It was quite a run for Lex Williams and the Dexter boys’ cross country team in 2015. Williams, in his first year with the Dreadnaughts, led the boys to a regional title and a 15th place showing at the Division 1 state finals last week at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Williams coached at Illinois State University as a graduate assistant the past two years before taking the Dexter job. Before that he had some experience coaching a middle school team and helping with a high school team in New Hampshire.
“It was a huge learning experience for everyone, as not a single one of our top seven runners had ever competed in the state meet before Saturday,” Williams said. “Five of those runners will return next year with state meet experience.”
The Dreadnaughts crossed the finish line with 359 points, 10 behind Bay City Western who finished a step ahead of the Dreadnaughts.
“Our state meet race was a very good performance overall, but not a true indication of how good our team was this year,” Williams said. “Our best race of the season happened at the Regional. If we ran the same times as the Regional race, we would’ve finished seventh overall. I thought on our best day, we might’ve been able to sneak into the top five. But that’s why you run the race.”
The Dreadnaughts were led by Marc Lopez. The junior finished 34th overall with a time of 16:13.4. Junior Jack Shelley (41st, 16:17.4) and senior Lucas Bell (78th, 16:36.4) also cracked the top 100 for Dexter.
“Marc and Jack ran good races and led us up front with a nice 1-2 punch,” Williams said. “Our third man (senior captain Lucas Bell) fell at the mile mark and smashed both knees and had gravel embedded in his hands, but got up and ran his second fastest 5-K ever. I was incredibly proud of his poise and leadership finishing his career with heart and determination.”
Williams said another highlight was sophomore Daniel Higgins running a 30 second PR and finishing as Dexter’s fourth runner.
“Daniel split time between cross country and soccer and came on strong at the end of the year,” Williams said. “Our 5-6-7 runners had good races, but were slightly behind their fastest times of the season.”
Dexter finished just 25 points away from 11th place, which was a matter of 10 seconds from any one of their top-five scoring runners.