MHSAA Michigan State Finals
Saturday, November 4, 2006 - Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn MI
DyeStat On-Site with Steve Underwood and Pat Davey
Results from mhsaa.com - Div. 1 - Div. 2 - Div. 3 - Div. 4 - "Dream Race"
Preview - Listen to MHSAA Audio Broadcast
Dexter, Pinckney: "Everybody Wins"
Powerhouse frontrunners: David Emery of Pinckney (left) pulled away to lead the Pirates to a 27-pt. total in the D-1 race. Minutes earlier, Bobby Aprill (315) nosed out teammate Dan Jackson in the D2 race as Dexter posted 28. Photos by Davey, runmichigan.com
Leaders of the pack: At left, The D-1 top group early included (from left) eventual winner Carlie Green (1077), Nicole Hammer, Katie Haines (1133), Rachel Patterson (1129), and Audrey Huth (1175). At right, Marissa Treece went wire to wire for her third straight D-4 title. Photos by Davey, runmichigan.com
An Amazing Day, Records or Not
By Steve Underwood
MW#1/US#1 Dexter and MW#6 Pinckney put up the lowest winning totals for a Lower Peninsula state meet in 67 years as they won the Div. 2 and Div. 1 boys races, respectively, Saturday at the MHSAA Michigan Lower Peninsula State Finals.
Both teams, ranked #1 in the state all year in their classes, got 1-2 individual finishes for their victories. In the earlier D-2 race, Dexter jr Bobby Aprill and sr teammate Dan Jackson sprinted in ahead of St. Clair jr standout Addis Habtewold and took the first two spots in 15:15 each (0.6 seconds separated them). The Dreadnaughts’ next three came in at 5-8-12 (adjusted) for 28 points.
The subsequent D-1 race saw sr David Emery take over the lead mid-race and jr Mike Katsefaras surge in for 2nd for a Pirate 1-2, with times of 15:34 and 15:39. By going 7-8-9 with their next three, they racked up 27 points. Dexter did wind up with the best team average, a 15:32 to Pinckney’s 15:48.
At the meet, it was thought by the teams, and most media and officials present, that the previous all-time low score was 39 (Monroe in 1988). But historian and statistician Jeff Hollobaugh’s research (see http://www.michtrack.org/XCrecords.htm) reveals that Pinckney’s total is 2nd on the all-time D-1/Class A list and tied for 5th overall, while Dexter is tied for 4th in D-2/Class B and tied for 7th overall. The last time a score of 27 or better was posted was 1939 (Niles, 22), while the last 28 was in 1943 (Ypsilanti).
Meanwhile, Ovid-Elsie jr Maverick Darling ran the 4th-best time of the day, 15:23, to win D-3 individually, while Erie-Mason held off Williamston to win the team race with 77 points. In D-4, the titles went to Waldron jr Tim Jagielski (16:06) and Hesperia (148 points).
For the girls, two of Michigan’s finest-ever runners were going for their third straight titles, but just one made to the top. First, it was Maple City Glen Lake sr. Marissa Treece three-peating in D-4 with a solo 17:54. Later in the day, Monroe Jefferson sr Bekah Smeltzer went for it in D-2, but she finished 3rd behind Parma Western soph Meggan Freeland (18:03) and the runner she nipped at the tape last year, Bloomfield Hills Lahser jr Erin LaFave.
The fastest race of the day for girls was in D1, though, where three broke 18 and nine at 18:15 or better. Highland Milford sr Carlie Green ran a faster last mile than anyone in the four divisions as she powered away to win in 17:49. The D-3 champ was Benzie Central soph Devyn Ramsay in 18:31.
Each of the girls team battles was pretty close, but none more so than in D-1. Rochester Adams led Livonia Churchill through two runners, relinquished that lead through four, then tied them with their 5th. With both teams scoring 112, it was Rochester Adams’ sixth runner that won it for them.
