Merrick Michaelson
Merrick Michaelson (left) of Frankel Jewish Academy competes in the cross county state meet at Michigan International Speedway. (Rick Dorn)

Merrick Michaelson was the first Frankel Jewish Academy cross country runner to make it to state.

Merrick Michaelson made history Nov. 6, becoming the first Frankel Jewish Academy athlete to compete at the state cross country meet.

Mickelson finished 49th of 244 runners in Division 4 at Michigan International Speedway in 18:08.

The 15-year-old sophomore from Farmington Hills was allowed to run in the Division 2 race Nov. 6 because the Division 4 race was the next day during Shabbos, and his time was added to the Division 4 times.

“There was beautiful weather both days, so slotting Merrick’s time into the Division 4 times worked well,” said FJA Athletic Director Rick Dorn.

Merrick Michaelson
Frankel Jewish Academy cross country runner Merrick Michaelson shows off the medal he earned at the Division 4 regional meet at Chandler Park Golf Course in Detroit. Melissa Michaelson

Michaelson learned from Dorn after the Nov. 6 race that he was the first FJA cross country runner to make it to state.

“I’m really proud that I represented my school at the state meet,” Michaelson said. “And I’m proud of my time there. It was consistent with other times I’ve run this season even though it was really warm (Nov. 6).”

Michaelson won in regionals (18:06) and finished third in the sectional at Chandler Park Golf Course in Detroit (17:47.9) to get to state.

“Getting to state this season was a goal,” he said, especially after what he endured last year.

Michaelson was hampered by three stress fractures in his right ankle during the post-season last year, and he took some time off at the start of this season after tweaking the injury.

FJA has had a cross country program for more than 10 years. This was Andy Picard’s third year as coach.

“Merrick did a great job at the state meet,” Picard said. “The competition was tougher than he’s ever faced, but he thrives on challenges like that.

“We knew Merrick probably wasn’t going to be among the top 30 finishers at the state meet and be All-State, so it was important for him to enjoy the experience, and he did that. I’m happy he had an opportunity to run at state.”

It was a different cross country season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with runners mandated to wear a mask when they weren’t running, and spectators limited to two per runner at meets.

Michaelson is now turning his sights to basketball. He was a starter for the FJA boys basketball team last winter. The 5-foot-4 shooting guard is hoping for a basketball season this winter.