Corunna High senior Noah Jacobs was waiting for it on his calendar.
He was giddy for it, actually.
The Gazelle Sports Elite Series mile sponsored by New Balance at Grand Valley State University's indoor track on Saturday was that important.
Because there were few times the University of Wisconsin signee knew he would be among high school competition like this. That he would be tested like this. That he would be forced outside his comfort zone like this.
"It's really cool," said Jacobs, who was invited for the second straight year to the top 16 race in Michigan. "I get to meet a bunch of new people and you get to wear some sweet jerseys. You get to have fun and run hard with a bunch of fast kids."
On Saturday he was the fastest, turning in a winning US #6 time of 4:17.67 to beat the field. The returning indoor and outdoor state champion in the 3200m finished with a kick past Oak Park senior Cameron Cooper (4:19.39), US #1 in the 800, and Middleville-Thornapple Kellogg senior Luke Noah (4:23.88).
"He's a great competitor," Jacobs said of Cooper. "He definitely helped me run fast."
The girls race saw Midland Dow freshman Anna Jensen winning in a US #5 time of 4:55.69, her second straight victory in the race. The field followed with Battle Creek Lakeview senior Maggie Farrell (4:57.49) and Ann Arbor Pioneer junior Anne Forsyth (5:00.44).
"I told her the goal was to sit in there as long as she needed and let the girls dictate the speed of the race," Jensen's coach, Jed Hopfensberger said. "Then if she felt good at the end, she could walk away with it. That's the way she generally does it. She's pretty strong."
Hopfensperger said Jensen will only get better the rest of the season.
"She's a tough racer," he said. "Sometimes I don't even tell her what to do. I'll say, 'You know how to handle it.'"
The field in the boys race cruised into the 800 in 2:12, with Cooper leading the way, Jacobs said. "And then he started to speed up slowly on the last 800," Jacobs said. "I was the only one to go with him."
By then, it became a race between who had more left in the tank.
Jacobs, who had previously run an indoor 1:59.49 800m and had closed for an outdoor 4:17.08 1600m, found a little extra left in the engine to defeat Cooper's deafening 800 closing speed.
"It was more of a closing race," Jacobs said.
But the race was only the beginning for Jacobs and Corunna, which hopes to make a run at the Michigan outdoor state title.
Jacobs, a captain of the program who leads by example, hopes to begin first with a strong finish to the indoor season.
The senior said Corunna will try to make a run at qualifying for the New Balance Nationals Indoor boys DMR and the 4xmile.
"Everything I've done, it's more fun when we win as a team," Jacobs said. "You run well, that's great, but it's better when you celebrate together."
MileSplit Profile: Noah Jacobs
MileSplit National Leaders: Mile