Plymouth's boys cross country team ran to its first state title on Saturday in Brooklyn at Michigan International Speedway.
"They're a good group of kids," Plymouth coach Jon Mikosz said. "For them to come in with the pressure of being the No. 1 team and deliver is really impressive. Our top five guys have been consistent all year."
Plymouth, which had a five-point edge over Walled Lake Central (122-127), finished second last year to Ann Arbor Pioneer, which finished sixth this season.
"I think it's redemption for these guys," Mikosz said. "It's pretty much the same team we had last year. The guys are like family. Their hard work paid off, and I'm so proud of them."
Pioneer senior Nick Foster was the overall winner for the second consecutive year. He finished in 15 minutes, 13 seconds, five seconds ahead of Plymouth's Carter Solomon. Foster took the lead in the last half-mile, and Solomon's push in the last 100 meters wasn't enough to catch the two-time champ.
"It was competitive, and that's the kind of race Nick (Foster) runs the best," Pioneer coach Don Sleeman said. "When it comes down to being a competitor, no one's better than Nick."
Foster has lost only one race over the last two seasons.
"Cross county is about going after the competition and letting the time take care of itself," Sleeman said. "Nick (Foster) was very strong right down to the finish. As he's gotten older, he's gotten stronger."
Solomon improved on his fifth-place finish at states last year.
"Carter is on another level," Mikosz said. "He came into the meet breaking 15 (minutes) twice. It's tough when you're competing against someone who's the returning champion. Carter made great strides, showed he's one of the top runners in the state."
Solomon is a junior and has big plans for next season.
"Our goal is to obviously win the state meet (individual) next year," Mikosz said. "He's got a great work ethic and amazing talent. He works hard to get where he wants to go."
Walled Lake Central surprised many by taking second place with 127 points, paced by junior Justin Hill, who came in 25th among all individuals.
"Justin (Hill) had a fantastic day," Central coach Justin Schumacher said. "He ran a really intelligent race. He wanted to put himself in good position after mile one, somewhere between 35 and 45, and then try to run as evenly as possible. He was in the low-30s with 1,000 meters to go."
Senior Jeff Kochever came out of nowhere to run a 38-second personal record for Central on a slow, muddy course. He finished in 41st place.
"We ran well across the board, but Jeff Kochever was unlike he's ever been. He was fantastic today," Schumacher said.
Clarkston finished fourth with 164 points.
"We kind of thought we had a chance to be top-two if we had a great day and conditions were right," Clarkston coach Larry Adams said. "Sometimes you're a mudder and sometimes you're not. Our starting area was a quagmire. Some of the kids adjust and some don't. I would say the course was 20 seconds slow."
Senior Mark Sprague was third for Clarkston and 38th overall.
"He ran his best race of the year and really stepped up for us," Adams said.
Dexter finished third with 154 points.
White Lake Lakeland senior Harrison Grzymkowski (15:32) came in third overall.
Otsego's Alex Comerford won the overall title in 15:23, and his team finished fifth with 202 points.
Chelsea scored 121 points to win the team championship for the second straight season, placing two runners in the top-12. Carson Rabbitt (16:15) was 11th and Foster Thorburn (16:17) 12th.
Fremont (134) was second, Spring Lake (199) was third and Zeeland West (201) was fourth.
Dearborn Divine Child was 11th (331).
Caro (61 points) won the team championship with Yami Albrecht (15:40) finishing first overall for the third consecutive season.
Pewamo-Westphalia (100) came in second, and Shepherd (195) was third.
The top area team was Ann Arbor Greenhills in 11th, paced by Vincent Vermeulen, who finished 54th.
Jeremy Kloss (15:45), of Harbor Springs, finished second for the second straight season.
Saugatuck (62 points) won the team championship with Corey Gorgas (15:33) finishing first overall and Nik Pettinga (16:18) finishing third.
Plymouth Christian's Luke Pohl finished second in 16:13.
Beal City's Alex Taylor (16:18) was fourth.
Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (102) was second in the team competition.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.