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Wildcat Harriers Lasso Mustangs
9/12/16 Photo left: Trey Mullins

NORTHVILLE, MI - The Novi Men’s Cross Country team expected quite a battle Tuesday as they hosted the Northville Mustangs in their season opener in the KLAA Central. Last year Northville was the runner-up team at the MHSAA State Finals and Novi was third. Northville defeated Novi in their dual meet last year, while Novi beat Northville in the KLAA league meet and the Regional Final.

The meet on Tuesday proved to be a repeat of the close races the two teams had last season. Ben Cracraft and Nick Couyoumjian from Northville put the early hurt on Novi by taking the first two places at Cass Benton Park, which coincidentally is the home course for both schools.

“It is very difficult to win when the other team takes the first two places” noted Coach Robert Smith. “Mathematically if a team goes 1, 2, 3 it is an automatic win.”

The Wildcats put on a huge comeback by taking places 3-6. “We desperately needed our top pack to come in before their third guy” said Coach Smith. Aric Landy (3rd, 16:43), John Landy (4th, 16:46), Scott Macpherson (5th, 16:59) and Gabe Mudel (6th, 17:04) did just that. “Running in a pack gives us the confidence and synergy to overcome adversity.”

Northville, however, was not done. They pressed on and took places 7 and 8.

So, after 8 runners crossed the finish line (4 from each school), the score was tied 18-18.

The first five runners from each team establish the total team score. It was up to the fifth man.

Jacob Blackmore from Northville held the ninth overall place for almost the entire race. Novi had 4 guys (Trey Mullins, Nate Wood, Alex Schafer, and Chris Silva) on the hunt, but it looked like Blackmore would prevail. However, with about 400 meters to go Trey Mullins found another gear and passed Blackmore on the final downhill of the course. Mullins (17:21) continued his charge up the final hill to the finish line and ended up beating Blackmore (17:31) for the critical ninth place finish.

“Trey and I talked yesterday about the importance of him beating their fifth man” commented Smith. “He ran a perfect race to execute that plan”. The final score was Novi 27, Northville 28.

Career PR’s were recorded by Nathan James (18:16), Hayato Lowe (21:12) and Jonathan Wang (21:25).