STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - Though he didn't need to be there until after 10 a.m. - with the race beginning at 11:30 a.m. - De La Salle Collegiate junior Andrew Renaud had a good feeling about Saturday's Hanson's Invitational.
So he showed up three hours early to get a leg up on the competition.
And it paid off, as Renaud ran a personal-best time of 17:03.5, good for 11th place, helping to lead his team to a fifth-place finish at the 27-team invitational held at Parkway Christian High School.
"I was really looking forward to today. I knew the course was going to be flat and fast," said Renaud, who walked the course after arriving early. "Even though the course was a little wet and muddy, I wanted a personal best. Throughout the whole race I felt really strong, my legs felt good and I ended up with a personal best and I'm pretty happy about that."
He wasn't alone. More than half (19 of 35) of De La Salle's runners ran personal-best times. Also running a PR and joining Renaud on the medal stand was senior co-captain Zachary Jarski, whose time of 17:17.2 helped him finish 17th overall. Like Renaud, Jarski had his sights set high entering the race.
"I wanted a PR and I got it. And I wanted a Top 20 and I accomplished that," Jarski said. "But I also wanted the team to do well and I think we did today. We had a lot of PRs."
Clarkston won the team championship, finishing with 37 points. Stoney Creek was second with 52, followed by Port Huron Northern (122), Utica (139) and the Pilots.
Junior Preston Earl's 17:28.4 gave DLS three runners among the top 22. Sophomore Peyton Ross and junior Thomas Lanzi rounded out the team scoring, finishing 34th and 51st overall. Ross's time of 18:02.7 was a season-best, as was Lanzi's 18:21.5.
Coach Sandy Buchanan was pleased with all the personal-best times, but also with her team's pack time. Her top five runners were separated by a total time of 1:18.
"As a coach, I want to see them (packed) under 1:30," Buchanan said. "I think we did really well. They did what we were asking them to do. They followed their race plans very well. It sets us up for the next three weekends, which are the championships."
There were three races, open to all runners. Coaches could decide which race to place their runners in to get the most out of their team. For Buchanan, things seemed to pan out perfectly.
"Today you could put any amount of kids in any race," she said. "You put them where you think they'll do the best and that's what we did. Talking to my top two guys in the second race, they said running from the front for the first time was really cool. And they both had great times. Sometimes you've got to figure that out, with their personalities."
Senior Nicholas Schmidt (18:33), freshman Brayds Vielle (18:47) and sophomore Mario Salisbury (19:00) all competed in the sub-19 minute race and it paid off. Brayds shaved eight seconds off his season-best.
Others running personal-best times included Fischer Schluessler, Anthony Youngblood, Mark Tanot Devereaux, Austin Darr, Donovan Davis, Joshua Arredondo, Cameron Kessler, George Gardey, Joseph Hartsock, Jack Viviano, Gage Battle, Alexander Hubbs, John Griffith and Calvin Bacall.
The Pilots return to league action on Tuesday, when they'll take on league favorite Catholic Central at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Buchanan is hoping the team can ride the momentum of Saturday into the meet. DLS is 2-1 in league meets this fall.
"What I'm hoping is that they bring this energy (against Catholic Central)," she said. "We're a better Saturday racing team than we are a Tuesday team. I'm hoping this drives the energy for Tuesday. If we can just mix it up with CC, that's what we want. They've got two guys that run in the 16s. We'll let one of them go. But with Drew laying down a 17:03 today and Zach running right behind him, we're in the mix with their top seven."
The Pilots will compete in the Macomb County Championship on Oct. 5, followed by the Catholic High School League Championship on Oct. 19. The regional meet will be held on Oct. 25.
De La Salle runners/times from Saturday's Hanson's Invitational
Andrew Renaud, 17:03; Zachary Jarski, 17:17; Preston Earl, 17:28; Peyton Ross, 18:02; Thomas Lanzi, 18:21; Nicholas Schmidt, 18:33; Brayds Vielle, 18:47; Mario Salisbury, 19:00; Fischer Schluessler, 19:02; Anthony Youngblood, 19:08; Mark Tanot Devereaux, 19:40; Dylan Petruzzello, 19:41; Austin Darr, 19:58; Oscar Thompson, 20:22; Alexander Sekulski, 20:28; Donovan Davis, 20:35; Joshua Arredondo, 21:09; Cameron Kessler, 21:09, Jamersen Lazyboy, 21:32; Matthew Lachajewski, 21:46; Tristan Lago, 21:51; George Gardey, 21:59; Joseph Hartsock, 22:02; Jack Viviano, 22:14; Ethan Arun, 22:18; Joshua Caldwell, 22:41; James Franz, 22:50; Aidan Morphew, 22:51; Thomas Petruzzello, 22:54; Gage Battle, 23:27, John Larocca, 23:55; Alexander Hubbs, 25:07; John Griffith, 27:55; Pierce Dudek, 30:54, Calvin Bacall, 32:49.