TRAVERSE CITY — Not quite sure exactly where the finish line was, Anthony Berry slowed up a bit.
Kingsley’s Jake Keena almost caught him.
Berry held on to win the high school boys race at the Fifth Third Bank Golden Mile in 4:22.9, while Keena’s time was 4:23.3.
“I thought I had at least a few more paces,” said Berry, who just finished his freshman year at Traverse City Central. “I actually didn’t know where the finish was, so I slowed down a little (before it), but I’m happy I pulled it out at the end. I was a little farther back coming down the stretch than I was hoping, but I usually have a good kick at the end and that helped.”
“I think there’s a chance I (caught him),” Keena said of the finish.
Even though many onlookers couldn’t tell who had won, the Kingsley sophomore ended up a very close second.
“I tried to stay back the whole race and then at the end, push it a little more,” Keena said. “It was pretty neck-and-neck all the way.”
West Bloomfield’s Erin Finn — a University of Michigan recruit — won the girls race in 4:51 by 15 seconds.
“I was hoping me or Kyle (Dotterrer) would win it, someone from Traverse,” Berry said. “It just all played out. I really was thinking a lot about this race the last several days and getting my mind set on it, which helped.”
Dotterrer ended up sixth in 4:26.3.
Behind the close finish of Berry and Keena, Royal Oak’s Ben Hill was third in 4:23.6, Ludington’s Luke Johnson fourth at 4:24.0 and Saginaw’s Nate Cruz fifth in 4:24.5. The 10 boys competitors were only 13 seconds apart from first to 10th, and four second between first and fourth.
“The heat is something else to take into consideration for me, because I don’t like running in heat that much,” said Berry, 15.
Finn — who only committed to the race a few days earlier — jumped into the lead and held onto it through the finish line.
“I got out to a lead pretty early,” Finn said. “I kind of forgot what it felt like to race. So I thought I was going a lot slower than that — and definitely felt it the last quarter. I thought the finish line was a little earlier. Whoops. But it was fun.”
The high school entrants don’t win any prize money, like the elite men’s and women’s runners can.
“A thumbs up, I think,” Finn said of her prize. “I got a pretty (pink) jersey. That’s all I can accept, and all I want.”
Traverse City Central’s Katie Moses was second in 5:06, followed by Rochester Hills’ Jamie Morrissey in third at 5:13.
It was Morrissey who convinced Finn to run the race.
“I got an email a couple months ago asking me to do it, and I was kind of wary about it,” Finn said. “I knew I was going to be done racing for awhile and had my break, just doing base training. So I planned on not doing it.”
That’s when Morrissey — a future U-M teammate — convinced Finn to run along with her.
“She was like, ‘I’m doing this race. You should do it with me,’” Finn said. “So just a couple days ago, I was like, ‘OK, fine.’ It was just fun to come out here and do it.”
It didn’t hurt that her family has a cottage in West Branch and was already in the vicinity.
Traverse City’s Ashley Ko was fourth (5:22) and Benzie Central’s Bryce Cutler fifth (5:28).