Small schools shine at Mid Peninsula track Invitational

PERKINS – Track athletes from some of the smallest high schools in the Upper Peninsula had their chance to shine Tuesday in the first Mid Peninsula Small School Invitational.

And it was the Big Bay de Noc boys and Mid Pen girls who were crowned champions in a meet featuring schools with enrollments of less than 100.

The Big Bay boys collected 160 points, followed by Mid Pen 134 and Carney-Nadeau 66.

Mid Pen’s girls scored 110, with runner-up BIg Bay at 89 and third-place Carney 78.

Junior Cole Potvin led the Big Bay boys by winning the 200-meter dash in 24.85 seconds, 400 (56.41), 1600 (5:45.75) and placing third in high jump (5-8).

“We kept Cole out of the relays and put him in four individual events to get us some points,” said Big Bay coach Dave Partyka. “This is the first time in quite a while we’ve been able to fill all four relays. It was exciting for me as a coach to find ways we could get the most points in a meet. Ryan Minor ran in all four relays and had a real big day for us. This meet had definitely gotten our kids excited about track the past week. This was a great opportunity for our kids.”

MId Pen senior Brett Branstrom swept the weight events with school-record tosses of 48 feet, 6 1/2 inches in shot put and 159-1 in discus. He also placed second in the 800 (2:19.23) and third in long jump (16-4 1/2).

“The 800 was definitely a new experience for me,” said Branstrom. “That’s something you have to train for. I’m used to running just one lap (in the 1600 relay). I think it was pretty cool having our own invitational for the first time. It was nice to have a chance to compete for a team title.

“I think the warmer weather was a factor in shot put and discus. The (arm and leg) muscles just don’t work as well in the cold.”

Carney junior Jason DuPont became a triple-winner, taking the 100 (12.24), 800 (2:48.24) and long jump (17-6).

For the girls, Mid Pen senior Krysta VanDamme also swept the weight events, winning discus (108-1) and shot put (31-7 1/2). Her effort in discus matched the school record set by Holly Kivioja in 2009.

“I don’t think Krysta knows she tied the school record,” said Mid Pen coach Julie Beauchamp. “She’s sure going to be surprised when she finds out tomorrow (actually today).”

Junior Kelsey Shope won high jump (5-2) and 400 (1:06.63) and helped the Wolverines win the 1600 relay.

“I went down to St. Norbert College this weekend and my cousin (assistant coach Jordan Gobert) had me do some jumping in an elite meet at the college,” said Shope. “I also won that at 5-2. It was a big confidence boost after talking to Jordan. The 400 went all right for the first time doing it this year and we’re doing better in the 1600 relay.”

Mid Pen eighth-grader Sarah Hanson copped the 1600 (6:17.16) and 3200 (14:25.05).

“I think running against the bigger schools helped me out today,” said Hanson, who set the school junior high 1600 record at 6:01 on Monday. I think this gives me a little more confidence going into Thursday (the Rapid River Invitational).”

Sophomore Christine Shope won the 800 (2:56.97). The Hanson sisters also helped the winning 3200 relay.

“The Hanson girls did pretty good today,” said Beauchamp. “The majority of our team is young. I think they’re still learning that they can compete. I’m pretty excited with how well the girls did. They were all excited about this meet, knowing they had a chance to place.”

Big Bay freshman Kelsi Stapleton was a triple-winner, taking the 200 (29.11), 300 hurdles (54.48) and long jump (13-5).