P-W's Farmer, Traverse City St. Francis Finish Championship Climbs

November 4, 2023

BROOKLYN — Pewamo-Westphalia senior Collin Farmer turned the lowest moment of his cross country career into motivation to be great.

In 2022, Farmer was running with the pack of runners who were battling for second place behind four-time MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 champion Hunter Jones of Benzie Central.

Everything unraveled for Farmer around the time runners began to enter the track area at Michigan International Speedway. He faded from sixth place at the two-mile mark to 26th place in the final standings. It was still good enough for all-state, but far from Farmer’s capability.

“I ended up dying at the end of the race last year,” he said. “I took ownership of why I died and really wanted to push myself in the offseason.”

All that work paid off with a first-place finish in Division 3 on Saturday at MIS.

Farmer crossed the line in 15:39.1 to finish his high school season with five consecutive victories.

Traverse City St. Francis’ Leo Swager (1130) pushes with a pack as the top finisher for the team title winner. He applied lessons from his 2022 disappointment to become an MHSAA champion.

“It’s a real a mental battle,” he said. “You’ve got to tell yourself, no, you’re not tired when you feel tired. I didn’t really have that capability last year. This year I learned how to do that.”

Reed City junior August Rohde was second in 15:51.9, and Hart freshman Robert Jazwinski was third in 15:54.0.

“I thought I had a shot at it,” Farmer said. “Jazwinski is a real worker, so he was the guy. If I have to beat someone, I have to beat him.”

The only disappointment for Farmer this time around was that his Pewamo-Westphalia team, which entered the meet ranked No. 2, finished in seventh place.

A Traverse City St. Francis team that has been building its way toward the top won the team championship with 113 points. St. Louis was second with 175.

St. Francis had finished in the top six each of the last four years, its best a runner-up performance last season.

The Gladiators have a chance to repeat, with only one senior among the seven runners who competed Saturday.

Junior Leo Swager was 12th, junior Owen Read 33rd, junior Lewis Walter 35th, senior Tucker Krumm 37th and junior Riley Pattinson 44th for St. Francis.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Pewamo-Westphalia’s Collin Farmer approaches the finish on the way to winning the Division 3 championship Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Traverse City St. Francis’ Leo Swager (1130) pushes with a pack as the top finisher for the team title winner. (Photos by Dave McCauley/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.)