MARQUETTE — The Marquette boys team achieved a three-peat here in Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Finals, placing four in the top seven and scoring 32 points.
They were followed by Sault Ste. Marie with 48 and Houghton with 75.
“Marquette is probably the best team we’ve had up here in 20 years,” said Sault coach Jim Martin. “We knew they were going to be tough. We also had a real good team this year, probably our best team in a decade.”
Marquette junior Carson Vanderschaaf was crowned individual champion for the first time by covering the 3.1-mile course at Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course in Chocolay Township in 16 minutes, 45.1 seconds. He was followed by Houghton senior Eric Weiss (17:04) and Gladstone junior Drew Hughes (17:23.7) on a sunny and seasonably cool day.
“I wanted to stay up front and see what happened,” said Vanderschaaf. “My legs just felt good today.
“We have good team dynamics. We all train together. I don’t really know what this means at this time, but I’m looking forward to track next spring. This is a big confidence builder right now. It was real nice weather for running. I was afraid it would rain (as forecast by the Weather Channel).”
Hughes was undefeated this season prior to Saturday.
“I was really nervous coming in here, but I did better than last year,” he said. “Anxiety plays a big part. I cut 12 seconds off from my freshman year on this course. I still had a good day.”
Painesdale Jeffers placed four in the top five and earned its first Division 2 team title with 22 points, followed by Ironwood with 50 and Manistique at 62.
For the Jets, this marked their first title since 2009 when they were crowned Division 3 champs.
“We got some fast boys here today,” said Jeffers coach Sam Kilpela. “We moved up to D-2 and last year we were runners-up. It felt weird jumping up to D-2. The start was real fast, but the guys ran smart.
“We have a real young team, and our middle school crew is strong.”
Jeffers senior Simone Barp won a Finals for the first time at 18:30.1, followed by freshman teammates Benton Rajala (18:37.1) and Brit Heinonen (18:40.5). West Iron County senior Landon Sundelius (18:44) and Jeffers junior Tavin Larson (17:50.1) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“Tavin has been running since middle school,” said Kilpela. “In the last couple years we started getting competitive.”
Dollar Bay kept its Division 3 crown with 57 points, followed by Stephenson with 63 and Brimley with 77.
“We have fun running on the tough courses,” said Dollar Bay coach Matt Zimmer. “Then you get on a golf course and you think it’s going to be an easy course and it really isn’t.
“The Copper Country conferences were well represented. Both of our teams ran very well. We have three girls who have been with us since junior high. We’ve become a family. There’s absolutely a lot of camaraderie, and it’s a family atmosphere.”
Ewen-Trout Creek senior Jonah Nordine retained his individual title at 17:15.7, followed by former teammate and Dollar Bay junior Nik Thomas (17:16.6) and Munising freshman Trevor Nolan (17:47.1).
“I’m pretty happy with my time,” said Nordine. “I really tried to push it in the first mile. I ran a little more conservatively in the second mile, then tried to pick it up in the third.
“This is a pretty big confidence builder, I guess. I was a little nervous coming in here because Nik beat me in the (Copper Mountain) conference race last week. That definitely motivated me for the U.P. Finals.”
Thomas was happy with his and the team’s success.
"I’m so proud of our team,” he said. “After the girls took second, it woke us up. We knew we had to do our part. It’s real competitive in our area. It’s just a great day for our school.
“It was so cool running with Jonah again. At 2½ miles, we were just talking about how great it was to be running together again. We weren’t really running against each other. We were running with each other.”
PHOTOS (Top) Painesdale Jeffers’ Simone Barp leads a group of runners including Ironwood's Joey Lauzon (143), Hancock's Jan Baaslrud (138), and teammate Ben Gilroy (154) during the Division 2 Final. (Middle) Marquette's Carson Vanderschaaf celebrates finishing first in the Division 1 race at Gentz's Homestead Golf Course. (Below) Ewen-Trout Creek's Jonah Nordine (246) edges Dollar Bay's Nik Thomas at the finish line. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click to see 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.)