“None better in the last 1,000,” is the mantra of the Saline varsity boys cross country team.
It paid off on a hot and humid day at Hudson Mills Metropark, Tuesday, in the SEC Red & White Jamboree.
Saline started conservatively and picked up the pace as the race went on. It worked beautifully and the Hornets came away with an eight-point victory over Pioneer (28-36).
“We knew we would look really awful in the race, and we did. But we were in the right place. We were doing everything we should at that point in the race and it turned out well for us in the end,” Saline coach Carl Spina said. “We had a moderated start and then just hammered it at the end. It was great to see, picking off guys, moving up in the last 1,000.”
Spina said it would be interesting to see scores at various points of the race.
It was a successful start to the SEC season.
“Nobody struggled. Everyone ran well. Everyone was doing their job. Early season, with guys that don’t have a lot of varsity experience, that’s what we want,” Spina said.
Nobody embodied the Saline strategy better than senior Will Minnette.
Minnette finished third, in 16:05.47 - a career-best.
“We knew it was going to be hot and a lot of teams would try to crush the race early on and we that, from past experience, that’s not a very good idea. So coach put together some moderately paced first 1,000-meter splits so we could take the first half of the race relatively easy and start to cruise on the backstretch and have a good finish,” said Minnette.
For Minnette it was a great way to start the SEC season in his senior year. He missed making all-state last year by 1.5 seconds. Minnette beat his state meet time by more than seven seconds, more than enough to make all-state in last year’s race. Naturally, Minnette wants to make the podium this fall. He also wants to break 16 minutes in the 5K and qualify to race at the national level.
Cole Trese (7th, 16:47.3), Jonathan Speers (11th, 16:54.7), Joseph Fedoronko (14th, 17:02.7) and Christopher Van Dyke (17th, 17:13.92) contributed to Saline’s winning score.
Also running for Saline were Emmett Berryhill (23d, 17:24), Nathan Irgang (33rd, 17:48), Max Pfeiffer (35th, 17:51) and Jacob Brunty (36th, 17:52).
The victory was a little surprising.
Saline was ranked eighth in the most recent D1 polls, behind Skyline (ranked third), Dexter (second) and Pioneer (fifth). The race also included Chelsea, ranked fifth in D2. Skyline rested their A team, but otherwise, Saline beat some highly-ranked teams.
The Hornets also continued their reserve race dominance. Saline finished first with 28 points - eight better than Pioneer.
Sophomore James Harrison won the race in 18:12.6. Also finishing in the scoring were Noah Pelletier (4th, 18:28), Andrew Stern (6th, 18:32), Luke Crowner (8th, 18:43) and Cody Stein (9th, 18:47)