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November 14, 2012

Ravens boys cross country team claims first regional title in school history

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Ravens boys cross country team claims first regional title in school history
Royal Oak’s Ben Hill, pictured during the regional final which he won, helped guide the Ravens to a 16th place finish at the Division 1 state finals Nov. 3.

The conclusion came on a perfect fall day in November, but if you ask those involved, the beginning can be traced back to the heat of summer.

For months, this had been the objective — the desire of setting a standard others could look up to.

Guys on the Royal Oak High cross country team aimed to be the most successful the school had ever known.

“Words really can’t describe what we did,” senior Max Benoit said last week. “It’s like, going out how we are …  is almost perfect.”

The Ravens wrapped up the 2012 season Nov. 3 in the Division 1 state finals, just eight days removed from the first regional title any sports program at the school had ever earned.

“It was a pretty big deal to these guys,” coach Dave Barnett said simply. “Being the first to do it in school history makes it pretty special.”

Running in the Grosse Pointe South Division 1 regional, Royal Oak scored 61 points, comfortably ahead of Troy High, which was second with 77. Senior Ben Hill, as he had all season, anchored the attack, winning the individual regional title in a time of 15 minutes, 29 seconds.

Benoit was third in 15:41.0.

“That was like the perfect finish to the season,” said senior Willie Davids, who was sixth in the run at 16:14.0.

But there was still plenty more for this group to do.

On Nov. 3, the Ravens made the trip to Brooklyn to compete in the state finals at the Michigan International Speedway.

“Just an awesome experience,” Barnett said. “It was a perfect day for running. We were on a fast course during regionals and the guys did pretty much the same at the finals.”

“It’s tough to describe what being there is like,” Davids said. “That atmosphere and the race itself is just incredible.”

Highland-Milford won the D-1 race, finishing with a team score of 83.

Royal Oak earned 16th with a score of 375.

Hill led the way for his team, placing eighth in the event in 15:33.6. He was followed by Benoit (10th, 15:35.9), Davids (72nd, 16:26.6), Calum Ahmed (126th, 17:00.3), Zeke Burns (159th, 17:21.2), Yousif Maizy (171st, 17:39.3) and Kevin Trumble (189th, 18:13.5).

“The pieces seemed to fit together really nicely as the year went on,” Barnett said. “That’s what we needed, and that’s what we got, especially in the state finals. … This all started in the summer. These guys worked so hard getting ready for the season, then they ended the year in a great way.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.