BENZONIA — Add another "Runner of the Year" feather to Hunter Jones' cap.
The Benzie Central star athlete has already taken home the Record-Eagle honor four times in both cross country and track and field. Now, make that five as Jones is the 2022 Record-Eagle Track and Field Boys Runner of the Year.
Jones, a junior, earned the distinction in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for cross country and then in 2021 for track and field. The likelihood that Jones would have been named Runner of the Year for the 2020 track and field season seems fairly high given his track record — no pun intended — but that spring sports season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This shows that all the work I do pays off," Jones said. "I like for people to see that. When I go out and run every day, people don't see that. They don't see the work I'm putting in, so the recognition is always great. Does it get old? I definitely don't think so. I appreciate the support."
Jones was elite and nearly untouchable in his races. After starting the season with two runner-up efforts in the 800-meters, Jones won the next six and set a personal record at the Division 3 state finals to win an individual championship. He won the 1600 eight out of the nine times he competed, including at the regional and state championships. He grabbed five golds in the 3200 but fell just short of three state titles in a runner-up effort. Jones did break the nine-minute mark in the 3200, running an 8:59.09 at the New Balance Invite.
With all of the state championships and accolades already under his belt, what else is there for the phenom to accomplish? Well, he has his eyes set on the MHSAA record books.
"I'm just trying to get faster times, lower my records and hopefully break some of those top state records," Jones said, mentioning Grand Blanc's Grant Fisher, who ran the 1600 in 4:00.28 in 2015, and Rockford's Dathan Ritzenhein, who ran the 3200 in 8:43.32 in 2001. "That's the ultimate goal, to break those all-time records."
Jones' fastest time in the 1600 is 4:08.23, which he set at the 2022 Record-Eagle John Lober Honor Roll Meet. His best time in the 3200 is that 8:59.09 he ran at the New Balance Invite.
Jones is already committed to Wake Forest University, where he'll run for the Demon Deacons this coming fall.
"I just had a good connection with the coach," Jones said. "He was straight up with me about what I'd be doing in college. I really trusted him and his process. They're rising as a program, and I'm excited to be on that rise. He told me we're going to be contending for that national championship in a couple of years."
A national championship would be just one more accomplishment to add to the laundry list of achievements that Jones has been piling up since he began running in second grade.
Jones credits his father for pushing him to be the best in whatever he does. Jones is, without a doubt, the best.
"Whether it be sports or my schoolwork, he instilled that want to be great," Jones said of his father. "The love for the sport came after, probably more recently in that last two or three years when I really got into the sport."
But did Jones expect to be this great? This elite?
"I really didn't," he said. "My dad was telling me in like sixth grade that I was going to be really good and could go to any school I wanted and that I'd run these fast times and be ranked among the best in state history. I was unconvinced. I thought there was no way I'd ever be close to that, but he was right."
Jones is a firm believer that everyone has their own path. His path is running, and it has taken him great places and likely will continue to take him to even greater heights.
"God gave me this gift to be a good runner," he said. "I'm just trying to take that gift and do as much as I can with it. I'm no different than anyone else. I work for what I have."
2022 RECORD-EAGLE BOYS TRACK & FIELD DREAM TEAM
Hunter Jones — Benzie Central, Jr. (Runner of the Year)
The back-to-back winner of this honor, Jones was elite and nearly untouchable in his races. After starting the season with two runner-up efforts in the 800-meters, Jones won the next six and set a personal record at the Division 3 state finals to win an individual championship. The junior Huskie also won the 1600 eight out of the nine times he competed, including at the regional and state championships. He grabbed five golds in the 3200 but fell just short of three state titles in a runner-up effort. Jones did break the nine-minute mark in the 3200, running an 8:59.09 at the New Balance Invite.
Noah Morrow — Manton, Sr.
One of the few people to beat Benzie Central's Hunter Jones, Morrow bested the record-breaking Huskie by a shade over eight seconds to win the Division 3 state championship in the 3200-meters. The senior Ranger swept the 800-meters his senior season, going nine for nine in those races. Morrow also won all three 400-meter races he entered, six of eight in the 1600, nine of 11 in the 3200, and helped the Manton 4x400 relay team win four of six with a 12th-place finish at the state finals.
Luke Venhuizen — Traverse City Central, Sr.
Venhuizen was simply steady and dominant as a senior for the Trojans. His sixth-place finish in the 3200-meters at the New Balance Invite was his lowest of the season, but Venhuizen set a personal record at that event with a run of 9:00.16. At the D1 state finals, he finished third in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200. Over the course of the season, he racked up 17 top-three finishes, including 12 golds.
Remy Schulz — Traverse City West, Sr.
