MUNISING — It was a day of firsts for a pair of Copper Country schools in the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Boys Cross Country Finals here Saturday.
Dollar Bay was crowned champion for the first time, and junior Jonah Nordine became the first Ewen-Trout Creek athlete to earn an individual title.
Nordine covered the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 34.9 seconds, followed by Chassell senior Kolson Kytta (17:59.7) and Brimley senior Cameron Hoonstra (18:05.5) at Pictured Rocks Golf Course.
“I just tried to stay in first and push it out the whole race,” said Nordine. “It felt good to win this one, that’s for sure. I just put in a lot of work this summer and used this for conditioning for basketball.”
Kytta said he was happy to be runner-up.
"I had a better time in the season opener at (Painesdale) Jeffers, but that was kind of a downhill course,” he added. “It looks like I peaked at the right time. Our school was shut down for two weeks (due to COVID-19), but I think that enabled me to work on some things. We usually have 8-10 races every year. We had five this year, which is kind of disappointing for my senior year, but at least we got to have a season.”
The Blue Bolts scored 42 points, and reigning champ Rudyard edged Newberry 83-85 for the runner-up honor.
“Staying healthy was huge for us,” said Dollar Bay coach Matt Zimmer. “We’re all in this together. We decided we’re going to do this as a group. When the guys saw a teammate struggling, they offered him encouragement. They never left anyone alone out there. They all finished as a group. We refer to ourselves as the Dollar Bay family.”
Zimmer was also happy with the team’s senior leaders.
“They’ve been running together for four years,” he said. “They’ve been on this course before and knew where all the turns and hills were. Munising did a great job marking the course. Everything went like clockwork. They were very well organized.”
Newberry senior Ephram Evans took fourth (18:15.6), with Dollar Bay senior Davin Hill taking fifth (18:20.3).
“It wasn’t too bad out there,” said Evans. “I had a pair of water-resistant socks which kept my feet very dry. I went out a little harder than I wanted to. I would have liked to have placed third, but this was still a great way to end my high school career. Cam (Hoornstra) and I are great friends, and he beat me for the first time this year. We worked together and tried to catch the guy in second.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Stephenson's Griffin Brown and Engadine's Conrad Spieles (27) run with Dollar Bay's Davin Hill (14), Cooper Stout (18), and John Paul Norland (17). (Middle) Ewen-Trout Creek's Jonah Nordine has a comfortable lead in the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final at Pictured Rocks Golf Course in Munising. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)
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.)