TRAVERSE CITY — The Class of 2016 was well represented at the front of the field for the 5/3 Bank Golden Mile High School races on Thursday.
So was Traverse City.
Central High School junior Anthony Berry was the winner of the boys race in 4:14, while St. Francis junior Holly Bullough took the girls race in 5:04.
In both cases the winners had to fight off a tough group of competitors in the final stretch of the race to emerge with their first-place finishes. Berry outlasted Chase Barnett of Mason County Central, who ran a 4:17, in the last 200 meters, while Bullough edged Megan O’Neil from Remus-Chippewa Hills, who came in with a 5:06, right before the finish line.
“I haven’t been doing speed work so I feel good just off of base training for cross (country),” said Berry, who also won the boys high school race last year as a sophomore. “The race was really nice, paced out. First three-quarters were great. I felt good. Heading into the three-quarter, though — the 200 (meters) going into the three-quarter — I felt everyone pushing up. That’s why I had to pick it up a little. Once I hit that quarter mark I tried giving it everything I had. That last 200 I was about to pass out. My form was slipping. I was just throwing my body away just to get as fast as I could. But I pulled off with the win, so I feel pretty good, pretty accomplished about the year.”
The accomplishment of winning was made even more satisfying by the caliber of the field of runners who entered. The race was littered with All-Americans and state champions.
“This field compared to last year was 1,000 times better,” said Berry. “Next year and the years after I feel like it should get even better and bigger. I’m excited for what’s to come.”