boys cross country teams from miles around jammed the area behind the
starting line prior to Saturday's Wayne County Championship at Willow
But it was two teams that sit just a few hundred yards apart that had the biggest say around the finish line.
Plymouth defended its Wayne County title -- the first boys team to do so in the nine-year history of the event -- by edging PCEP rival Canton, 37-41, on a chilly, sun-drenched morning.
Salem placed a distant third with 146 points followed by Livonia Churchill (153) and Dearborn Divine Child (186).
The Wildcats triumphed by placing four runners in the top eight finishers. Joe Porcari was second in 16:21.95 followed by teammates Warren Buzzard (fourth at 16:40.61), Matt Neumann (fifth at 16:41.86) and Derek Gielarowski, who was eighth in 16:44.53.
Carlson's Mike Darnell won the race in a sizzling 15:58.43.
Salem's Mike Charara also turned in a stellar effort, placing third in 16:31.86.
"I was happy with the way we ran, but I still think we can run better," said Plymouth coach Jon Mikosz. "Our front four guys were so spread out, they didn't really have anyone to run with. I think once we're in a meet when there's a pack up front pushing them, their times will improve."
Mikosz was particularly pleased with the performance of his fifth runner, James Maciag, who placed 23rd in 17:27.48.
"He wasn't even running in the seventeens until last week," said Mikosz. "He's dropped almost a minute from his personal best in a week. He's really stepping up when we needed him to."
Canton's effort was its best of the fall, said coach Bill Boyd, who said his team's performance probably would have won the event in most years.
"Our sixth man ran a 17:05 and we still lost the meet," Boyd said. "That tells you how good Plymouth is. They have an amazing top four and we have a very solid top six.
"I couldn't be happier with how my guys ran. It's as good as we've run in a while. It's nice to have to teams at the Park that are as competitive as we are. They make us better and we make them better."
The Chiefs were paced by senior Zack Spreitzer, who placed sixth in 16:43.19. Also scoring for the Chiefs were Keith Zech (seventh in 16:43.72), Paul Rakovitis (ninth in 16:47.16), Miles Felton (10th in 16:53.69) and Mitch Clinton (13th in 17:00.36).
"Zack really stepped up for us today," said Boyd. "And our sixth runner, Bradon Conley, shattered his PR with a 17:05. With Miles, Mitch and Bradon, I feel we have three of the best sophomores in the state."
Junior Jimmy Daniels was Salem's second finisher, placing 29th in 17:38.79. Also scoring for the Rocks were Steven McEvilly (32nd in 17:41.19), Robert Cowing (42nd in 17:59.36), Thomas Patterson (47th in 18:08.35) and Matthew Krupansky, who placed 59th in 18:22.81.
Ed Wright can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 453-1980.