The Hanover-Horton High School boys’ cross country team won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state title at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
Garrett Melling of Hanover-Horton High School made a move two months ago at the Springport Invitational that somewhat surprised Coach Dean Blackledge.
He took a step away from the pack and became the leader.
The leader-of-the-pack mentality became contagious as everyone wanted to be the king of the hill.
The result was a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state title Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
The Comets finished with 146 points to defeat Grandville Calvin Christian (183) and Charlevoix (184).
It is the second boys’ state title for Hanover-Horton in three years.
“Garrett took a risk by getting out of the pack,” Blackledge said. “Then Andy (Swihart) and Dean (Reynolds) followed.
“We didn’t run great today, but we were the toughest team out there who loves to compete.”
Two days of rain made for a muddy track at MIS – especially in the final one kilometer.
“It was a lot better out there than I thought,” Melling said of the course. “We like to work hard because the last race can result in a trophy.”
Melling finished eighth overall in 16 minutes, 21 seconds. Reynolds finished two spots behind him despite running on a sprained ankle.
“I was coming down the stairs, slipped, and twisted my ankle,” Reynolds said. “It took me 30 minutes to even walk.”
Reynolds said the competitive nature of his teammates is what drives the Comets.
“Nobody likes to lose, so we trained harder than anyone,” Reynolds said. “When we see someone beating us, we want to be better.”
Rogan Melling finished in 17:17, Andy Swihart ran the course in 17:28, and Logan Shepherd ran 17:41 for the Comets’ team score.
Garrett Melling and Reynolds earned all-state honors by finishing in the top 30.
Napoleon High School finished 17th overall in Division 3 as Alex Darnell ran 17:20; Hugo Gamez finished in 17:40; Austin Smith was timed in 17:54; Brandon Mitchell ran 18:45; and Brenden Yob broke 19 minutes running the course in 18:59.
Vandercook Lake runner Andrew Frohm finished second overall to earn all-state honors. Frohm ran the course in 16:13. Freshman Hunter Jones of Benzie Central High School won the D-3 race in 15:45.
“I planned on being in the top five in the state,” Frohm said. “The course got a little worse after the first three races.
“You had to take quicker steps and be lighter on your feet (in the mud).”
Lumen Christi senior Gene Hendrickson finished in 46th place in 17:06 in the Division 3 race.
In Division 4, sophomore Jonathan Mikovits ran a personal best time of 16:25 to finished fourth overall. He earned all-state honors for a second consecutive year.
“It was a rough course because of the mud,” Mikovits said. “You had to attack the good spots and understand that everyone was running slower.”
The Yellow Jackets finished eighth overall in Division 4. Concord should have a bright future as five of their seven runners competing on Saturday are underclassmen.
“We have to get all of the guys to work hard over the summer and put in miles,” Mikovits said.
Senior Matt Record finished in 18:10; Joe Bulko was right behind him with the same time; Cole Thompson ran 18:31; and Bryan Smith ran 18:36 for the Yellow Jackets.
Daniel Casey of Jackson Prep finished 65th in Division 4 in 17:57.
In Division 2, Western High School sophomore Jacob Singleton finished 48th overall in 16:52. He was the only local qualifier in Division 2.