Reappearing in the MHSAA finals was an accomplishment in itself for the Novi boys cross country team.
The Wildcats, paced by junior Joost Plaetinck’s 13th-place All-State (top 30) finish, wound up 15th in the Division 1 team standings with 356 points at chilly and windy Michigan International Speedway Saturday in Brooklyn.
Rockford, scoring 140 points, won a close battle for first place over runner-up White Lake Lakeland (146), Waterford Mott (148) and Northville (165).
“Just making it to the finals is a huge accomplishment,” Novi coach Robert Smith said. “There are dozens of quality teams that didn’t make it out of regionals. For us to finish in the top 15 is really icing on the cake.”
Grand Blanc’s Grant Fisher, a senior, successfully defended his individual title in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 14 minutes, 52.5 seconds.
Plaetinck, who finished 48th a year ago, was clocked in 15:39.5, which ranks him seventh on the Wildcats’ all-time list.
“Without a doubt Joost is one of the state’s best runners,” Novi coach Bob Smith said. “His performance today validated that reputation. Somehow, in all that wind, Joost managed to chop 10 seconds off of his personal best.”
Rounding out the Novi scoring contingent was sophomore Scott MacPherson (112th, 16:36.1); senior Sahisnu Malapati (114th, 16:37.4); senior Nathan Hall (149th, 16:54.3); and sophomore John Landy (155th, 16:56.4).
“These two guys worked really well together” Smith said of MacPherson and Malapati. “Scott tied his personal best, while Sahisnu was only two seconds off of his season P.R.
“Nate and John employed the same racing strategy as MacPherson and Malapati. I was very impressed with these two guys today. Hall is coming off an injury and Landy has been running varsity for only part of the season. Both ran a gutsy race.”
Senior Cameron Misko (174th, 17:04.4) and first-year junior Adam Ditri (203rd, 17:19.8) rounded out the top seven for Novi, which has enjoyed a rich tradition of performing well at state finals.
The Wildcats had their first team qualify under Smith in 1990 with a ninth-place finish followed by three-year run where they captured back-to-back Class A titles in 1998 and 1999, along with a runner-up finish in 2000 (Division 1).
Novi continued its remarkable run with top 10 finishes through 2006. The team qualified again in 2008 (13th) and 2009 (10th).
“It’s great to be back,” Smith said. “We’ve continued our state meet appearances over the last few years with individuals, but getting the team there is really what it’s all about.”
Junior Scott Smith was Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s top individual finisher as the Shamrocks, making their first Division 1 finals appearance since 2010, placed 17 overall in the 27-team field at MIS with 391 points.
Smith finished 92nd overall in 16:25.8 followed by junior Avery Felty, 95th (16:27.0); junior Bailey Hobson, 113th (16:36.4); sophomore Ben Racine, 123rd (16:45.4); and sophomore Mark Borek, 185th (17:09.2).
CC’s non-scorers included junior Ben Ludtke (214th, 17:24.8) and sophomore Brendan Canavan (240th, 18:02.1).