by Richard Lamb-Outlook Publisher
A cold and windy track greeted the runners at the Michigan High School Athletic Association state finals Saturday. When the runners hit the course, set around Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, temperatures were below freezing with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. Rain and some snow from the night before left the track wet at best and soupy in some places.
The back portion of the course had several mud holes; while the home-stretch, run on the infield grass next to the racetrack, was very soft and slippery.
Onaway senior Joe Traynham made a great showing at the event. He knocked nearly a minute off his time from last year’s finals and improved 52 places. Traynham finished 40th at 17:29.5 in the boys’ Division 4 final.
In the 2013 finals, he placed 92nd with a time of 18:13.6. He was the only Onaway runner to compete at the event.
The MIS hosts eight races for all four divisions of boys’ and girls’ teams. The start of the races has all the runners lined up on the north end of the speedway, where they run south through the infield until they take a left turn across the dirt-covered paved racetrack and run close to two miles through what is the parking area for NASCAR races.
After weaving around outside of the track, runners then cross back over the track on the backstretch, run on the grass below turns three and four, and finish on the infield grass between the grandstand and pit row. The infield grass had a taller cut, making for a heavy drag for runners in the last half-mile of the course.
Concord’s Josh Hersha repeated as individual champion with a time of 15:23.0. Beal City won the boys’ team championship with a score of 105, including two runners in the top 10.
The Rogers City girls’ team finished 22nd place in Division 4 with 506 team points. Each of the runners who ran in the 2013 race improved on their times, despite the poor conditions.