Potter's House Sweeps Top 3 Places, LPD4 Team & Individual Titles

November 5, 2022

BROOKLYN – This year, it wasn’t just about individual glory for Lezawe Osterink.

As soon as Osterink crossed the finish line after winning his second MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 cross country championship Saturday, his thoughts turned to his Wyoming Potter’s House Christian teammates who were still on the course.

He didn’t have to wait long for his friends to join the postrace party.

Potter’s House became the first boys team to sweep the first three places in an MHSAA Final since the meet moved to Michigan International Speedway in 1996. The Pumas’ fourth and fifth runners weren’t too much farther back, giving Potter’s House a Division 4-record winning score of 35 points.

“Last year, we weren’t as good as this,” Osterink said. “It was more of an individual focus. This year, we can really win it and hopefully get that record. It was exciting. I love training with them.”

Osterink dominated the field, winning by 24.01 seconds in 15:36.84. Although he was running solo up front, he was aware of what was taking place behind him.

Teammates Logan Swiney (1949) and Jackson Rodriguez follow down the closing stretch as the Pumas swept the top three places. “I could hear them,” he said. “Our coach got around to almost all the spots. He was updating me on how they were doing.

“That’s just sweet. I don’t think any team in the state can do that right now. It’s cool to get 1-2-3 and the other guys following.”

The Pumas’ score is the third-lowest for a boys team at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula championships since 1956. The only lower scores both took place in 2006 when Pinckney won Division 1 with 27 points and Dexter won Division 2 with 28.

It was the first MHSAA cross country championship for the Pumas, who were 11th in 2020 and 12th last season. Potter’s House hadn’t qualified for the Finals before 2020.

Senior Logan Swiney was second in 16:00.85, and junior Jackson Rodriguez was third in 16:07.23 to complete the Pumas’ 1-2-3 sweep. Completing the team score were junior Ian Palacio, who was 11th overall and seventh in the team race in 16:42.91; and junior Noah Finton, who was 30th overall and 22nd in the team race in 17:18.00. All five scoring runners made all-state.

“It’s weird, because we’ve been thinking about it for so long,” Swiney said. “Ever since our first meet, we knew we could do it. It’s constantly putting in the work, and it worked out.”

Training with a Finals championship-caliber team brought out the best in all of the Pumas’ runners.
“In workouts, to have someone around your skill level, it does a lot,” Rodriguez said. “We push each other every day in practice. In races, you can push each other there, too.”

Johannesburg-Lewiston finished second with 101 points, while Petoskey St. Michael was third with 153.

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PHOTOS (Top) Wyoming Potter’s House Christian’s Lezawe Osterink crosses the finish line first in the LPD4 Final on Saturday at MIS. (Middle) Teammates Logan Swiney (1949) and Jackson Rodriguez follow down the closing stretch as the Pumas swept the top three places. (Click for more from 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.

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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.)