Cross Country: Woelffer, Braves girls win North Central Invite on tiebreaker

WILSON – Delta County cross country teams have made it difficult for the Menominee girls to win tie-breakers since the beginning of last season.

It was Gladstone’s turn to edge the Maroons Wednesday as both teams scored 40 points. Munising placed third with 83 points.

Escanaba took three tie-breakers from Menominee during the 2012 season.

On Wednesday, junior Josie Gardner placed 20th and become the Braves’ sixth finisher. Menominee’s sixth runner came in 22nd.

“It’s great competition among us, Escanaba and Gladstone,” said Menominee coach Suzi Merrill. “I think the GNC (Great Northern Conference) is going to be real strong from top to bottom this year.”

Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister won the 3.3-mile race in 22 minutes, seven seconds on this sunny and mild day.

“I wasn’t too happy with my race,” Burmeister said before realizing the course was longer than the usual 3.1 miles. “I just didn’t seem to have it today. It seemed like everybody was about a minute slower than they thought they’d be. I just have to keep training and get better.”

Gladstone freshman Leigha Woelffer was runner-up (23:02), with Munising’s Marissa Immel third (24:30).

“I definitely didn’t run my fastest,” said Woelffer. “I went out way too fast. This is a hard course and my calves were real sore. The weather wasn’t bad, though. The little breeze we had out there felt good at times.”

The Braves placed four in the top 10, which was pleasing to coach Gary Whitmer.

“The girls are working real hard,” he said. “It has been a while since we’ve had a frontrunner. Leigha looked relaxed and ran a good pace. Anna Shier was also real impressive today (sixth at 25:56). We really can’t look at these times too much because the course was long.”

The Menominee boys won with 46 points, followed by Kingsford 73 and North Central 95.

Kingsford sophomore Nate Carey won in 19:25, holding off runner-up Davey Luplow of Menominee (19:31). Munising sophomore Brett Hannah placed third (19:49).

“Davey was right with me,” said Carey. “Our coach (Dan Carey) was there to push us right after the second mile. I thought our team did real well. We had some guys pull through today. We also had real good weather. We had better conditions than in the past two races (at Munising and Marquette). It was hot and humid up there.”

North Central’s Seth Polfus was the top area finisher in sixth (20:48), followed by Carney-Nadeau’s Dionte Blahnik (21:15) and teammate Bryce Holle (21:36).

“The boys are working real hard,” said North Central coach Jerry Root. “This is the highest we’ve finished in this meet. We’re happy with our effort. The first two meets are always tough because there are so many big schools.”

Gladstone placed fourth this time with 101 points.

“I think our guys are coming along real well,” said Whitmer. “We’re training through a lot of these meets right now. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Changes were made to the course to make it more viewer friendly than in the past.

“Unfortunately, the course was too long,” said Root. “We’re going to eliminate the mountain (big hill) and do some loops. We’ll also make another adjustment before our Division 3 Invitational (on Sept. 18) to make it even more viewer friendly and safer for the runners.”