BROOKLYN – Benne Anderson knew he had his hands full with Seth Norder, so he couldn’t allow himself to worry about the strong wind the Grand Rapids-area rivals were running into for nearly 15 minutes Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
“You kind of just have to ignore it, kind of just push,” Anderson said. “Most of this sport is just mental. You’ve got to lock yourself in and go.”
Anderson, a senior at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, and Norder, a junior at Grand Haven, were locked in a sprint to the finish that appeared to be taking place in slow motion because of the heavy winds.
“It feels like you’re running with weights, like running through snow,” Anderson said.
It was Anderson who overcame the elements and the competition to win the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship with a time of 15:17.32. Norder was a close second in 15:18.95.
Anderson was in the lead as the runners came into view from the finish line area. Norder briefly caught him before Anderson won with one last surge.
“Any time you try to pick up the pace, the wind gets faster and faster and is slowing you down,” Norder said. “It’s really tough. I was able to catch up to him. He just had another gear. He’s a really great runner.”
A year ago, the tables were flipped, with Norder placing second in 15:20.0 behind Hartland’s Riley Hough and Anderson taking third in 15:22.9.
“I was nervous,” Anderson said. “Seth is a crazy runner. I’ve been thinking about beating him today for the whole year. I had to get my revenge from last year. He kind of stole that from me.”
Despite running in the same region of the state, it was only the second encounter this season between Anderson and Norder. They raced each other at the Portage Invitational four weeks ago, with Anderson running 14:44.1 to take second and Norder 14:45.4 to place third. The race was won by eventual four-time Division 3 champion Hunter Jones of Benzie Central.
“We’ve been racing together my whole high school career,” Norder said. “We’ve always been back and forth. I figured it would come down to a sprint-off. That’s what it did at Portage. That’s the only time we raced this year. He ended up getting me in a sprint there. I was hoping to get him here, but I came up a little short.”
Northville, which has been a regular at the MHSAA Finals, won its first team championship by scoring 122 points. Traverse City Central was second with 196 and 2021 champion Brighton was third with 229.
Junior Brendan Herger was third in 15:34.05 to lead Northville, which earned a runner-up finish in 2015. Senior Brady Heron was 14th (15:56.17), sophomore Ethan Powell was 28th (16:13.00), senior Brock Malaikal was 58th (16:31.63) and junior Nicholas Yaquinto was 85th (16:43.45) to complete the Mustangs’ scoring.
Traverse City Central placed Joe Muha (ninth) and Micah Bauer (10th) among the top 10; its next finishers were 47th, 110th and 134th overall.
PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids’ Benne Anderson, left, and Grand Haven’s Seth Norder sprint the stretch of the LPD1 boys championship race. (Middle) Northville’s Brendan Herger pushes toward the finish in placing third for the team champion. (Click for more from Dave McCauley/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.)