At the two-mile mark on Saturday at a cold and rainy Michigan International Speedway, Nick Foster and the Pioneer boys’ cross country team were more than a few steps behind in the MHSAA Division 1 state finals.
But when the Pioneers hit the 1200-meter mark, they switched gears and raced to a first-place finish with 107 points, only three better than second-place Plymouth. White Lake Lakeland was third (130), Romeo fourth (142) and Saline fifth (246).
Skyline finished with 267 points to finish seventh.
Before the race, Foster summed up his chances this way: “Anyone else in the state I feel I can beat them if we are even heading down the stretch. My strength is finishing strong. But (Cole Johnson) was the state champion in the mile and second in the 800 in track so he’s got some speed. It would be interesting because we both finish hard.”
Foster was 50 meters behind Johnson with 1200 meters to go but used “his strength” to finish strong and outkick the Rockford senior across the finish line. Foster, only a junior, finished first in 15 minutes, 16.1 seconds. Johnson was second in 15:18.2.
The Pioneers, who won every race they started, had three other runners finish in the top 30. Senior Aldo Pando-Girard had his best race of the year and finished 20th in 15:59.1.Junior John Florence came on very strong to finish 25th (16:11.5), just one place ahead of teammate senior Jack Wallace (16:12.0) to give the Pioneers a very strong three-four finish.
Senior Philip Valtadoros had his best race of the year and was fifth man on the team finishing 35th in 16:15.9.
Also running for the Pioneers were junior Ethan Mielock (62nd, 16:29.8) and senior Michael Shkolnik (65th, 16:32.3).
Skyline was led by senior Anthony Giannobile, who went 15:40.0 to finish 10th overall. Junior Tristan Williams was 23rd overall (16:10.1); junior Jesse Edelstein was 36th (16:16.0); senior Justin Michele was 80th (16:44.3) and junior Keegan Oldani was 118th in 17:04.4.
Sophomore Daniel Evans finished in 17:09.3 and senior Liam Smith finished in 17:16.6 for the Eagles.
Huron sophomore Karsin Dass finished 121st in 16:45.3 and Huron senior Connor Wright finished 155th in 16:57.3.