U.P. Track Finals Division 1 Boys: Mission Accomplished for Gladstone

KINGSFORD – Mission accomplished.

The Gladstone boys did what they set out to do Saturday, earning their first Upper Peninsula Division 1 track title in four years with 112 points.

They were followed by Menominee 80, Kingsford 73, three-time defending champ Marquette 61 and Escanaba 55.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” said Gladstone athletic director/assistant coach Matt Houle. “They were prepared, confident and ready to go.”

The Braves, led by seniors Jared Vuksan and Justin Pederson, scored 69 points in the field events.

“We had to dominate those to win the meet,” said Houle, who was filling in for head coach Gary Whitmer. “All the kids stepped up in the field events. We took control in the field, and the guys in the running events took care of business.”

Whitmer was unable to make the trip to Kingsford after suffering a broken sternum in an automobile accident Friday.

Senior Jared Vuksan set the U.P. discus record at 55 feet, 11 1/4 inches, topping the previous best (52-1/2) set three years ago by Braves’ now-volunteer assistant Kent King. That toss was also enough to surpass Vuksan’s former school record (54-7), which he set last year.

Vuksan, who will play football at Northern Michigan University this fall, also set a school record in discus with a winning toss of 153-2 3/4 and placed fourth in long jump (18-4).

“My release was a lot better today in disc,” he said. “I evened out my throw and the disc came out flatter. I got the U.P. record in shot on my last throw. I stayed low and my footwork was good. My first throw was 50-5 and I think that set the tone. I really got pumped for the last throw. That was a great way to finish.”

Pederson added firsts in high jump (6-3) and long jump (21-1/2) and took second in the 100 (11.31).

Kingsford junior Cole Tengesdahl won the 100 at 11.26,

“I’m a little disappointed in my 100, although I have to take my hat off to Cole,” said Pederson, who plans to run track at Michigan State as a walk-on next season. “In high jump, everyone went out after six feet and I kept going. There was a lot of pressure, but I seem to do better in that situation. After I cleared 6-3, I went up to 6-5 and knicked the bar on the way down (on the first try).

“My goal in long jump was just to break 21. I just tried to stay consistent.”

Junior Chris Sedenquist added a first for the Braves in the 400 (51.39).

Esky more than doubled its point total from a year ago (27), scoring 36 of its 55 points in the distances.

“All the kids performed well,” said Esky coach Ryan Wender. “Our distances were solid again. Our squad is growing every year and we’re losing only two seniors. We’re getting better. Only, we need to find guys in the field events. We have some field events coming. We just need to develop them.”

Sophomore Eric Cousineau won the 3200 in a personal-best 10:10.10 and helped Esky win the 3200 relay.

“I wanted to hit 1:15 laps,” Cousineau said, noting he wanted to do the first mile under five minutes. “I did the 5-Ks (in Escanaba and Rapid River) last weekend, and I think those helped me get in the mood for running the 3200 competitively. Our team did well here today. I think things are looking up for Esky boys’ track.”

Senior Andrew Stenberg, last year’s 1600-meter champ, took fourth in that race this time (4:41.23), third in the 3200 (10:22.81) and helped Esky’s 3200 relay.