In the D-2 race, Grand Rapids Christian built a lead through four runners and held off East Grand Rapids and East Lansing, 134-147-149. In D-3, Jackson Lumen Christi’s first and fifth runners made the difference in knocking off top-ranked Leroy Pine River, 136-149. Taking the D-4 race was Grand Rapids Northpointe Christian with 105, with Potterville winning a tight battle for 2nd.
Several teams that have made national or regional rankings this fall, as well as a hearty handful of individuals that rank as Foot Locker contenders, will display their talents on what should be a fairly cold but fair Saturday for the MHSAA Michigan State Finals at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn MI. Some of them will be remembered as among the best in state history.
Boys: Dexter’s Domination
The biggest story in Michigan all year has been the Dexter boys, the top-ranked D2 team from day one that’s looking to win its 5th-straight title. The Dreadnaughts have steadily ascended the regional and national ladder and stand #1 in the Midwest Nike Team National (NTN) rankings and #4 in The Harrier’s Top 25 going into their race.
In its showdowns with D1 #1 Pinckney, during the Portage and Gabriel Richard Invitationals, Dexter showed its mettle against what were top-notch fields overall. At Portage, they scored 62 to Pinckney’s 100 and defeated many of the state’s other top teams in each division. That meet was also a showcase for junior Bobby Aprill, whose 15:15 there is probably the top boys performance of the year. Also the champion at Holly, he will be favored to win the D2 title and ring up the fastest time of the day.
Since Portage, Dexter has focused more on pack running, which it did in eye-popping fashion at Gabriel Richard. There they tallied 15 points against Pinckney and a field that was nearly as strong as Portage’s. They have gone on to ring up 15s at their league and region meets, an almost unprecedented feat. Along with Aprill, that pack features seniors Dan Jackson, Ryan Neely (regional champ), and junior Ben Steavenson, as well as soph Jason Bishop.
Could another 15 happen at MIS? Unlikely, as St. Clair’s Addis Habtewold, Fenton’s Joe Dimambro and perhaps others will push Aprill and spread out the Dreadnaughts somewhat. Still, they could post a score for the ages. Although they will be fighting it out for second, #2 Fremont, #3 Sparta, and #4 Fenton are three outstanding squads.
Back to the individual race, the D2 battle should also be tops, though there are some outstanding runners in D1 and D3 as well. Don’t forget Dexter’s Jackson, who was considered the state’s top returnee this fall, but has struggled with illness and injury. He has still been right there in the pack and, with 9:10 2-mile chops from last spring, is still as talented as anyone out there. Nathan Martin of Three Rivers and Seth Bjorlie of Forest Hills Eastern are dark horses to watch.
The D1 race will be Pinckney’s chance to shine alone again, and they will be a strong favorite to defend their title. The NTN Midwest #6 Pirates’ most dominant showing of the year was at the Spartan Invitational, where they put all of their runners in the top 10 against what was a huge, talented field. Senior Brenden Marcum won that race, while the top Pirate at Portage was David Emery. Coach Tom Carney’s squad is deep and balanced, and on a given day, any or all of them could shine near the top.
Team-wise, the biggest threats to Pinckney are probably #3 Ann Arbor Pioneer, #2 Warren de LaSalle. and #4 Novi.
In the D1 individual race, Robbie Fisher of Grosse Pointe North, 3rd last year, is probably the favorite. He ruled the D1 race at Holly and posted the top D1 boys time in the mixed Portage race. Monroe’s Cole Sanseverino and Birmingham Brother Rice’s Anthony Wile also return from last year’s top ten.
In D3, there should be a great individual battle between last year’s 1-2, Maverick Darling of Ovid-Elsie and Matt Lutzke of Williamston, as well as Manistee’s Aaron Simoneau, the Portage D3 winner. Team-wise, the top two teams from Portage, Erie-Mason and Jackson Lumen Christi, are 1-2 in the rankings. Defending champ Williamston has had its ups and downs, but certainly could win convincingly on a good day where their runners return to form.
