BOYS CROSS COUNTRY FINALS: Grand Blanc’s Fisher wins second individual state title; Rockford wins D-1 Team Title
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Grant Fisher added another chapter to his stellar career as a prep distance runner Saturday, even though he felt like there was another opponent out there besides the deep field of talented runners at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 state championships.
“The wind was terrible. It was something else to worry about,” said Fisher, a Grand Blanc senior who is now a two-time state champion.
The wind chill was in the 20s and temps in the low 40s thanks to a brutal, ice cold wind.
“I just pushed through it the best I could,“ added Fisher.
Not only did he win by some 27 seconds, he became just the fifth runner in state history to break the 15-minute barrier at the state finals. He now has the third-fastest state finals time at Michigan Speedway thanks to his 14:52.5 clocking, forever cementing his name amongst the state’s all-time elite.
Former Olympian Dathan Ritzenheim of Rockford ran 14:10.4 in 2000 in D-1, while Jason Hartman, also of Rockford, clocked 14:51.0 in 1998 at the Class A meet. Maverick Darling of Ovid-Elsie ran 14:52.8 in winning the 2007 D-3 crown, while Dustin Voss of Saline posted a 14:54.4 time in winning the D-1 crown in 2003.
“Dathan was in a class of his own. He’s an Olympian and you look at his professional career and he’s the best ever in Michigan,” Fisher pointed out. “I was just trying to win and help my team do as best as it could today. I’m sure my time wasn’t as fast as it would have been on a nice day, but breaking 15 minutes here, a place where there has been so many great runners over the years, is still a great accomplishment. I only broke 15 minutes twice this year.”
Rockford entered the meet ranked third, but had its runner had its collective unit brave the severe, blustery winds to score 140 points and win its first title since 2002 and third overall. Isaac Harding (fourth), freshman Cole Johnson (16th), Paul Burke (57th) and Grayson Harding (58th) paced Rockford.
Ever-improving White Lake Lakeland snuck into the runner-up spot with 146 points, ahead of top-ranked and league rival Waterford Mott (148). Northville (165) and Saline (203) rounded out the top five.
Saline’s Logan Wetzel soared to the second-place position with a 15:19.2 showing. Traverse City Central’s Anthony Berry (15:21.1), Rockford’s Isaac Harding (15:23.2) and Waterford Mott’s Ryan Robinson (15:23.4) were also part of the lead pack.
A total of 37 runners still broke 16 minutes despite the severe conditions, the worst for a state finals day in more than two decades.
DIVISION 2: Morgan Beadlescomb had an opportunity Saturday afternoon and the with 104 points, an junior seized it.
Trailing behind a tight group of runners, he picked off runner after runner during the final mile and captured the Division 2 state title with a 15:30.7 clocking.
Austin Sargent of Cedar Springs (15:42.7, Sturgis’ Daniel Steele (15:43.7), Fremont’s Matthew Zerfas (15:52.7) and Corunna’s Noah Jacobs (15:56.6) followed in his wake. Beadlescomb passed them all during the final two miles.
“I worked so hard since last year, but I think the difference was smart-training. I did some things different than last year and it worked out,” said Beadlescomb. “I thought I had a chance to win, at least be top five. I had a great race and finished very strong. I was able to pull away.”
As expected, top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian on the team title with just 83 points. Fremont was a distant second with 104 points, while East Grand Rapids (199), Clio (208) and St. Joseph also finished in the top five.
“We had an amazing season,” said Grand Rapids Christian coach Doug Jager. “We ran well all season long and fought through these rough conditions to win the state championship.”
DIVISION 3: Lansing Catholic Central’s Keenan Rebera had three goals on the day.
“Win again, beat my time from last year and not have my shoelaces come off (during the race),” said Rebera, who defended his D-3 state title against the blistering wind. “I don’t know if I got my time — it was close. But I still won. “
Rebera, a senior, won comfortably, breaking the tape in 15:30.2, some 14 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.
“I just kept pushing myself — the wind was terrible,” said Rebera. “But we all had to run in it.”
Zac Benham pf Scottville Mason County Central was second (15:44.6), followed by Abe Visser of Grandville Calvin Christian (15:48.3), Cass City’s Bransen Stimpfel (15:56.2) and Michigan Center’s Ben Utz (16:00.1).
Second-ranked Benzonia Benzie Central landed four inside the top 30 and collected 87 points to run away with the D-3 team title. Top-ranked Lansing Catholic Central was a distant second (141), followed by Hanover-Horton (188), Stockbridge (191) and Shepherd (205) in the top five.
DIVISION 4: Jesse Hersha has joined some elite company.
The Concord senior won by some 35 seconds to capture his third straight Division 4 state title, becoming one of just 12 runners over the decades to win three state crowns in their prep careers. He is the third male to do so since the team and individual races were combined in the mid-1990s when all meets were moved over to the same site at Michigan Speedway.
“It was great to win it again. It’s not my best time, but the wind was tough,” said Hersha. “I still won by close to 30 seconds. The wind just picked up and it was very difficult. There was nothing you could do about it. I just kept pushing myself. Pushing myself (with no one around) is hard. That’s what I had to do. I wanted to get a good time. The good testament is how much I won by.”
Santana Scott of Evart finished in 15:54.7, quite a distance behind Hersha’s winning time of 15:23.0. Pung, Ubly’s Adam Grifka (16:29.2) and Kalamazoo Christian’s Doug Hollett (16:31.7) followed in the top five.
Fourth-ranked Beal City surprised the field by collecting 105 points for the title, just ahead of top-ranked Saugatuck (109). Bear Lake-Onekama Unified (121), Concord (123) and Hudson (226) rounded out the top five in the team standings.
Beal City was paced by Nick Pung (third), Ethan Schafer (seventh) and David Reihl (39th).