Second Half reports
BROOKLYN – Evan Bishop of East Grand Rapids had already established himself as one of the elite runners in a state known for producing great distance talent.
But while Bishop had credentials and a reputation that stacked up favorably with anyone’s in Michigan, he didn’t have an individual MHSAA championship on his resume.
That changed Saturday when he won the Lower Peninsula Division 2 meet with a time of 15:12.6.
In the process, he defeated one of the runners who deprived him of getting an MHSAA championship sooner, Dearborn Divine Child senior Anthony Hancock. Hancock was second in 15:18.2.
Bishop was second in cross country last year to Otsego senior Alex Comerford. In the spring, he took second to Hancock in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:08.03. In between those performances, Bishop earned All-America honors at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship in San Diego by placing ninth.
“Last year I made it to some of the national meets, and it was a big surprise,” Bishop said. “This year coming back, it’s like I know I’m at that level. I’m just trying to improve upon last year. I’ve checked those boxes. I made it to nationals, I was second three times last year. Honestly, this season, my biggest goal was winning this race. I couldn’t be happier.”
Bishop emerged victorious in a race that featured four runners who have broken 15 minutes. It was unlikely anyone would break that barrier Saturday on a muddy course and in windy conditions.
“If the weather would’ve been a little bit better, the extreme level of the field this year is just amazing,” said Bishop, who won 10 of 11 meets and didn’t lose to a runner from Michigan this fall. “Times could have been really fast.”
When Hancock crossed the line, he immediately turned around to watch the battle for third place. He had a vested interest in the outcome because his twin brother, Michael, was battling Fremont’s Nathan Walker. Michael Hancock edged Walker by two tenths of a second with a time of 15:23.7.
“Going into it, we were hoping for one and two,” Anthony Hancock said. “It didn’t end up happening, but we did end up going two and three. I knew Michael and Walker would be battling it out. I had a feeling Michael would beat him, because his kick is so strong. I turned around, and I saw him pass him.”
Walker did come away with the satisfaction of leading his team to a championship, as Fremont dominated the field with a 68-point performance. Otsego was second with 176. It was Fremont’s eighth MHSAA championship, the last coming in 2015.
Fremont put its five scoring runners in the top 28 in the team race. Conor Somers was sixth in 16:01.5, Adam Ward 14th in 16:23.0, Ben Paige 16th in 16:23.9 and Mikko Vesma 28th in 16:40.3.
PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids’ Evan Bishop pulls a few steps ahead of Dearborn Divine Child’s Anthony Hancock and Fremont’s Nathan Walker. (Middle) Fremont’s Adam Ward (272) leads another pack that includes teammate Joshua Zerfas (273). (Photos by Matt Yacoub/RunMichigan.com.)