TRAVERSE CITY – The Cherry Festival 5K road race turned into a Big North Conference reunion Saturday.
Traverse City Central alum Jacob Secor held off two former high school rivals to win the men’s race in 15:09.63. Petoskey’s Derek Henning placed second in 15:13.07 and Traverse City West’s Geoff Burns third in 15:22.25.
“It felt like we were back in high school again,” Secor said. “We all graduated in 2008. It was definitely cool.”
Little separated the trio on a warm, sunny morning.
“We were running together right from the beginning,” Secor said. “We stuck together pretty much the whole race.
“At the mile, we were in a group with a few more people. By mile two, though, it was just the three of us. We were working well together, sitting in a pretty tight pack. I would surge and they would catch up. Geoff would surge and we would catch up. Derek would surge and we would catch up. It didn’t really break up until the last 800. Then we kind of went for it to see what we had left.”
Turns out, Secor had a little more in the tank.
“I was trying to close on him, but really I was already running full throttle,” Henning said. “He held me off.”
The sprint to the finish played out before a sizable group of onlookers lining Front Street.
“I felt good,” Secor said. “I run this road almost every day. I knew it was a long stretch (down Front), so I was waiting, and waiting, then I went with whatever I had the last 800.”
So did Henning.
“The last straightway is a grind, really tough,” he said. “You see the finish, but you know from previous experience that it’s (finish line) far away. You just have to ignore it and look at the guy ahead of you and keep pumping.”