BROOKLYN — Riley Hough of Hartland is flattered whenever his name is mentioned in the same breath as Dathan Ritzenhein’s.
Few runners who have come along in the last 21 years inspired any comparisons to the former Rockford great, whose time of 14:10.4 in the 2000 MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 meet is the fastest high school performance in history.
After breaking Ritzenhein’s course record at the Portage Invitational with a time of 14:37.1 on Oct. 9, Hough did something the three-time Olympian never accomplished at MIS by breaking 15 minutes for the second time.
Hough’s time of 14:56.47 Saturday at MIS came one year after he won in 14:49.62, a time that’s second only to Ritzenhein’s record.
Six other runners have gone under 15 minutes at MIS, but none more than once. Ritzenhein came the closest before Hough, winning the 1999 Class A meet in 15:05.4 before his awe-inspiring effort as a senior.
As far as Hough is concerned, he wants to leave his own legacy apart from anyone who came before him.
“Obviously, I have some of his records in some of the other invitationals,” Hough said. “Honestly, I feel I’m just making a name for myself instead of just trying to replace someone else.”
Hough finished the season 13-0, winning his last 24 races in a Hartland uniform.
Farmington’s Peter Baracco, like Hough a four-time all-stater, was less than a second off the pace at the mile mark, which Hough reached in 4:50.9. With a 4:44.3 second mile, Hough obliterated the field by opening up a 27.5-second lead.
Hough’s possible successor, Grand Haven sophomore Seth Norder, moved from 10th place at the two-mile mark to second by the end of the race. Norder crossed the line in 15:25.69.
Winning the team championship for the second time in three years was Brighton, which outscored runner-up Caledonia, 141-175.
The Bulldogs have five different scoring runners from their 2019 team, with only one runner back from the seven who took the course two years ago.
Senior Quinn Cullen ran a personal-best 15:37.54 to lead Brighton, placing sixth individually.
Senior Jack Campbell was 32nd in 16:06.54, senior Lucas Seng was 36th in 16:10.69, sophomore Tyler Langley was 45th in 16:16.84 and junior Dylan White was 97th in 16:42.70.
“It’s just a testament to the amount of work these kids put into it,” Brighton coach Chris Elsey said. “We’ve got a great core group of kids. Seven ran here today, but we’ve got 20, 25 guys who are part of that core group who work hard through the winter, work hard through the summer, in the spring in track. It’s hard to put into words.”
PHOTOS (Top) Hartland’s Riley Hough closes in on a repeat Division 1 championship Saturday. (Middle) Brighton’s Quinn Cullen leads a pack toward the finish while setting the pace for the eventual team title winner. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)