MARQUETTE – Brimley senior Austin Plotkin said he tried to run Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final like any other race.
But, perhaps as expected, it was much more.
Plotkin crossed the finish line in 17:20.7, winning his fourth MHSAA Finals championship and becoming just the second boys cross country runner to do so, joining Central Lake’s Ryan Shay who accomplished the feat in Lower Peninsula Class D from 1993-96.
"I tried to get under 17 minutes, but going under 17 is hard to do on this course," said Plotkin. "There's a lot of rolling hills out there. It's a very deceptive course. I just tried to run this like any other race, and it paid off. I tried to focus and do what I needed to do."
Plotkin was followed at Gentz's Golf Course in Chocolay Township by Cedarville senior Thomas Bohn, who finished runner-up for the third straight season and this time in 17:31.1. Brimley junior Cameron Hoornstra was third at 18:00.5.
Rudyard was crowned Division 3 team champion for the first time in a decade with 72 points, followed by Dollar Bay with 93 and Brimley with 96.
"This was kind of a surprise for me," said Rudyard coach Mark Rice. "I thought we could be runner-up. We depended a lot on our No. 5 runner (sophomore Ross Malaska), and he came through for us. Hayden Mills (who placed fifth at 18:20.1) was working with a little bit of an injury issue a few weeks ago, which I think came from running too many races. We're going to revamp our schedule next year."
All aboard. Here comes the Hematite train!
The Ishpeming boys, who call themselves that, chugged to their second straight Upper Peninsula Division 2 cross country championship Saturday with 27 points.
The title also was the fifth in six years for the Hematites, who were followed by Ironwood with 51 points, Gogebic (Wakefield-Marenisco/Bessemer) at 67 and Norway at 92.
"My wife (Christie) and I start them off in grade school," said Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett. "When cross country season starts, they're ready to go. Our program is very solid. We have a lot of runners coming back next year. The future looks bright."
Ishpeming senior Jonah Broberg earned his first individual title, covering the 3.1-mile event in 17 minutes, 29 seconds. He was followed by Norway sophomore Adam Cavagnetto (17:33.9), Ishpeming junior Jordan Longtine (17:48.6) and Gogebic (Bessemer) senior Adam Mazurek (17:54.5) on this partly sunny, breezy and mild day.
"The wind picked up for our race, which made it very challenging," said Broberg. "But I still won, and running into the wind makes it that much more satisfying. I wanted to go out hard, and the first 800 (meters) was very fast."
Cavagnetto's time was three minutes, 20 seconds better than a year ago.
"It's fun," he said. "I get up in the morning thinking about running and go to bed thinking about running.
"I wanted to go out fast and stay with Jonah and Adam, and I think it worked out very well."
Marquette secured its first Division 1 title in five years with 51 points, followed by 2018 champ Sault Ste. Marie with 57 and Houghton with 63.
"We've alternated No. 1 runners throughout the year and (senior) Hogan Nemetz was our top runner today," said Marquette coach Kyle Detmers. "Sault was right there. Hats off the (coach) Jim Martin. They have a great program, and Houghton has a real good team.
"I appreciate the Gentz family allowing us to use their facility. This is an excellent setting for a meet. I also appreciate the efforts by our athletic director Alex Tiseo, assistant coach Mike Leanes and the many volunteers."
Houghton junior Joe Wood won a Final for the first time in a personal-best 16:57.8, followed by Gladstone sophomore Giovanni Mathews (17:27,6) and Sault junior Jaron Wyma (17:30.8).
"I wanted to stay with the front pack in the beginning," said Wood. "I ran with Giovanni for a while, then I made my move a little after the mile mark. I felt I could break away.
“It feels good to get a PR (personal record). This is definitely a confidence boost and a good way to end the season. Our whole team did pretty well."
Mathews said he was pleased with the overall conditions.
"The weather conditions were great today," he added. "The only problem is it was real windy. We (freshman Drew Hughes and Mathews) had a pretty big gap in the beginning. Only, I think Joe could sense I was feeling it. A couple times, I almost stopped. Joe was in a little better shape today."
PHOTOS: (Top) Cedarville's Thomas Bohn (269), Brimley's Austin Plotkin (236) and Newberry's Ephram Evans (273) run in the UPD3 Final. (Middle) Ishpeming's Jonah Broberg (151), Gogebic’s Adam Murzek (180), Norway's Adam Cavagnetto (166) and Ishpeming's David Liimatta (156) lead the UPD2 race Saturday. (Below) Houghton's Joe Wood (27) runs to the Division 1 title, here followed closely by eventual second-place finisher Giovanni Mathews from Gladstone. (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.)