Second Half reports
BROOKLYN — Carter Solomon doesn’t mind losing a cross country race.
For the Plymouth junior, it’s all about the competition.
He got plenty in the form of Ann Arbor Pioneer senior Nick Foster, but Solomon got the victory he really wanted by leading Plymouth to its first championship at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 meet Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
The Wildcats were runners-up by three points last year, but came through in another close meet to edge surprising Walled Lake Central, 122-127.
Walled Lake Central came into the meet ranked No. 11, but this meet didn’t necessarily go according to form, with the exception of Plymouth. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1, but none of the other teams ranked in the top three finished there when it mattered most.
“I’m so proud of those guys after last year being runner-up,” Plymouth coach Jon Mikosz said. “To have the pressure on them all year and to be able to come back and pull it off is amazing.”
Solomon led the way, finishing second in 15:18.1. He battled Foster, the reigning champion, step for step until the Pioneer senior pulled away with the finish line in sight to win in 15:13.0.
“Unfortunately, this is only the second time I’ve raced him this year,” Solomon said. “The previous year, we raced three or four times. I love racing against him. I love racing against competition. It makes the race that much more fun.
“I love going out to races like this and testing myself. In a few weeks, I’m going to the Foot Locker regional. I know that’s a really stacked race. I’m super excited for that. I knew Nick was going to be there the whole race. He closed a lot harder than I did.”
Foster and Solomon were part of a five-man lead pack at the two-mile mark. Foster said he believed he could prevail if it came down to a kick at the end.
“I was pretty confident,” he said. “I knew a couple of those guys can finish pretty strong. I knew it wouldn’t come easy. With 700 meters to go, I felt good. I knew Carter was on me. I just had to keep going right through the finish. It was tough, but this is my third year doing it, so I knew it was going to be tough. But, like last year, I realized I have more left than I think.”
Walled Lake Central ran with a tight pack, its five scoring runners separated by only 16.2 seconds. The Vikings couldn’t overcome Plymouth’s strength near the front.
Following Solomon for the Wildcats were sophomore Patrick Byrnes (15th, 15:56.2), senior Brandon Boyd (33rd, 16:13.8), senior Jarrett Warner (60th, 16:31.9) and junior Tyler Mussen (63rd, 16:34.8).
PHOTOS: (Top) Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Nick Foster (11), Plymouth’s Carter Solomon (111) and Brighton’s Zachary Stewart (36) lead the pack near the midway point of the Division 1 Final. (Middle) Plymouth’s Patrick Byrnes pushes down the final stretch. (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.)