UP XC Finals: Jets win first D-3 title

HARVEY – It was an emotional ending to the cross country season for the North Central boys Saturday as they captured their first Upper Peninsula Division 3 championship with 66 points.

Runner-up Pickford scored 68 and third-place Cedarville had 109.

“The whole team stepped up,” Jets’ coach Jerry Root said through tears of joy. “These kids worked so hard. They never had a bad attitude one day. To step up the way these kids did is amazing. Pickford and Cedarville were the real deal. They were tough.”

North Central freshman Seth Polfus placed third at Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course, covering the 3.1-mile event in 18 minutes, 18 seconds on this sunny and seasonably cool day.

“At first, I thought Pickford or Cedarville won it,” said Polfus. “Then, we saw Mr. Root with a big smile on his face. We knew then we won it. This is a great day for our team. Also, this really means something for our school.

“The course got muddy (following Friday’s rainfall) after Mile 2,” Polfus added.,”although I thought it was a good day to be running.”

Sophomore teammate Bryce Holle took fourth at 18:22.

“I’m pleased with my race,” said Holle. “It was pretty sloppy out there, which made it hard to make the turns. Seth and I battled back and forth as we did all year.”

Stephenson junior Connor Cappaert, who was crowned D-2 champion a year ago, became this year’s D-3 winner at 17:39, with Bessemer junior Zach Mazurek runner-up (17:57).

“This is so awesome,” said Cappaert, who was also choked up after the meet. “I’ve got to thank God and everyone who supported me. I couldn’t do it without them and our team. Zach really turned it on in this race. The North Central guys ran great, too. I felt a little cramping with a half-mile to go, but I knew I had to keep going. It’s quite an honor being a champion in two divisions.”

Superior Central senior Nick Maki took fifth (18:27), with Carney-Nadeau senior Dionte Blahnik sixth (18:34).

Munising sophomore and last year’s D-3 champ Brett Hannah slipped to 10th this time (19:02).

This also ended a two-year championship reign for Munising, which didn’t field a complete team Saturday.

Marquette copped D-1 for the first time in three years with 42 points, followed by Escanaba 75, Houghton 86 and defending champion Sault Ste. Marie 108.

Marquette sophomore Lance Rambo recorded the day’s fastest time at 16:56, followed by senior teammate Cole Rieboldt (17:07), Houghton junior David Jazsczak (17:22), Kingsford sophomore Nate Carey (17:26) and Esky freshman Joey Wolfe (17:29).

Also representing Esky on the podium was junior Eric Cousineau, who took seventh (17:36).

“I thought our boys did a great job,” said Esky coach Jake Berlinski. “Joey Wolfe taking fifth as a freshman is awesome. Eric kind of ran out of gas. I think we peaked too early with him.”

Gladstone’s leaders were junior Ryan Hubert in 50th (20:06) and Andrew Olesak 51st (20:14).

“I felt bad for Andrew,” said Braves’ coach Gary Whitmer. “He went out pretty hard, then he cramped up. He’s putting in some miles. Maybe he’ll drop his time a little next year.”

St. Ignace earned its first D-2 title with 57 points. Hancock edged Ishpeming 67-69 for runner-up honors.

Ironwood junior Jared Joki dominated that race in 17:09, followed by St. Ignace’s Brad Gustafson (18:18) and Andrew Sjogren (18:23), Norway’s Justin Anderson (18:45) and St. Ignace’s Jacob Sjogren (18:46).

Manistique senior Robert Ayotte took 21st (20:27).