NEW LOTHROP — New Lothrop senior runner Carson Hersch is unbeaten in cross country so far this fall.
Nobody has even gotten close to the tall, lanky speedster.
Hersch — this week’s Argus-Press Athlete of the Week — set a new school cross country record of 15 minutes, 30.8 seconds Oct. 3 at the Shepherd Blue Jay Invitational.
“The weather was really nice that day,” Hersch said. “There was a slight mist. There was really no wind and it was cool, 50-degree weather or so. So it was like perfect running weather.”
Hersch placed third at last season’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Lower Peninsula Cross Country State Finals at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
He clocked a time of 16:15.1. He was a few strikes behind second-place runner Andrew Frohm of Vandercook Lake (16:13.9). Freshman Hunter Jones of Benzie Central won the race in 15:45 and is expected to be the favorite at this year’s state meet.
“My ultimate goal at the state meet is to take first or second there,” Hersch said. “My ultimate goal throughout the season is to get into the low 15’s like a 15:10 or the high 14’s.”
Hersch is a competitor who drives himself hard, according to New Lothrop coaches Greg and Vera Root.
“This is our sixth year coaching Carson,” said the Roots by email. “He was middle school runner of the year both in the seventh and eighth grades. He has earned MVP honors each of his high school years and many other honors. In 2018, he broke New Lothrop’s long-standing school record of 16:45. In 2019, he shaved another minute off that and placing third at the state finals. By the sixth race of this season, he set a new P.R. and at Shepherd he ran a 15:30. Carson is one of our team captains and leads by example with his dedication and determination. He is a great athlete and a great kid. It will be fun to see what the rest of the season has in store for him.”
Hersch said that he’s a little bit ahead of last year when it comes to times.
“I’ve been running for quite a while now,” Hersch said. “I just keep going. Usually after cross country ends, I take a two-week break period or so. But last winter I ran indoor track and over the summer I really put in a lot of miles.”
Another of Hersch’s season highlights so far this fall was running first at the Spartan Invitational at Webberville, clocking a course record 15:39.6. He has won the Goodrich Invitational (16:30.8), the Frankenmuth Eagle Invitational (17:00.11) and the Birch Run Fall Invitational (16:29).
Hersch has also ran first in the first two Mid-Michigan Activities Conference jamborees — darting first at Byron on Sept. 15 (16:02.0) and first at Chesaning on Sept. 29 (16:24.4).
New Lothrop’s boys have placed first at both MMAC jamborees and are gunning for a league title.
“We’re ranked third in our regional so we’re hoping to go to the states this year (as a team),” Hersch said. “The top three teams at regionals go to states. With our strong team it’s definitely doable but we have to put the work in, you know? It would really be cool to do that because it’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that.”
Hersch owns three school records in track and field.
“At Shepherd, I broke the mile record and I had a 4:30.02 or something liek that,” Hersch said. “I also have the two-mile record of 10:01.”
Hersch teamed up with Micha Poletti, Gage Ruddy and Thomas Heslip to set a school record in the 3,200-meter relay his sophomore year.
Hersch, like all of his teammates, was unable to compete in track and field as a junior because of COVID-19.
The senior has not decided what college he will attend next season.
“I’d like to become a physician’s assistant and major in pre-med,” Hersch said.
He maintains a grade point average of 4.0.