MARQUETTE — Marquette’s cross country teams are both seeking to continue championship runs at Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Finals at Farmhouse Cross Country Course in Gladstone – the girls for the second-straight season and the boys attempting a fifth-straight title.
Their travels far and wide this fall have the teams confident that success will continue.
The Marquette girls did something Sept. 15 no other Upper Peninsula team had been able to do, winning the Green division race at the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State University by edging Novi 142-143.
That was the first of multiple successful trips downstate, and Marquette also ran exceptionally closer to home and in Wisconsin against some of that state’s elite.
“I think we’re just really excited,” junior Monet Argeropoulos said. “We’re really looking forward to pushing each other as a team. That’s what keeps us strong. We just need to go down there and take care of business.”
Sophomore Ella Fure was seventh individually at MSU, and senor Abby Harma ran ninth against a field of Lower Peninsula Division 1 schools.
“That’s probably the highlight of the season from a team standpoint,” Fure said during Tuesday’s practice at the Marquette High School track. “We were all crying. At first they announced Novi had won from the unofficial results. We were a little disappointed, although we gave our best effort. Then they found a scoring error and discovered we had won. I think a lot of people were really excited. The car ride home was very good. It kind of flew by.”
After dominating the El Harger Invite at Munising on Sept. 26, Marquette traveled downstate and ran in the Shepherd Bluejay Invitational four days later where the boys placed fifth and the girls were 16th in the Elite division.
“It’s real different running downstate. We needed to get used to that situation and become more comfortable. I think our athletes know what to expect down there now,” Marquette coach Derek Marr said. “(The girls’) confidence really grew after winning at MSU, and a lot of that carried over into Shepherd.
“Many coaches believed the U.P. teams couldn’t compete downstate, and that upset me. I think we can compete with anybody if we believe in ourselves. We’ve trying to break that limitation.”
Marquette opened this season with two victories at home, dominating the Queen City Invitational on Aug. 18 and edging Macomb Dakota for the title in the Wildcat Invite on Aug. 26.
“I think that set the tone,” Harma said. “Downstate runners come up here for camps. They’re very fast. It’s easier to run fast with faster people. Winning the Spartan Invitational was very exciting, and three of us going under 20 minutes at Shepherd was a highlight. It has been a long time since a team from Marquette has done that.”
“I would say we had an exceptional season,” added junior Seppi Camilli, who covered the 3.1-mile course at Shepherd in a personal-best 16 minutes, two seconds. “Derek and Paige (assistant coach DuBois) did a great job preparing us. The girls winning by one point at Spartan was definitely the highlight. Competing downstate allowed us to exemplify our depth and talent. I think it makes us execute to show our skills.”
Senior Cullen Papin had similar thoughts about the early-season meets.
“Everybody showed up and really worked hard in our first meet,” Papin said. “In the Wildcat meet it was good to get pushed by the biggest school in the state, and it came down to a sixth-runner tie-breaker. That’s what it’s all about. It shows every runner is important.”
The Marquette boys were runners-up to nationally-ranked Stevens Point, Wis., at Neenah, and the girls placed fourth.
“That was definitely a confidence builder going down to Neenah,” Papin said. “It was exciting to see all the hard work the girls put in really pay off against some of the D-1 powers in the state at Spartan, and all seven of us going under 16:50 at Shepherd was cool. There’s lots of good teams down there.
“The atmosphere in practice is pretty good.”
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTOS (Top) Marquette's Ella Fure (526), Monet Argeropoulos (514) and Abby Harma (527) make up part of an early pack during the Wildcat Invitational. (Middle) Marquette's Seppi Camilli (497) runs to first place in the boys Wildcat race held on the campus of Northern Michigan University. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)
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.)