By Mike Moore
JTV Sports Writer
Concord – He was the best there was.
On his team, in the area, in the region, in Division 4 — maybe in all of the state.
That, more or less, sums up the senior season, and career, Concord High’s Jesse Hersha had.
“He’s the best. He’s the No. 1 runner we’ve ever had here,” Concord cross country coach Dave Jordon said.
What else can really be said?
On Nov. 1, in the D-4 final, Hersha won his third-consecutive state championship, finishing first overall in a time 15:23.0.
“It’s absolutely amazing to think about,” he added. “Hardly anyone wins one title. Nobody wins two. To win three, you can’t even describe. It’s incredible.”
“It feels great, to go through all three years of it, and be able to be successful without any injuries, was awesome,” Hersha said. “My goal this year wasn’t just to win, it was to go out and do so with a great time.”
That much he accomplished.
The nearest runner behind Hersha finished more than 30 seconds later.
“He just went out and took charge from the start,” Jordon said. “It started with Spencer (Nousain) winning it four years ago. Jesse saw what it took to win. He hates to lose. He went out as a sophomore and ran with the lead runners, and as the race developed he was able to take charge and move up and come out on top. Last year, he had to learn to go out, be the favorite and be the leader. This year was just going out and dominating. That’s what he did.”
The final run was just a final exclamation point on his brilliant career.
Hersha earned All-State four times, was a three-time conference champ, four times All-Conference, was a part of state champion teams in 2011 and 2012, won four team regionals, four team conference titles, 16 jamboree titles, finished first as an individual in 12 jamborees, and for good measure, holds the school and county record of 15:07.
“It was amazing,” Jordon said of Hersha’s career. “Very exciting for him. As a coach, it’s something you’re so proud of. The great tradition we’ve had here continues, and he’s played such a huge role in that.”
Jordon said Nousain, another all-world runner for Concord, was a huge help to Hersha. Nousain was a senior and won an individual state title in 2011, when Hersha was a freshman.
“It showed him what you had to do to be successful,” Jordon said. “Jesse is a kid that took that work ethic to a different level. If he was going to get beat, it wasn’t because he didn’t prepare.”
“When Spencer was a state champ, I saw how many miles he had put in, and I saw what it took to be good,” Hersha said. “The day after the state finals, when coach said I could be a state champ as a sophomore, I knew what it would it take to accomplish that. I didn’t really believe it, but I wanted to work for it.”
Hersha is one of only 13 runners in MHSAA history to win three individual state titles.
“We’re going to miss him,” Jordon said simply. “You give up the top position, it changes the whole team. You hope someone else can step up. I mean, we’re losing his ability, but also the example he set for these younger guys who followed him as a leader.”
This story will appear in the Nov. 13 issue of The Recorder. The Recorder is available for purchase at the PS Food Mart, Brigham Hardware, and The Salesman in Concord; Weatherwax Pharmacy and Hutch’s in Spring Arbor; and Pulaski Mall;, as well as news stands in Albion and Springport.