. I wanted to come out and win today. Morgan's a great competitor. I knew it would be a tough race. He outraced me."
The battle for the team championship wasn't nearly as close, as Fremont rolled to a 69-162 victory over runner-up Otsego.
Fremont had four runners in the top 19, led by fifth-place junior Matthew Zerfas in 15:44.7. Zerfas was fourth last year.
Also scoring for Fremont were junior Sam Kaastra (14th, 16:05.7), junior Cole Hamilton (16th, 16:07.9), sophomore Ben Schmidt (19th, 16:11.8) and junior Sam Stitt (35th, 16:26.5).
Ranked No. 9 coming into the meet, Otsego's boys were the lowest-ranked team to take home a championship or runner-up trophy in any division Saturday. Only 12 points separated second-place Otsego from fifth-place Corunna.
Alex Comerford led Otsego, taking 13th in 16:04.5 to finish first among freshmen. It was Otsego's best finish at an MHSAA Finals meet, eclipsing third-place finishes in 1951, 1961, 1962 and 2008.
Third-place Clio (171 points) had the best finish in school history, improving on fourth-place showings in 1963 and last year. It was the first time since 1963 and 1964 that the Mustangs have made the top 10 in back-to-back years.
PHOTOS: (Top) Algonac’s Morgan Beadlescomb (446) and Corunna’s Noah Jacobs (294) stayed with the lead pack early before breaking away near the end of the Division 2 Final. (Middle) Fremont’s Cole Hamilton (322) works to stay ahead of the Clio’s Ethan Taljonick. (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.)