Preview: New Contenders Emerge

October 21, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Boys Cross Country Finals are guaranteed to crown three first-time individual champions, and one of last season’s team title-winners is expected to be replaced as well at Beauchamp Cross Country Course.

Two-time reigning Division 3 champion Chassell comes into this weekend tied for only the No. 2 ranking in its division, with Brimley and behind favorite Stephenson, which is seeking its first championship since winning Division 2 in 2012.  

Races begin Saturday with the Division 1 boys at 11 a.m. and finish with the Division 3 girls at 2 p.m. Check back Saturday evening for coverage of all six Upper Peninsula Finals, and see below for more teams and individuals to watch. The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.


Reigning champion: Negaunee
2015 runner-up: Sault Ste. Marie
2016 top three: 1. Negaunee, 2. Houghton, 3. Marquette.

Negaunee remains the favorite this weekend returning five of last season’s seven runners including four who finished among the top 14 – reigning runner-up and junior Colton Yesney, and seniors Ethan Wallner (seventh), Thomas Ziegler (ninth) and Mitchell La Belle (14th). Houghton is expected to move up from fourth last season also returning five of their seven runners – junior Seth Helman led the way coming in eighth individually a year ago. Marquette won in 2013 and 2014 but slipped to third last fall; the Redmen return only two from last fall’s line-up but won their fourth straight Great Northern Conference title on the strength of individual champion Luke Rambo, a junior, and junior runner-up Garrett Rudden.

Individuals: Total, nine of last season’s top 15 are back this weekend and looking to follow graduated Marquette champion Lance Rambo. In addition to those mentioned above, Calumet senior Mitchell Delong was 10th in 2015, and Sault Ste. Marie seniors Aaron Kinsella (12th), Andrew Farlow (13th) and Ryan Sanderson (15th) helped their team to a runner-up finish.


Reigning champion: Ishpeming
2015 runner-up: Gogebic
2016 top three: 1. Ishpeming, 2. Munising, 3. Newberry.

The Hematites return three from a lineup that placed all seven runners last season among the top 15 in Division 2. Sophomore Spencer Giroux came in second, seven seconds back, and was followed by now-junior Kyle Pruett (seventh) and Kadin Fox (13th). Munising was fourth in Division 3 last season and graduated that race’s individual champion, Brett Hannah, but brings back its next three finishers led by junior T.J. Wing (10th in Division 3 in 2015).  Newberry also ran in Division 3 a year ago, finishing sixth, but brings back four of its seven from that race including sixth-place now-senior Kindred Griffis.

Individuals: This could be the day’s best individual race, with Giroux working to fend off Ironwood sophomore Nick Niemi, who came in third last year, and four more non-teammates who are back from the top 15. Gogebic sophomores Cade Mazzon and Devon Byers were 12th and 15th last season, respectively, while Powers North Central junior Connor Robinson and senior Seth Polfus came in ninth and 13th.


Reigning champion: Chassell
2015 runner-up: Dollar Bay
2016 top three: 1. Stephenson, T-2. Brimley, T-2. Chassell.

Chassell has won the last two Division 3 titles but could be chasing Stephenson, which finished fifth in 2015 but has back five of last season’s six runners including junior Ethan Brown (eighth) and senior Mark Cappaert (11th). Chassell does bring back five of last season’s top seven, however, led by senior Hunter Rautiola (fifth) and sophomore Ben Tuomi (seventh). Brimley didn’t run at the Final as a team last season but returns one of four individuals who raced.

Individuals: The individual title could be wide open with the top three from last season not in this race. The highest returning placer is Dollar Bay sophomore Brendan LeClaire, who came in fourth – and only five total of the top 15 are back.  

PHOTO: Runners take off during the start of the 2014 Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final.

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/