Defending state champion eyes another huge track season for Evart

EVART —  Max Hodges comes into this boys track season as the defending 800-meter state champion in Division 4.

The Evart senior is off to a good start in his hopes of earning another state title.

The Wildcats made their season debut Friday at Grand Valley State in an indoor meet. Hodges won the 800 in 2:04.66.

Last season, Hodges won the 800 in the MHSAA state meet and also helped the Wildcats win their second straight MITCA team title. His best 800 time has been a 1:58 which he clocked at the state meet.

This spring, Hodges would like to get a 1:54 or a 1:55 in the 800. He’s looking to improve in the middle part of the race.

“I usually start out pretty strong, slow down in the middle and kick it in gear the last 200 or 300 meters,” Hodges said.

The Evart senior also expects to see action in the 1,600-meter run, 4 by 8 meter, the 400 and 4 by 4. The relays, despite the graduation of district standouts Logan Hammer and David Zinger, “is still going to be strong. Santana Scott and me are coming back in the 4 by 8 and we have a couple of stronger runners, and a couple of freshmen and sophomores that are potential runners for that.”

Hodges finished a solid senior cross country season and has been training for track all winter.

“I think I’m in decent shape right now,” he said. “I’m not entirely in shape. I think I’m pretty good.”

Last season, toward the end or middle of May, is when Hodges considered himself as running at his best.

Evart is scheduled to have a road meet April 3 against Carson City-Crystal, weather-permitting. If not, the next meet is at Mesick after spring break on April 17.

“We’re going to be strong. We have a lot more distance runners this year,” Hodges said. “We have a lot of two-milers and milers.”

The Wildcats won a lot of titles last season, including MITCA again, and Hodges said it’s the goal to bring more trophies to the school this year.

“We’re shooting for (the) Highland. Regionals are going to be at Saugatuck this year. They’re going to be hard to beat,” Hodges said. “We’ll go out and try to beat them.”

In the Highland, Hodges expects Pine River to be tough.

After the track season ends, Hodges will focus on an academic and athletic career at Ferris State.

“I’ve been accepted to the college and I’ve talked to the coach,” Hodges said, adding that he’ll be running cross country and track. “I’m very much looking forward to college. It’s a different program than what I’m used to. I’m hoping to improve in all my areas in my distance and in my mid-distance.”