Rababeh, Lakeland Earn Long-Awaited Wins

November 5, 2016

Second Half reports

BROOKLYN – What Dearborn’s Riad Rababeh accomplished with a minimal amount of work was pretty remarkable.

It got him wondering what he could do if he trained with a purpose for his senior season of cross country.

The result of his effort was the MHSAA Division 1 individual championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Rababeh had the fastest time of the day in all four divisions, posting a 15:24.8 on a course that had some muddy sections to win by a 16-second margin over Alpena senior Mitchell Day.

A year ago, Rababeh shocked himself by placing eighth in the MHSAA meet in 15:30.8. The year before, he was 124th in 16:45.7. As a freshman, he was 32nd in his Regional in 17:38.3, which didn’t come close to qualifying for the MHSAA Finals.

“My junior year, I didn’t do anything,” he said. “Then I went into cross country season and ran 15:30 at states and puked my brains out. This year, I peaked around 65 miles in the summer and I was doing a lot of workouts and a lot of good stuff. I legitimately trained this summer, and it paid off in the end.”

This year’s race was expected to be a battle between Day and Rockford junior Cole Johnson, who were second and third, respectively, last season. With newfound fitness, Rababeh joined the two of them at the front, then began to pull away at 2.5 miles.

He became the first Dearborn runner since 1930 to win the MHSAA individual boys cross country title, something he never imagined when he was far back in the pack two years ago.

“Maybe top 50, I was hoping, but my junior year just accelerated into something beyond what I ever thought it would be,” Rababeh said. “Now I’m here.”

In the team competition, White Lake Lakeland won its first MHSAA championship since taking back-to-back Class A crowns in 1996 and 1997. Lakeland, ranked fourth in the state, scored 125 points to easily beat runner-up Saline, which had 198.

Birmingham Brother Rice was third with 220, while top-ranked Novi was fourth with 225.

Lakeland put four runners in the top 26 in the team race. Sophomore Harrison Grzymkowski led the Eagles, finishing third overall and second among team runners in 15:51.4.

Also scoring for Lakeland were senior Zack Werth (21st, 16:18.6), senior Joel Woody (25th, 16:22.7), junior Drew Wenger (26th, 16:23.8) and junior Angelo Savich (51st, 16:43.0).

None of the other team contenders had more than two runners in the top 39 in the team scoring.

Click for full results.

The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.

PHOTOS: (Top) Dearborn’s Riad Rababeh (206) stays a pace ahead of contenders Cole Johnson of Rockford and Mitchell Day of Alpena. (Middle) White Lake Lakeland’s Harrison Grzymkowski pushes through to finish third and lead his team to a championship. (Click to see 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.

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/RunMichigan.com.)