The senior Titan was an incredibly versatile asset for West in his final year, compiling 47 top-three finishes across six events (11 in the 100-meters, five firsts; 10 in the 200-meters, seven firsts; 13 in the 4x100, 10 firsts; 11 in the 4x200, 10 firsts; one in the 4x400, first; one in the SMR, first).
Jonah Hochstetler — Traverse City West, Jr.
A stellar junior campaign from Hochstetler resulted in three top-five state finals finishes, taking third in the 1600-meters and fourth in the 800 at the MITCA team championships and then fifth at the MHSAA individual championships. He earned 33 top-three finishes over nine events, including 15 first-places.
Colton Eckler — Mesick, Jr.
Eckler was simply fantastic for the Bulldogs in his junior campaign. Few athletes can list three top-10 finishes at the state championships on their resume for a single season, but Eckler can — taking eighth in the 100-meters, seventh in the 200 and seventh once again as part of Mesick's 4x100 relay team. Eckler also placed 19th at state in the 400. He took home regional crowns in the 100, the 400 and the 4x100 while finishing second in the 200.
Wally Tupper — Traverse City West, So.
The sophomore hurdler was a top-of-the-line performer and picked a fine time to run his personal-best time in the 110-meters with a 15.45 to grab second at the D1 regional championships. Tupper had 11 top-three finishes in the 110-meters and six in the 300-meters, including six first-places.
John O'Connor — Traverse City West, Sr.
O'Connor was a standout in the long jump, winning four meets including the Big North Conference championships, and taking second at the Honor Roll Meet with a personal-record leap of 21-7.25. He finished 12th in the D1 state finals and was also part of the Titans' 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams that won 14 races combined.
Kadyn Warner — Traverse City Central, Sr.
The beast of a hurler fired out seven straight first-place finishes in the shot put, including starting the season with a PR throw of 56-2.5. Warner took second at the D1 regional and then back-to-back firsts at the Big North championships and the Honor Roll before placing fourth at state.
Dante Williams — Traverse City Central, Sr.
The senior Trojan never took worse than third in the high jump in any meet, nabbing five wins along the way to a third-place finish at the D1 regional. Williams was also great in the long jump with seven top-three finishes and a 19th-place effort at the state finals. He was also a valuable part of the Trojans' relay teams.
Will Gaston — Traverse City West, Sr.
Gaston came on strong in the final weeks of his final high school season, winning the long jump at Division 1 regional at Midland with a PR leap of 22-6.75 and following that up with back-to-back silvers at the Big North championships and the MITCA team state finals before finishing 11th at the MHSAA state championships.
Ayden Totten — Traverse City West, Jr.
Totten was an integral part of the Titans' successful 2022 season, picking up eight top-3 finishes in the 100-meters, nine in the 200 and 24 more as part of the West's 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Avery Timm — Petoskey, Sr.
Timm rode a wave of success through the Division 2 regional meet into a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles with a PR time of 15.75 in the finals. He won the Big North championships four days later and placed 14th at the state finals.
Russell Hush — Gaylord, So.
Just a day after a tornado tore through his hometown, Hush clocked a personal-record time of 41.64 to win the 300-meter hurdles in the Division 2 regional — his fifth first place in that event on the season. Hush went on to finish 20th at the state championships.
Riley Brock — Kingsley, Sr.
Brock put together a phenomenal year as a thrower for the Stags, winning the Division 2 regional and the Northwest Conference championships in the shot put and the discus. The senior had 10 wins in both events, taking third in the state finals in the shot put and 14th in the discus.
Gage Hessem — Kingsley, Sr.
The high jumper for the Stags leaped out of the gates with five consecutive victories to open the season. He collected nine first-place finishes, including at the Division 2 regional, the Northwest Conference championships and the Honor Roll. He placed sixth at the state finals.
Phillip Banner — Boyne City, Sr.
The Ramblers' sprinter excelled in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, winning both events at the Lake Michigan Conference championships and taking fourth place in both at the Northern Michigan Meet of Champions. He placed 12th in the Division 3 state finals in the 200 and set a PR time of 23.11 to take second at the regional.
Tyler Guggemos — Kalkaska, Sr.
The top-notch distance runner proved that he also has what it takes in short races, winning a regional championship in the 400-meters with a PR time of 51.6 en route to a 16th-place finish at state. Guggemos also won three titles in the 3200 and took seventh at the Division 3 state finals with a PR run of 9:43.72.
Samuel Peterson — Charlevoix, Sr
Peterson capped off his Rayder career with two top-5 finishes at the Division 3 state finals, taking second in the 1600-meters with a PR time of 4:15.16 and fifth in the 800 at 1:58.71. Peterson won regional crowns in both events and finished the season with 13 individual titles, including three in the 3200.
