By Barbara Read
Special to WLAA
Dexter seniors Lucas Betzoldt, Ransom Duncan, and Nick McKenzie have committed to run cross country at Michigan Tech. Graduates of Michigan Tech have a 92 percent job-placement rate and their earnings are in the top 10 for early career pay in the nation. To quote Michigan Tech, it’s a “crazy smart choice” to go there.
For runners, it’s even smarter. Michigan Tech offers a premier cross country program and dedicates resources to the success of its athletes both in training and in the classroom. They are offering Tech Ultra Trail Running Races for the first time this September and regularly have scholar athletes recognized at the national level.
MTU Huskies Cross Country Coach Jake Isaacson says of the trio from Dexter, “They have shown to be great young men in the classroom and on the race course, and their experience will help us continue to grow toward a top level program in the region and in the country.”
About college, Lucas says, “I am planning on studying civil engineering at MTU. I am actually a second generation Techster like Nick–both of our dads went there. I’ll be the third in my family to attend. I first went there when my family visited the school while looking at colleges for my sister. I went back a year later when she was a freshman and watched the cardboard canoe races that the students build and paddled, or sunk. I knew at that point this was where I wanted to go.”
Ransom will be studying computer science and Nick is heading to MTU for Electrical Engineering and Air Force ROTC.
Coach Drew Collette said of the boys’ work ethic, “They are varsity level contributors to the team. All three are very strong academically and put in the work to run great races. They represent Dexter, and not just in running. They push the program and show that hard work pays off. These three have shown the younger kids how to aim for a goal. If you put in the work, success will come.”
When asked for a favorite team memory or achievement, Nick had a difficult time choosing only one favorite memory, but said that wrapping up his senior year by helping his team place third in the state meet had to be near the top. Ransom’s favorite memory is running at the massive Nike Cross Regionals Midwest (NXR) as the final race of his high school cross country career and also when he broke 17 minutes in a 5k race. Lucas recalls a funnier moment as one of his favorites. He enjoyed cheering on a teammate at Hudson Mills who was in such a hurry, he had put both legs through one pant leg of his shorts. And then ran a PR!
On a more personal note, Nick says he can’t thank his parents Dave and Laura McKenzie for being there the entire way and says they never missed an opportunity to watch him in rain or shine. Of his coaches, he says, “I have had several coaches here in Dexter and they have all been incredibly important to my own personal growth as an athlete as well as development as a person. They have pushed me to set high goals for myself which have allowed me to advance to the collegiate running level.”
Ransom thanks his parents Ransom and Andrea Duncan for their unconditional support of everything to do with his running career, and Lucas thanks his parents Scott and Frances Betzoldt for letting him bring his “skinny, stinky friends to infiltrate the house on a regular basis” and adds that he has never beaten his dad in a race; but it’s been four years since he tried, and he thinks he could take him now. They agree that Coach Collette and Assistant Coach Nathan Lamb are “down to earth guys” and great role models who obviously care about them and explain why they ask them to do things which they appreciate.
This is a bittersweet moment in time for the athletes, the team, their parents, and their coaches. The boys leave Dexter with lifetime memories of their achievements and friendships. Lucas says expects the 2019 Dexter team to bring home a trophy from states next year. Nick says, “The team has been my family for the past four years, and I have made some of the best friends I will ever have. I will never forget the great people and memories from Dexter Cross Country and Track.”
Scott and Frances Betzoldt spoke for the parents when they shared thoughts about the team, “We have watched many of these boys grow from little kids to fine young men. We are so proud of these boys and the entire cross country team. Cross country is made up of highly motivated, intelligent, and very accomplished athletes. We have all the confidence they will all be successful at the next level and in life.”
A fun fact about Michigan Tech is that it holds two world records. They have made the largest snowball and had the largest snowball fight. It is unclear whether they fought with the largest snowball or if they had a snowball fight with regular snowballs and a record number of participants. The university is waiting to hear from Guinness about adding a third title for the most snowmen built in an hour. Unofficially, they nailed it with 2,228 a year ago February.