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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Congrats to Novi coach Bob Smith

I want to send out a big congratulations to Novi boys cross country coach Bob Smith. He was recently inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Cross Country Hall of Fame.
Truthfully, there is not a more deserving person to receive this honor. In all of my 16 years of covering high school sports - at five different newspapers - Bob is probably the coach I have enjoyed working with the most. Upon taking just my second job out of college - at the Novi News and Northville Record - he welcomed this (at the time) young reporter into the great world of running. Not a runner myself, he shared his knowledge of the sport with me. I learned a lot about cross country running and thoroughly enjoyed spending time covering the sport.
Novi boys cross country coach Bob Smith
was recently inducted into the MITCA
Hall of Fame.
That first Wildcat team I covered did not make it to the state finals in 1997. But it's best runner, Kevin Avenius, did. And he finished fourth, just three seconds behind the state champion. His teammates took notes. A year later, everyone returned and the team went to Michigan International Speedway and captured a state championship, beating a heavily favored Rockford team that featured two of the best runners to ever come through the state of Michigan - one of which was Dathan Ritzenhein (the best runner I've ever seen in person).
Kevin Avenius, fellow seniors Dan Christopherson and Mike Burns, and a young and talented crew that would go on to leave their legacy with the school - Chris Toloff, Mark Avenius, Eric Walle and Tim Moore - pulled off a shocker. I remember the excitement of following coach Smith around as he and his assistants and parents counted the points. I saw the excitement in his face when he had it all figured out. I shook his hand.
And then the sheer joy that followed as everyone celebrated the first state cross country championship in school history - that was great to be a part of. 
It was at that point that I truly enjoyed covering high school cross country. Though I've not covered the sport much since leaving Novi - Marvin Goodwin is our cross country guru here at The Oakland Press - some of my fondest memories as a sports reporter came during my time covering sports in Novi. 
So again, congratulations to Bob - and the entire Novi running community. You've got a special coach there. 

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