Thomas Richards, Connor Donahue, Josh Kerr, Jacob Heeringa, Tucker Krumm — Traverse City St. Francis
The Gladiators' 4x800-meter relay team was nothing short of dominant, winning nine of the 10 races in which a combination of four of the five aforementioned athletes competed. Richards, Donahue, Kerr and Heeringa won a regional title and two state championships in the event, doing so at the Division 3 MITCA team championships and the MHSAA state finals.
Tyrone Brouillet — Benzie Central, So.
Brouillet was magnificent as a hurdler for the Huskies. The sophomore ended his season with two top-10 state finals finishes, placing eighth in the 110-meters in Division 3 and sixth in the 300. He tallied 10 top-3 finishes in the 110, including wins in the regional and the Northwest Conference championships, and nine top-threes in the 300, including wins at the regional and the Honor Roll.
Brenden Endres — Traverse City St. Francis, Sr.
Endres was incredible for the Gladiators on the pole vault. The senior never finished worse than runner-up in the event across 11 meets, setting a personal record at Mancelona with a vault of 14-6. He took wins at the Ken Bell Invite and the Division 3 regional while placing second at the state championships with his second-highest vault at 14-3.
Joey Andrews — Traverse City St. Francis, Jr.
Andrews was awesome in the long jump for the Gladiators. Plain and simple. He took home the bronze at the Division 3 state championships with a leap of 21-5.75 and won 11 of the 14 meets in which he competed, including at the Ken Bell Invite, the regional, the MITCA state championships, the Lake Michigan Conference championships and the Honor Roll.
Sparty Skillern — Grayling, Sr.
Skillern proved himself to be a skilled and powerful thrower for the Vikings, taking 13th in the shot put and ninth in the discus at the Division 3 state championships. He won regional titles in both events and took home gold in the discus 10 times and the shot put seven times.
Gavin Bisballe — Lake City, Sr.
Bisballe turned in one of the most successful seasons for a jumper in recent memory, winning the Division 3 state championship in the high jump with a leap of 6-5 and taking eighth in the long jump at 20-5.25. The senior Trojan finished top three in the high jump each time he competed, winning regional and Highland Conference titles.
Caleb Doe — Lake City, Sr.
The hurdler and vaulter for the Trojans had a wonderful 2022 campaign as a senior. Doe had six top-three finishes in the 110-meter hurdles, including at the Highland Conference championships where he also won the 300-meter hurdles. In the pole vault, Doe snagged nine first-places, including at the Highland championships, and was second in the D3 regional and 16th at the state finals.
Mitchel Harrington — Grayling, So.
The long jumper for the Vikings began his sophomore season with five straight wins followed by a second-place effort at the Division 3 regional and then another title at the Northern Michigan meet of Champions. He finished seventh in the state finals.
Nick Simon, Jackson Kulawiak, Jeremiah Pasbjerg, Kyle Deshasier — Buckley
The Bears' state championship-winning 4x400-meter relay team tore through the competition to win six meets, including the Division 4 regional and the Northwest Conference championships. Simon was great outside of the relay as well, excelling in the 200-meters for a sixth-place finish at state. Kulawiak was stellar in the 800, compiling nine top-three finishes, including a regional win, and placing fifth at state.
Jonas Lanser — McBain Northern Michigan Christian, Sr.
A pair of regional championships and two top-15 finishes at the Division 4 state finals is far from a bad way to cap off a career for Lanser. The senior Comet won both the 800-meters and the 1600 at the Marion regional and then went on to place 15th at state in the 800 and 13th in the 1600.
Malaki Gascho — Johannesburg-Lewiston, So.
The sophomore Cardinal had a valiant effort in the 2022 season, winning a regional championship in the 3200-meters and then taking sixth and setting a personal record in the event at the Division 4 state finals with a time of 10:00.7. He also helped his 4x800 relay team to five first-place finishes and a fifth-place effort at state.
Josiah Hall — Johannesburg-Lewiston, Sr.
Hall was nothing short of dominant in his final year as a Cardinal. After opening the season with a runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles, Hall rattled off seven straight wins, including a Division 4 regional title, a Ski Valley championship and a gold at the Northern Michigan Meet of Champions. He placed third at the state finals. Hall was great in the 300 hurdles as well, winning seven times and placing fifth at state.
Kyle Kaczanowski — Buckley, Sr.
The jumper and relay runner for the Bears was excellent in his senior season. He finished in the top five in the high jump in each of his 12 meets — the top two in 10 of those — and won six times. He placed fifth at the Division 4 state finals. Kaczanowski won a regional title in the long jump, one of his seven meet victories, and took 14th at state. He was also a big part of the Bears' 4x200 relay team that took sixth at state.
