Jets edged at Banat

BANAT – The North Central boys were in the hunt, but fell a little short in their quest for a cross country title in Saturday’s Carney-Nadeau Invitational.

Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas was crowned champion with 53 points, followed by North Central 59 and Carney 66 at the Dale Fountain Memorial Cross Country Course.

“Lena’s fifth runner made a difference,” said North Central coach Jerry Root. “I’m real happy with the effort. You always like to win, but Lena came loaded today.”

The Stephenson girls won with 50 points, followed by St. Thomas Aquinas 56 and Stephenson 58.

Stephenson junior Connor Cappaert cruised to victory in the boys’ race, covering the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 29 seconds on this rainy, but mild day.

“This is a great confidence boost for the GNC (Great Northern Conference) and U.P. (Division 3) Finals,” said Cappaert. “I’m glad we had a chance to race on our home course today. This helps us get ready for the GNC (on the same course Thursday).”

Carney senior Dionte Blahnik took second (18:05), holding off North Central freshman Seth Polfus (18:06).

“I felt pretty good today,” said Polfus. “The course was a little slippery in spots, but it was nice and cool. It was comfortable for running. Dionte works the hills pretty good, and I just tried to stay with him.”

Superior Central senior Nick Maki placed fourth (18:21) and North Central sophomore Bryce Holle was fifth (18:25).

This marked the return of North Central junior Dillon Robinson, who had been battling an ankle injury and respiratory issues in recent weeks. He took 14th (20:31).

“It was good to have Dillon back,” said Root. “He gutted this one out and was our third runner today.”

In the girls’ race, Stephenson sophomore Caitlyn Havelka earned her first victory in 23:12.

“I wanted to control my pace,” said Havelka. “I just wanted to make sure I had enough left in the end, if needed.”

Cappaert was also pleased to see Havelka and the Eagles break into the win column.

“I’m real happy for Caitlyn and our girls’ team,” he said. “This is good for her and the team going into the GNC and Finals. The team is growing.”

Superior Central junior Evie Walters was runner-up (24:35), followed by Carney’s Morgan DuPont (25:01) and Samantha Charlier (25:21).

“I just settled into a pace and stuck with it,” said Walters. “I was trying to keep up with her (Havelka). but she’s really good. The Carney girl (DuPont) nearly caught me halfway through the race. I’m just getting over bronchitis, although I’m starting to feel better. The Ishpeming Invitational (on Thursday) was my first race after missing about two weeks.”

The Cougars ran without senior Selina Walters, who’s nursing a foot injury.