Esky depth shines

ESCANABA – The Escanaba boys had an opportunity to showcase their depth Saturday as they captured their fourth straight Golden K Kiwanis Invitational cross country title with 28 points.

Esky, which placed all seven of its runners in the top 12, was followed by Menominee 70 and Gwinn 89 in the large school division.

Ironwood junior Jared Joki won the 3.1-mile race in Ludington Park in 17 minutes, four seconds on this sunny, windy and mild day.

Esky junior Eric Cousineau was runner-up at 17:08 despite having breathing issues on top of the hill with less than a half-mile remaining. He was followed by Menominee’s Davey Luplow (17:14).

“When I saw him (Cousineau) stop, everybody told me to keep going,” said Joki. “I was glad to see him come in right behind me. It was a good race. I was talking to one of the parents (from Ironwood) who told me when it’s sunny and windy, it dehydrates you faster and this was one of those races which I didn’t have much left. I just had to push myself.”

Cousineau dropped into third briefly after stopping to catch his breath, but quickly caught Luplow and went after Joki.

“I just couldn’t breathe,” said Cousineau. “I think I went out too fast. I really had to work hard in the last 400 meters. This wasn’t my best time, although I’m happpy with what I did. The Ironwood kid ran a good race. I felt better than I did on Tuesday (at Munising), but I’m still a little stuffy.”

Esky freshman Joey Wolfe placed fifth (17:45), followed by four teammates.

“Joey had an excellent race,” said Esky coach Jake Berlinski. “I think he’s peaking at the right time. Eric ran a great time despite the fact he didn’t have it today. I’ve never seen a tougher kid. He just grinds it out.”

The Menominee and Gladstone girls scored 52 points apiece, with the Maroons gaining the title on a tie-breaker this time. Esky placed third at 56.

“Our girls are running a little tired,” said Gladstone coach Gary Whitmer. “But they know this is a building process and they all ran well.”

Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister remained undefeated this season in a personal-best 19:23.

“To get a PR here is awesome, especially when I’m running by myself,” said Burmeister. “I’m looking forward to having a chance to run against the Marquette girls (in the Great Northern Conference meet). This is a real nice day. I started feeling the wind in the last mile, but just had to push through it.”

Ironwood’s Jessica Gering was runner-up at 20:55, followed by Esky junior Aimee Giese (21:05), Gladstone freshman Leigha Woelffer (21:17) and Manistique sophomore Holly Blowers (21:33).

“I felt better than I did Tuesday,” said Giese. “I tried to stay with the top runners and passed the Ironwood girl at Mile 2, but I couldn’t stay ahead of her. I just had to keep going and stay up there.”

For Woelffer, this race came on the heels of an eventful day (on Friday).

“We had a lot of activities at school yesterday,” she said. “I tried to start a little slower. I don’t think I’m going to do that again. Although, I’m comfortable with what I did. This isn’t my best time. Yet, I can’t be too disappointed.”

Blowers, however, was disappointed in her performance.

“My time was a lot worse than I expected,” she said. “I’ve PR’d everytime I’ve run this course before. I was up until 4 o’clock this morning with homecoming and everything. It was just an off day. I’m looking forward to having a better race on Tuesday (at Flat Rock).”

Munising swept both ends of the small school title, with its boys edging North Central 60-66. Stephenson placed third with 72.

The Munising girls scored 31 points, followed by Rogers City 49 and Stephenson 76.

Munising freshman Marissa Immel won in 21:33, followed by Rudyard’s Kaylee Hoolsema (21:22) and Munising’s Anna Baij (21:29).

“This was great preparation for the (Division 3) U.P. Finals,” said Immel. “I’ll see many of the same people (at Harvey) and will have a better idea what to expect. This is pretty exciting. We had nice weather here today. It was hard running against the win, but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

Munising sophomore Brett Hannah was the boys’ winner at 17:17, followed by Stephenson junior Connor Cappaert (17:21) and Shelter Bay Home School’s Grady Kerst (17:25).

“I just tried to stay with Connor the whole race,” said Hannah. “He and Grady ran good races, too. Grady will be on our team next year. I think he’ll be a nice addition.”

North Central sophomore Bryce Holle placed fifth (18:19), with freshman teammate Seth Polfus sixth (18:37).

“I wanted to stay with Seth,” said Holle. “I’m real pleased with the way everything went. Seth ran pretty well, too. This was a pretty good day for running, nice and cool.”

In the jayvee races, Menominee’s Cody Porath won in 19:23, holding off Esky’s Matt Judson (19:25) for the boys’ title. Esky’s Jessie Flath was the girls’ winner at 22:59.