St. Ignace girls finish fifth at U.P. Finals
KINGSFORD - Girls' track teams from the Eastern Upper Peninsula were well out of the running for team titles, but several area individuals took firsts at Saturday's U.P. Finals.
St. Ignace came the closest among EUP schools, finishing fifth in Division 2 with 62 points. Westwood, led by distance ace Amber Smith, repeated as champion by slipping past Iron Mountain 93-91. Norway placed third with 78.
St. Ignace accounted for one first-place finish. That happened in the day's final race, the 1600 relay, where the Saints were clocked in 4:15.15. Norway was runner-up at 4:17.03.
"Our handoffs went pretty well," said St Ignace junior Krista Clement, who anchored the winning relay team. "It's always a good feeling to go home with a win. We were seeded first by less than a second, so it was kind of scary coming in. We knew they (Norway) would be tough."
Smith set records in the 800-meter run in two minutes, 18.12 seconds and the 1600 at 5:01.23 and won the 3200 in 11:07.78. Clement provided the strongest challenge for Smith by taking second in the 800 (2:21.4).
"She (Clement) is a real good athlete," said Smith. "If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been able to get the time I had. I could hear her footsteps and breathing on the last turn. That definitely motivated me to pick up my pace."
This marked the second straight year Smith set records in the 800 and 1600, topping her previous marks of 2:20.15 and 5:04.06. Saturday's efforts left Smith less than 2 seconds shy of the all-time U.P. record in the 800 (2:15.8) and slightly more than a second short in the 1600 (5:00.1), both set by Krista O'Dell of Escanaba three years ago.
Hancock's Stephanie Mishica matched the pole vault record at nine feet, a mark she shares with Robin Vitton of Hancock from a year ago and Kate Ruegg of St. Ignace (2001).
Newberry's Rachel Ronquist accounted for a first with a 13.28 clocking in the 100.
Pickford's four-year reign as Division 3 champion ended as the Panthers slipped to fifth this time.
Rapid River won its first title in six years by collecting 131 points. Mid Pen held off Bessemer 60-58 for runner-up honors. The Panthers finished with 55.
Pickford's Rosanna Chapman copped the 800 in 2:30.4 and anchored the winning 3200 relay.
Mid Pen's Shalyn Beauchamp was runner-up in a personal best 2:33.18 and Rapid River's Dani Holmgren, who was the early leader, slipped to third (2:33.43).
"She (Holmgren) knew she had to go out hard and I knew I had to stay with her," said Chapman, who made her move with approximately 150 meters remaining. "Once I got the lead I told myself I had to keep going. In front of this crowd, you sometimes can't here the other peoples' footsteps. They will give their all until the end of the race."
Cedarville's Caroline Cochran, who split a pair of tight hurdle races with Rapid River's Cassi Rushford, won the 100s in 16.9 seconds and was runner-up in the 300s (50.4). Rushford, second in the shorter race, was clocked at 16.96 and covered the 300s in 50.25.
"I didn't feel strong coming out of the blocks in the 100," said Cochran."I saw her (Rushford) alongside me and I kicked it in at the end. She got ahead of me in the 300s. I tried to stay with her, but just couldn't pull it off."
Mid Pen's Becky Baron set the all-time U.P. record in the 100 in 12.5 seconds. Baron's effort topped the previous mark of 12.6 shared by Kara Scherer of Cedarville (1991) and Darlene Allen of Norway (1979) in Division and Michelle Blake of Menominee (1984), who still holds the Division 1 record.
In Division 1, Esky captured its first title since 1992 by edging Marquette 94-90. Third-place Menominee collected 63 points and Sault High finished eighth with 31.
Sault High's Emily Browning won pole vault (9-9) and Emily Bailey took high jump (4-11).
Hunter wins three at U.P. Finals
KINGSFORD - The Pickford boys were in the hunt, but couldn't quite land an Upper Peninsula track title Saturday.
Rapid River collected its fourth straight Division 3 title by scoring 63 points, making the Rockets 6-for-6 at Flivver Field. Bark River-Harris retained its runner-up spot with 58 and Pickford was third at 53.
Brad Hunter, who won three tight races, led Pickford. Hunter took the 400-meter dash in 52.5 seconds, edging Bessemer's Andrew Mettler by less than a half-second. He also copped the 800 (2:03.59) and 1600 (4:36.18).
Wakefield's Ryan Holm was runner-up in the 800 (2:04.43) and 1600 (4:38). North Central's Luke Moilanen, who set the pace early in the 800, ended up third in 2:05.38.
"I expected somebody else to set the pace (in the 800)," said Hunter, who ran a meet-record 2:02.42 at the Rapid River Invitational three weeks ago.
"This wasn't quite a 2:02, but I'm happy with it. It's kind of tough coming off the 400. The 400 is a burnout race and my legs were kind of tight after that. I just didn't fully recover for the 800, so I was content to wait out the first lap."
In the 1600, Painesdale's Sam Kilpela took third (4:41.75) and Joss Martin of Crystal Falls, the early leader, faded to fourth.
"We let Joss set the pace and we drafted off him," Hunter said while making note of the breeze the athletes ran into on the back stretch.
David Sanderson accounted for Cedarville's lone first with a 42.4 clocking in the 300 hurdles. Tyler Chernack of Crystal Falls took second at 43.34.
"I came out fast," Sanderson said shortly after earning his first U.P. title. "I had a lot of adrenalin going. I knew the guys alongside me were the fast guys and was able to keep my endurance up."
Sanderson also placed second in two events. He was runner-up to BR-H's Brock Bower in the 110 hurdles and Superior Central's Joe Pociopa in pole vault.
Ishpeming won the the Division 2 championship with 77 points, marking the school's first U.P. title since 1967 when its boys were crowned Class A-B champs. Norway, which shared the title with Stephenson a year ago, settled for second at 71. Iron Mountain finished third with 68 and St. Ignace took fourth at 57.
Nick Adams accounted for St. Ignace's lone first with a 2:02 clocking in the 800.
"I just tried to focus on the race itself," said Adams. "I didn't do as well as I hoped here last year and tried to prepare myself mentally. I knew there would be a lot of competition here last year, only I had to get used to running in front of a bigger crowd. Our coaches do everything they can to help us. They do a real good job preparing us."
Adam Brown gave Newberry a first with a leap of 12 feet in pole vault. St. Ignace's Aaron Gutchess was runner-up at 11-6.
Marquette repeated as Division 1 champ by edging Menominee 115-108. Kingsford placed third with 72 and Sault High finished seventh at 27.
Matt Labron, who placed second in long jump, was Sault High's top finisher. He soared 19 feet, 10 inches. Kingsford's Steve Short won with a leap of 20-5.
Marquette's Chris Peterson set a record in the 300 hurdles at 40.21 seconds, topping the previous best (40.5) set by John Schneider of Sault High in 1988.
The Redmen also set a record in the 1600 relay at 3:29.18, marking the first time a U.P. team has broken 3:30.