Ionia’s Josiah Magley toppled a school record that stood for 16 years at the Shepherd Blue Jay Invitational last Friday.
His time of 9:22.31 in the 3,200-meter run was the fastest since Doug Richards ran the race in 9:23.2 in 2006.
It also didn’t really surprise his coach James Merrifield.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if that number came down more,” Merrifield said. “His confidence has really climbed, and he’s a much more confident runner this year than he was a year ago.”
Magley’s school record was part of a winning effort for the Bulldogs in the large-school field at Shepherd, a stop on the schedule known for the quality of runners and athletes participating.
The record-breaking performance in the long race was part of a long road Magley’s been going down for some time. He’s made state before, and has taken to running a number of indoor meets to get ready for the season.
He made the state meet in cross country this fall, and all that body of work together has started to build on itself to moments like Friday’s state-record breaking run.
“It was fantastic, it was a lot of fun,” Merrifield said. He has worked really hard over the years to get where he’s at. It’s a rare thing to see him when he’s not running.”
Magley has found a rhythm to his running with the help of Merrifield and distance coach Brian Powell, who also serves as the cross county coach in the fall. The system of regulating miles, diet and rest has paid off, and Merrifield credited Magley for following the plan.
Ionia’s boys won the large-school field, while Pewamo-Westphalia kept the county flavor going in the small schools, winning both the girls and boys events for those eight schools.
Magley is part of a deep group of Bulldogs on the boys side, with fellow seniors Jimmy Peabody, Heath LaPointe, Clay Currigan, Trevor Tooker and Kullen Granger playing big roles in the win at Shepherd.
There are some exciting athletes like Sam Eppler and Jacob Montgomery that will be a part of the next Bulldogs squad. But Merrifield knows that a group like his senior class and runners like Magley are special.
“It’s exciting but sad at the same time,” Merrifield said. “We have such a strong group and fairly large group of seniors. A good number came in as point scorers as freshmen. They’ve really brought the team where they are now.”