BROOKLYN — Riley Hough of Hartland is flattered whenever his name is mentioned in the same breath as Dathan Ritzenhein’s.
Few runners who have come along in the last 21 years inspired any comparisons to the former Rockford great, whose time of 14:10.4 in the 2000 MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 meet is the fastest high school performance in history.
After breaking Ritzenhein’s course record at the Portage Invitational with a time of 14:37.1 on Oct. 9, Hough did something the three-time Olympian never accomplished at MIS by breaking 15 minutes for the second time.
Hough’s time of 14:56.47 Saturday at MIS came one year after he won in 14:49.62, a time that’s second only to Ritzenhein’s record.
Six other runners have gone under 15 minutes at MIS, but none more than once. Ritzenhein came the closest before Hough, winning the 1999 Class A meet in 15:05.4 before his awe-inspiring effort as a senior.
As far as Hough is concerned, he wants to leave his own legacy apart from anyone who came before him.
“Obviously, I have some of his records in some of the other invitationals,” Hough said. “Honestly, I feel I’m just making a name for myself instead of just trying to replace someone else.”
Hough finished the season 13-0, winning his last 24 races in a Hartland uniform.
Farmington’s Peter Baracco, like Hough a four-time all-stater, was less than a second off the pace at the mile mark, which Hough reached in 4:50.9. With a 4:44.3 second mile, Hough obliterated the field by opening up a 27.5-second lead.
Hough’s possible successor, Grand Haven sophomore Seth Norder, moved from 10th place at the two-mile mark to second by the end of the race. Norder crossed the line in 15:25.69.
Winning the team championship for the second time in three years was Brighton, which outscored runner-up Caledonia, 141-175.
The Bulldogs have five different scoring runners from their 2019 team, with only one runner back from the seven who took the course two years ago.
Senior Quinn Cullen ran a personal-best 15:37.54 to lead Brighton, placing sixth individually.
Senior Jack Campbell was 32nd in 16:06.54, senior Lucas Seng was 36th in 16:10.69, sophomore Tyler Langley was 45th in 16:16.84 and junior Dylan White was 97th in 16:42.70.
“It’s just a testament to the amount of work these kids put into it,” Brighton coach Chris Elsey said. “We’ve got a great core group of kids. Seven ran here today, but we’ve got 20, 25 guys who are part of that core group who work hard through the winter, work hard through the summer, in the spring in track. It’s hard to put into words.”
PHOTOS (Top) Hartland’s Riley Hough closes in on a repeat Division 1 championship Saturday. (Middle) Brighton’s Quinn Cullen leads a pack toward the finish while setting the pace for the eventual team title winner. (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.)