Plymouth senior – Cross Country
Plymouth’s top runner the last three years capped his high school cross country career as the state’s best – and one of its fastest champions all-time. Solomon won the Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in 15:01.2, the sixth-fastest 5K Finals time in state history, earning him the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.”
Solomon had finished 18th (and second among Plymouth runners) at the Finals as a freshman, then fifth as a sophomore and second as a junior before crossing the line first and five seconds ahead of the field in his last high school race at MIS. The win capped an unbeaten season for Solomon, and that’s no small achievement – not only is LP Division 1 generally the fastest annually in the state, but four more of the top seven runners at this year’s meet were from Solomon’s Kensington Lakes Activities Association. He also ran at invitationals against a number of other contenders from other divisions, including twice against Dearborn Divine Child’s Anthony and Michael Hancock, who finished second and third, respectively, in LP Division 2. Solomon’s season and personal-best 14:42.7 actually came at the Regional at Ann Arbor Huron, where he cleared the field by more than 31 seconds.
As a team, Plymouth finished 12th at the Finals after earning the championship in 2018 and finishing runner-up in 2017 – again, both times with Solomon in the lead. He also will help pace the track & field team one more season in the spring after finishing fourth in the 1,600 and ninth in the 3,200 at last year’s LPD1 Finals. Solomon will continue his running and academic careers next year at University of Notre Dame; he’s carrying a 4.0 grade-point average this school year and will study either mechanical or aerospace engineering.
Coach Jonathan Mikosz said: “Carter is one of those runners that you dream about being able to coach. Not many other coaches have ever had the opportunity to coach a better runner in this state. When you have a guy on your team of that caliber, I think it helps bring out the best in other guys as well. He was a huge part of our teams that were state champions and state runners-up back-to-back years. … In this day and age when people are hiring private coaches and looking at the internet for advice, it has been great that someone of his abilities has bought in 100 percent into our system and our coaching plan. He has bought in since day one and always trusted us as coaches. That's rare in this day and age, but him being so coachable has also (contributed) to his success. I couldn't be prouder of what he has been able to accomplish. … He has worked hard and has stayed humble with his success. That's one of the things I am most proud of. We have both learned a lot from each other. He will definitely be missed next season.”
Performance Point: “This weekend was awesome. I keep thinking about that race and everyone at the end and how it truly was an experience I will never forget. (It was) the last piece of the puzzle for my high school career. My season’s not quite over yet; I want to race at Foot Locker. The team title was awesome – I was happy for the team – but coming in second (individually last year) was a bummer and I knew I wanted to come back next year and win it and check off the team title and individual title boxes on my resume. Getting that done this year was truly awesome."
Providing the push: “I talk to the guys at other schools too; we talk about our races and what not. Having them there definitely is motivation, and I use that to push me while I am training. I have teammates too; Patrick Byrnes, he is a good training partner. I’m thankful for my competition.”
Ready to rock: “Before I even go to the meet, I will run around my neighborhood for a shake-out run, but that’s pretty common. I listen to music in my headphones. I have a playlist mixed with Foo Fighters, Korn, a little Metallica, your heavier metal classic rock kind of music.”
No place like home: “(My favorite course) is our home course, Cass Benton Park. I like it because everyone else hates it, People come in, ‘Oh, we have to race there …’ Well, you’re lucky you get to race it. It’s a tough course – it’s hilly, it’s long, it’s hard to mentally get through. But I’ve raced it so many times throughout my high school career, and even in middle school I raced it a couple of time. I’ve just grown to love it.”
Running is for me: “I think the feeling I get after accomplishing my goals is what I work for. Practice six days a week, training a long time and coming up short is demoralizing. But when you reach the goals you set for yourself, and you do the things you didn’t know were possible a couple of months before, I think that is really why I am addicted to it.”
Engineer it: “When I was young, I was curious about how things worked and taking stuff apart. My dad introduced engineering to me, and I joined the engineering program at our school my freshman year. We did a lot of cool stuff in the engineering field, trying to get an introduction to it, and I really like it.”
– Paige Winne, Second Half
Nov. 1: Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24: Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country - Report
Oct. 17: Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10: Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
Oct. 3: Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report
PHOTOS: (Top) Plymouth's Carter Solomon races down the home stretch during Saturday's Division 1 Final at Michigan International Speedway. (Middle) Solomon leads a pack, including Brighton's Jack Spamer, earlier in the race. (Photos by Matt Yacoub/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.)