Brandon Buckner qualifies for D1 state finals
– Southgate Star
The Downriver League champion Southgate Anderson boys cross country team capped a sensational season by qualifying a runner for the Division 1 state championship meet at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Nov. 2.
Senior Brendan Buckner ran 16:34.5 to finish 10th at the 114-runner regional race hosted by Lake Erie Metropark, Buckner’s run was good enough to qualify him as an individual for the state finals. The time was just eight seconds shy of Juan Villarreal’s school record.
As a team, the Titans were a solid fifth in the 16-team race. Ann Arbor Pioneer was the meet champion with 40 points, followed b y Saline with 43. Next came Dearborn and Bedford before the Titans scored.
In addition to Buckner, TJ Towell was 19th (16:55), Steven Porter was 30th (17:16), Roger Putnam was 57th (18:20), Connor Eccleton was 68th (18:46), Joe Rodriguez was 69th (18:47) and Connor Augenstein was 72nd (18:50).
The Anderson girls, who were 12th at regionals, were led by freshman Lena Hales, who ran 21:47 and finished 41st.
At the huge Division 1 state final race (245 runners) run on a cold day at cavernous MIS, Buckner was 197th in 17:22.
Buckner entered the season as one of Anderson’s top three runners, but he seemed to grow stronger and stronger as the season progressed. He was seventh at the Downriver Gabriel Richard meet and helped the Titans finish second to Dearborn, a squad that qualified for the Division 1 finals.
He was then third at Oct. 17 Downriver League Meet back at Lake Erie. That effort helped the Titans win the meet and claim the league crown.
But his best day of the year was clearly at regionals where he ran with the best D1 runners in Southeast Michigan.
According to coach Sam Childs, Buckner told him that mentally he found a different level at regionals.
“I think you have to look farther back than just this fall,” said Childs. “Brendan has been training very consistently for over a year now. He has stayed healthy, seemingly took good care of himself in terms of diet and sleep.
“He has been hitting his goal times in workouts 99 percent of the time, doesn’t have bad days and, basically, always comes to practice prepared to work.”
At the league meet, Anderson dusted Roosevekt, which had won one of the two previous league jamborees.
The Titans, who got a second-, third-, eighth-place finish out of Towell, Buckner and Porter, scored 54 points and beat out the runner-up Bears by eight. Allen Park was third with 80, followed by Woodhaven, Carlson, Trenton and Lincoln Park.
Towell ran 17:05 and finished behind only league champ Luc Stackpoole of Trenton. He was followed by Buckner (17:06), Porter (17:34), Eccleton (19th, 21:18) and Putnam (21st, 18:29).