Caleb Glase — Glen Lake, Sr.
The senior hurler for the Lakers put on a great performance in the discus throughout the season, racking up a Division 4 regional championship to go along with two other wins and several other top-three finishes. Glase set a personal record at the regional with a toss of 138-5 and took ninth at the state finals.
Isaac Bowden — Frankfort, Jr.
Bowden was a top-of-the-line performer in the pole vault as a junior for the Panthers. He never finished worse than third place, and his lone third-place finish came at the Division 4 state championships. He won the D4 regional championship and then set a personal record the next week at the Highland Conference championships with a vault of 13-0.
Michael Schermerhorn — Traverse City West, Sr.
Ben Habers — Traverse City West, So.
Josh Hirschenberger — Traverse City West, Sr.
Willem DeGood — Traverse City West, So.
Joe Muha — Traverse City Central, Jr.
Jett Reimers — Traverse City Central, Jr.
Damon Livingston — Traverse City Central, Sr.
Carson Douglass — Traverse City West, Sr.
Shane Izzard — Petoskey, So.
Connor Johnson — Kingsley, Jr.
Burke Flowers — Traverse City St. Francis, Jr.
Max Miles — Manistee, So.
Judge Morgan — Traverse City St. Francis, Jr.
Ethan Kucharek — Grayling, So.
Brad Elkins — Kalkaska, Jr.
Logan Shooks — East Jordan, Fr.
Cam Sellers — Traverse City St. Francis, Fr.
Richard Cunningham — Charlevoix, Sr.
Lee Nemecek — East Jordan, Sr.
Preston Malpass — East Jordan, So.
Luke Kooy — Manistee, Sr.
Keeton Capling — Manistee Catholic Central, Sr.
Henry Plumstead — Glen Lake, Sr.
Dashel Courson — Suttons Bay, So.
Blake Fox — Johannesburg-Lewiston, So.
Skylar Werden — Frankfort, Jr.
Ben DuCheny — Buckley, Sr.
Tucker Brown — Frankfort, Jr.
Deven Pawlowski — Mesick, Sr.
Tyler Apple — Buckley, So.
Jared Coxe — Frankfort, Sr.
Emmerson Farmer — Frankfort, So.
Isaac Stone, Traverse City West; Micah Bauer, Traverse City Central; Danny Rosa, Traverse City West; Kyler Brunan, Traverse City West; Ryan Stawski, Traverse City Central; Cam Adams, Petoskey; Rippin Vining, Petoskey; Gavin Wargel, Petoskey; CJ Hibbler, Petoskey; Jonathan Aungst, Gaylord; Trevor Lewis, Kingsley; Christian Harper, Gaylord; Dominick Mikel, Gaylord; Matteo Letizio, Cadillac; Reese Marvin, Petoskey; Dylan Odenbach, Petoskey; Samuel Smith, Petoskey; Cooper Rokop, Petoskey; Derek Rood, Cadillac; Gage Looker, Gaylord; Ryan Sanders, Cadillac; Connor Anderson, Cadillac; Dominic Schwein, Charlevoix; Drew Moore, Grayling; Caleb Ziebarth, East Jordan; Braylan Grybauskas, East Jordan; Carter Sherman, East Jordan; Dayne Blair, Lake City; Tyler Brown, Lake City; Christian Park, Lake City; Darin Kunkel, Lake City; Josh Aldrich, Grayling, Marcus Chard, Grayling; Dakota Martin, Grayling; David Millikin, Grayling; Lucas McKernan, Manton; Nolan Moffit, Manton; Kyle Hudson, Manton; Camden Moore, Kalkaska; Hayden Moore, Kalkaska; Gavin Guggemos, Kalkaska; Kale Black, Grayling, Tristan Demlow, Grayling; Alexander Cole, Grayling; Houston Hiller, Mesick; Wyatt Putney, Mesick; Jake Romzek, Buckley; Alfonzo Jimenez, Buckley; Cordel Campbell, Joburg; Joe Perry, Joburg; Logan May, Joburg; Richard Korff, Joburg; Nathan Eisenga, McBain NMC; Tucker Tossey, McBain NMC; Jacob Wartenberg, Joburg; Ronin Vaden, Joburg; Colebrook Sutherland, Glen Lake; Dylan Cundiff, Glen Lake; Tyler Bixby, Glen Lake; Joey Schwindt, Glen Lake; Lorenzo Tognetti, Buckley; Casey Putz, Bellaire; Adam Townsend, Frankfort;
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