The D4 race will likely be led by Hesperia and Saugatuck, ranked 1-2 and having finished the same way at Portage. Alex Harris of Royal Oak Shrine (4th) and Nick Swisher of Bear Lake (5th) are the top returnees from last year. Portage D4 champ Victor Ramirez of Wyoming Lee should also be strongly considered.
Girls: Drama in D1; Smeltzer, Treece go for three-peats
Whereas a great deal of state power has shifted to D2 for Michigan boys, the biggest class is still generally the most dominant for the girls. And the girls D1 race should definitely be good for some team and individual drama.
For much of the year, highlighted by a dominant win at Spartan, top-ranked Rockford (NTN Midwest #6) has looked like the team to beat in D1. But lately its big three of Katie Haines, Brittany Dixon, and Rachel Wittum has broken down somewhat, with Wittum struggling through a possible stress fracture and Dixon falling off a bit. On the other hand, Haines has been running as well as ever, highlighted by a monster 17:50 win at the region last weekend in bad weather.
If Rockford falters, several others could come through for a win with a big day. #3 Okemos was ranked in the NTN Midwest at season’s start, but had a horrible race at Spartans. At Portage, they showed signs of recovery with a great runner-up finish. While last year’s #2 Allie Pugh has run with and was eventually sidelined with a stress fracture, #1 Danielle Dakroub has continued to lead and the Chieftains’ pack has rounded into form.
But #2 Livonia Churchill (NTN Midwest #9), a balanced team led by Megan Maceratini at regionals, will also be ready to pounce with a good race. #4 Rochester Adams, #5 Saline, and #6 Clarkston – the defending champs three years running – could also be spoilers. Coach Jamie LaBrosse’s Lady Wolves lost #1 Stephanie Morgan to out-of-state transfer to start the year, but his young talent has come on strong. Troy could be a factor, too.
Individually, Haines is certainly a leading candidate for the D1 crown, finishing 2nd last year. Grand Haven’s Becca Addison (3rd) is another top returnee, as are Livonia Stevenson’s Courtney Calka (5th), Rochester Adams’ Rachel Patterson (7th), and Grand Ledge’s Emily Langenberg (8th). Saline’s Alex Leptich is the top freshman contender for the crown.
D2 has been dominated by Grand Rapids teams this year (and recent years), and Saturday should see #1 Grand Rapids Christian in the driver’s seat, with #2 East Grand Rapids and #3 GR Forest Hills Eastern also in the running. All compete in the same region and finished in that order. #4 East Lansing probably has the best chance to break up the sweep; if the inconsistent Trojans show the form they did at region, they could be a force.
Individually, last year’s D2 race was a thriller, with Monroe-Jefferson’s Rebekah Smeltzer and Bloomfield Hills Lahser’s Erin LaFave battling to the line with both clocking 17:44, two of the best three times of the day. At the start of this fall, Smeltzer looked like she could dominate the division and win her third straight, but then struggled with mid-season injury. LaFave started the season injured, but has since come on.
Meanwhile, however, Parma Western’s Meggan Freeland, a narrow runner-up to Smeltzer in last spring’s blazing D2 3200, has won Portage and is now the favorite – despite being just 12th last year. Other dangerous contenders include Holland Christian’s Brooke Ellers and Comstock Park’s Jazmine Ford, 3rd and 4th last year, and Grand Rapids Christian’s Alyssa Penning.
Defending individual champs will also return in D3 and D4 for the girls. Newaygo junior Mikal Beckman has struggled somewhat this fall, but still has a chance to defend her D3 title. Adrienne Pasatula of Hillsdale was 12th last year, but her win at Portage showed she might be the favorite. Team-wise, Leroy Pine River is ranked #1, followed by traditional power #2 Jackson Lumen Christi and #3 Hillsdale.
In D4, on the other hand, defending champ Marissa Treece should dominate the field for a three-peat and could post the best time of the day. Her Maple City Glen Lake squad moved up to D1 at Spartan and she took the field. At Portage, she dominated D4 in 17:59, but then saw Freeland barely top her time for best of the day. In the D4 team race, #1 Potterville and #2 Grand Rapids Northpoint look to duke it out.
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