GNC track: Braves, Redettes reclaim their crowns

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone boys benefitted from a strong showing in the field events Thursday, retaining their Great Northern Conference track title with 138 points.

They were followed by Menominee 104, Marquette 93, Kingsford 87, Escanaba 81 and Stephenson 20.

Marquette’s girls gained their seventh consecutive crown with 193 points, followed by Esky 116 1/2, Kingsford 86, Menominee 81 1/2, Gladstone 36 and Stephenson 10.

The Gladstone boys scored 95 points in the field events, with seniors Justin Pederson and Jared Vuksan winning two apiece.

Pederson took long jump with a school-record leap of 21 feet, seven inches, and high jump at 5-10 and Vuksan copped shot put (52-0) and discus (140-7) on this sunny, but chilly and windy day.

“The wind effected the disc at first,” said Vuksan. “My first couple throws didn’t go well. I had to adjust to the wind. Once I got used to it, I threw a lot better. Overall, I’m real happy with the way I’m throwing. Now, I need to keep working on my form in shot and getting a more level release in disc.”

Vuksan was also runner-up in long jump with a personal-best leap of 19-8 and anchored the second-place 400 relay.

“I took more time to warm up before jumping,” he said. “I was a little better prepared than I was in the (Division 1) regional.”

Gladstone senior Zach Sturdy, who cleared 12 feet in pole vault, was runner-up to Kingsford’s Ryan Camp on a tie-breaker.

“Zach jumped well. I think he realizes what he needs to do at the (Upper Peninsula) Finals,” said Braves’ coach Gary Whitmer. “Jared had a nice day for us. Justin had a little misfortune (false start) in the 100, but responded well after that. What he did in long jump is impressive considering how cold and windy it was.

“Our guys in the 400 did what they needed to do. Kyle (Kleiman) had a chance to work on his speed by doing the 200 today.”

Gladstone junior Chris Sedenquist was runner-up in the 400 (51.87). Kleiman was third in the 400 (54.09) and fourth in the 200 (23.84).

Esky sophomore Eric Cousineau won the 3200 (10:14), helped the Eskymos win the 3200 relay and placed third in the 1600 (4:48.36).

“Eric is attacking a lot more,” said Esky coach Ryan Wender. “He’s a tough runner. He gives us everything he has. I like how he runs.”

Marquette freshman Lance Rambo won the 1600 (4:41), with Esky senior Andrew Stenberg runner-up (4:47.03).

“The 1600 was a good race,” said Wender. “We’ve kind of put it together the past couple meets. We’re running some nice times in the (open) 3200 and our 3200 relay has been pretty consistent all year. It was nice to get some points in long jump and a couple places in pole vault. Otherwise, we’ve been pretty consistent where we’ve been strong.”

Among the girls, Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden set meet records in the 800 (2:20) and 1600 (5:10.65), topping the previous league bests of 2:21.59 and 5:21.06, set by Marquette’s Katie and Emily Anderson, respectively, in 1999.

“It was a good day,” said Rudden, whose 800 PR is 2:17. “It felt like I could run forever today. I love the GNC meet. The big meets are always more fun than the smaller ones. I guess the wind played a factor in the 800, but I’m real happy with my mile right now.”

Teammate Hunter Viitala added firsts in the 300 hurdles (48.22) and high jump (4-10) and Shayla Huebner copped the 400 in 60 seconds flat.

“Lindsey ran some great races,” said Marquette coach John Peterson. “Anytime you break two conference records in one day, it’s a pretty good day. Shayla Huebner, Hunter Viitala and Kathleen Noblet also had good days. We took a run at the school record in the 1600 relay and came up short by three seconds (4:10.73). I think we’re setting up pretty well for the U.P. Finals.”

Kingsford senior Carlee Benzie won the 100 (12.79), 200 (27.18), long jump (15-7) and led off the winning 800 relay.

“The weather was great,” said Benzie, who will play basketball at Kirtland Community College near Roscommon next season. “It definitely helped to have the wind on our back in the home stretch. I just tried to push through it on the back stretch. It definitely helped to have this meet before the U.P. Finals. The GNC always has good competition.”

Esky didn’t take any firsts, but collected seven runner-up finishes. Senior Holly Ettenhofer took second in pole vault (8-6) on a tie-breaker, shot put (29-9) and discus (91-0).

“Our goal was to take second, although I think we underachieved,” said Esky coach Dan DeLong. “Holly had a good day. I thought our 3200 relay also ran well. We had a pretty big lead, but just couldn’t hold on. We also got third and fifth in long jump, which are two places I didn’t think we’d get. We kind of got going in the 300 hurdles. Those were two strong events for us.”

Esky junior Lynsey Collins place second in 300 hurdles (49.47) and Sunny Martineau was third (52.38).

In the 800, junior Brittinie Larson was runner-up (2:37.65), with teammates Isabelle Wellman third (2:40.11) and Aubree Peterson fifth (2:41.29).

Sophomore Aimee Giese added a second in the 3200 (12:24.31) and third in the 1600 (5:41.39).

“Aimee had solid distance races,” said DeLong. “She was patient in the 3200 and it worked out for her.”

Senior Jessica Young, who provided Gladstone with its lone first in discus (103-4), took third in shot put (29-1 1/2).

“The field events are where we scored most of our points,” said Braves’ coach Jim Murtha. “Jessica threw well into a stiff north wind. We took a fourth in high jump, which is awesome. This is the first time we’ve scored in high jump all year. We did what we could.”