CUP conference to square off today

PERKINS – As a general rule, conference track championships aren’t decided before the end of April.

There’s an exception to every rule, however, and today’s Central U.P. Conference meet at Mid Peninsula falls into that category.

Also entered are Rapid River, Big Bay de Noc, Munising, Superior Central, Bark River-Harris, North Central and Carney-Nadeau.

Field events begin at 2 p.m. Running events start at 2:30.

The Rapid River boys are shooting for the sixth straight title and the Superior Central girls hope to retain their crown.

In Thursday’s Delta County Invitational in Escanaba, the Rapid River boys placed third with 106 points. Gladstone won for the 10th straight year at 189 and runner-up Esky had 131.

“I was very pleased with our effort in the Delta County Invitational,” said Rockets’ coach Steve Ostrenga. “Some of our guys ran their best times. We were very happy to be over 100 points. Gladstone has a strong program and Escanaba is coming along very nicely.”

Rapid River grabbed the top two spots in the 110-meter hurdles Thursday, with junior Riley Pajnich winning in 17.37 seconds and sophomore Steve Johnson runner-up.

“I thought our hurdlers did well,” said Ostrenga. “We also had an excellent effort from Jake Pearson and Hayden Hardwick (in the weight events). Robert Metter performed well (in pole vault) and Geno Constantino ran for the first time in two years. Those are the things that make me happy.”

Big Bay junior Cole Potvin is fresh from taking the county 400 title in a school-record 51.81 seconds, and Mid Pen senior Brett Branstrom established a school record 47-11 toss in shot put while placing second to Gladstone senior Jared Vuksan.

“What a nice time Cole ran,” said Ostrenga. “Brett is a very, very good athlete. He puts the time in. He works hard in athletics and the classroom. North Central has some good sprinters and field events people and Superior Central’s relays are pretty tough. I really don’t know if anybody knows where they’re at yet. This year, more than anything, we’re trying to get some questions answered.”

Also among those to watch are North Central’s Josh Granquist (middle distance), Munising’s Brett Hannah (distance) and Lucas Gauthier (sprints), Superior Central’s Tucker Spranger (distance), Mid Pen’s Chad Branstrom (high jump) and Rapid River’s Dan Blair (distance).

BR-H won the 800 relay in its season-opener at Marquette’s Superior Dome and Carney opened its season Monday at Stephenson.

The Superior Central girls, led by junior sprinter Teslyn Tyner, placed sixth in Friday’s Manistique Kiwanis Invitational.

Tyner set meet records in the 100 (13.41) and long jump (15-7 1/2) and helped the Cougars take fifth in both sprint relays.

Others to watch are Mid Pen’s Krysta VanDamme (weight events) and Kayla Shope (high jump), Rapid River’s Neena Brockway (weight events) and BR-H’s Alex Parrotta (high jump and sprints) and Kim Palo (pole vault), North Central’s Baylee Wells and Sydney Campbell (high jump) and Carney’s Becca Essa (400) and Autam Wery (300 hurdles).