He did and he showed what he’s capable of Saturday.
“One of my better races of the season, definitely,” he said.
And that was on a wet, muddy course on a cold, windy day.
Benzie’s top six runners were separated by 34 seconds.
“I thought the guys’ times were fairly decent given what the course gave them,” Kelly said. “I think they are going to run really fast next week on a tighter packed course.”
The girls placed two in the top 6, and five in the top 19. Bryce Cutler and Stephanie Schaub led the way. Cutler came in fourth in 20:13.45 and Schaub sixth in 20:37.98. In addition, Alyssa Bennett finished 11th (21:12.66), Rachael Peabody 16th (21:40.72) and Morgan Burch 19th (21:58.23).
“Today was a race that was all about position,” Kelly said. “We didn’t even worry about watches. We told them to take their watches off and leave them in their bags because it doesn’t matter what you run today. It’s all about place.”
Charlevoix’s Amber Way was the individual winner in 19:06.42. She was second to Manistee’s Annie Fuller last October. Fuller was second Saturday in 19:57.36.
“It was a beautiful course, absolutely gorgeous,” Way said. “It was pretty muddy, but it just strengthens you for the next race.”
Way said she had to stay attentive during the race.
“It (course) kept you awake with all the turns, all the hills,” she said. “You were always doing something.”
Most of the runners toured the course Friday. Kelly elected not to bring his runners to town.
“We were one of the only teams that didn’t come and look at the course,” he said. “We have a Friday routine that works.”
That routine is dinner and a movie. So, on Friday, Kelly and his wife Traci, who also coaches, had the team for dinner. The movie? “Prefontaine.”
They also saw a video of the course, sent along by Traverse City Central girls coach Lisa Taylor.
“Both teams are so much fun,” Kelly said. “I love coaching them. I’m proud for these seniors. The girls have never lost a regional in their entire careers. The guys only lost one on a tiebreaker their freshmen year. They’ve got a streak going.”