By Nick Misiak
Ocelot runners open season at Falcon 5K
The Schoolcraft Mens Cross Country team opened its season on Aug. 9, participating in the Falcon 5K held at Divine Child High School in Dearborn for the seventh consecutive year. With just one week of organized practice under their belts, this event served as a first look at the team’s conditiontioning after a long offseason.
Last fall the Falcon 5k had the largest participation for the Ocelot men since the team began running the event. Unfortunately this year participation was at its lowest , with only three runners participating. Although the Ocelots only fielded a handful of runners, all were award winners in this race.
Leading the group of Ocelots was last year’s top runner Ethan Levack. Levack finished the race in 18:44, which was nearly identical to his time a year ago, of 18:43. He was followed by teammate Caton Hacker, who finished in 19:19, an improvement on his time of 19:53 in the 2013 race. Freshman Liam Cardenas, who, after battling illness and health issues, is working his way back to the mid 16-minute form that he was at in eleventh grade. He rounded out the team, finishing in 20:37.
Also particpating in the Falcon 5k was Scott Howse. This will be Howse’s seventh season with the team, though he is no longer eligible to compete officially as a team member. In 2010, he was the first ever special needs Community College student to become an Academic All-American. His time in the 5K was 19:26.
Overall, the Falcon 5k proved to be a promising early start for the current 2014 team members.
Cardenas highlights Ocelots showing at Crim
On Saturday, Aug. 23, the Mens Cross Country team traveled to Flint for the 38th Annual Crim Road Races. This year, three Schoolcraft runners opted to go the longer distance of 8K, which is a change from the previous years 5K option that the all the team members ran.
In the 5k event, freshman Liam Cardenas continued to recover well from a year of illness, as he finished fifth overall in a field of 1,492 runners with a time of 19:07 (6:08 mile pace), which was faster than his time of 20:37 in his first race. Cardenas’s significant improvement over two weeks is promising considering he is the lone freshman on the team.
Also in the 5k was returning letter winner and last year’s most improved runner, Brandon Sutton. Late last fall, Sutton suffered an injury to his right knee, and it was later discovered that he tore his ACL and meniscus. He had surgery to repair his knee in March, and now is fully recovered, but has a way to go to gain the endurance he had last year. His time in this race was over 8 minutes slower than his best time last year.
The 8K race had 816 competitors. Sophomore Caton Hacker completed the distance in 32:00 (6:26) and finished ninth overall in the field. Teammate and fellow second year runner Ethan Levack finished 26th overall in 35:38 (7:10). In 2013, Levack was the team’s top runner and was a competitor at the National Championships. Up to the 8K, Levack performed well in the other meets he participated in this year. Also running was Scott Howse, who was 17th overall in the race and was the first finisher in his age group with a time of 33:33 (6:45).
The featured event at the Crim Festival was the 10-mile race, which awarded a $5,000 prize to the winner. Julius Koga, a Kenyan distance runner, won the event for the fifth consecutive year with a time of 46:35 averaged to 4:39.5 per mile.
Strong showing at Grizzly Invitational
On Friday, Aug. 29, the Mens Cross Country team participated in the Golden Grizzly Invitational at Oakland University.
For the first time since 2011, the temperature was reasonable for the invitational , unlike the last three years which have been plagued by extremely hot and uncomfortable conditions. This year brought a mild and sunny 70-degree-day along with good track conditions, which made for perfect race.
The invitational was run on a 6 km (3.73 miles) course, a distance not often run in cross-country races, which is normally 5 km. Rebounding nicely from his dismal race at the Crim, sophomore Ethan Levack led the team from the start, coming through the first two-mile points in 5:37 and 11:54 and finishing the race in 23:11 (6:14 per mile). Fellow sophomore Caton Hacker was not far behind with splits of 5:40 and 12:07 and a finish time of 23:31 (6:19 per mile). Also within range was freshman Liam Cardenas at 5:47, 12:10, finishing just 11 seconds behind Caton with a time of 23:42 (6:22).
Still recovering from his major injury, Brandon Sutton looked much better the first half of the race with splits of 6:39 and 14:36 and finished in 29:44 (8:00 per mile).
The fastest Schoolcraft runner who ever ran a 6K was Mark Freyberg, who clocked 21:39 in 2010 when he was a contender for All-American status.
For a complete race schedule, go to http://www.mccaa.org/schedule/16/2.php.