All-American status: Former Royal Oak High runner achieves lofty feat

By: Mark Vest | Royal Oak Review | Published June 27, 2018

 Royal Oak High graduate Max Benoit represents Michigan State University on the track earlier this year. Benoit earned second team All-American honors on the track this past season.

Royal Oak High graduate Max Benoit represents Michigan State University on the track earlier this year. Benoit earned second team All-American honors on the track this past season.

Photo provided by MSU Athletic Communications

What happened on June 8 is something 2013 Royal Oak High graduate Max Benoit isn’t likely to forget anytime soon.

As a senior on Michigan State University’s track and field team, that Friday was his last opportunity to represent the Spartans on a track.

The occasion was the NCAA Track & Field Championships, which took place June 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon.

After having never previously made it to the NCAA finals, Benoit earned a spot in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final.

Although his goal was to make a final, Benoit made something of his opportunity when he got there, as his 11th-place finish earned him second team All-American honors, making him the first MSU All-American in the men’s steeplechase since Henry Kennedy in 1956.

“When I came into college, it wasn’t on my radar to be an All-American,” Benoit said. “I’m (going to) look back on my career and just remember the memories I had with my teammates, all the fun races I got to run in, the workouts, and all that stuff. That means more to me than any sort (of) status.”

Royal Oak track and cross country coach Dave Barnett said he is “super impressed” with what Benoit has done.

“(It’s) a testament to his work ethic and determination to keep getting better,” Barnett said. 

Ryan Piippo was a co-head coach for Royal Oak during Benoit’s time with the program, and his progression has not gone unnoticed by him.

“What he did at Michigan State is, I think, a testament to his approach,” Piippo said. “But he just shows that if you keep your nose to the grindstone, you do things with a good attitude, you work your tail off and you be a good teammate and a good learner, then those seasons become years of hard work that really jump you up level by level.”

Benoit also had some kind words for Barnett and Piippo.

“They’re great mentors for me,” Benoit said. “I don’t think I’d be where I am without their help.”

Even though Benoit’s days on the track for Michigan State are over, he still has the 2020 U.S. Olympic track and field trials on the mind. 

 “Some of my teammates in the past, they’ve made the trials,” Benoit said. “They tell me that it’s like an atmosphere like no other, in terms of not only running, but in athletics in general. Just being part of that is something really special, and if you have the chance to try and get there, don’t waste it.”