GNC: Can Redettes be stopped?

ESCANABA – For the past seven years, the Marquette girls have maintained a stranglehold on the Great Northern Conference track title.

Can anybody stop the Redettes from taking their eighth straight title?

If Friday’s Division 1 regional results are any indication, that will be a difficult task.

The Redettes dominated on their home track by scoring 83 1/2 points, with Escanaba runner-up at 37.

“They (Marquette) have some athletes, that’s for sure,” said Esky coach Dan DeLong. “They’re definitely loaded. They’re probably one of the better teams I’ve seen. They have a bunch of superstars on that team.”

The Gladstone boys, who were runners-up to Marquette (50-47) in the regional, head to Menominee as defending league champs.

“It was an exciting meet,” Gladstone boys’ coach Gary Whitmer said of the regional. “The kids did well. We had a bad handoff in the 400-meter relay, but those things happen. Thank goodness our guys made it in. I think this gives our kids confidence, knowing that we have a shot at this thing.”

The meet, which starts with the field events at 4:30 p.m. (EDT), also includes Kingsford and Stephenson. Running events begin at 5:15.

Marquette sophomore Lindsey Rudden set a meet record in the 1600-meter run a year ago in five minutes, 10.65 seconds, then added another record in the 800 (2:20).

In the regional, Rudden won the 400 (1:01.19), 800 (2:23.97) and 1600 (5:10.04) and helped the winning 1600 relay.

Her main competitors are freshman teammate Amber Huebner and Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister, who won the 3200 last week in 11:42.76, edging Huebner by .07 second.

The Redettes are also led by juniors Kirsten Iwanski (weight events) and Hunter Viitala (hurdles and high jump).

Esky’s leaders are seniors Lynsey Collins (sprints and 300 hurdles) and Jade Heliin (weight events) and sophomore Sunny Martineau (hurdles).

“For us, it’s kind of a David vs. Goliath match-up with Marquette,” said DeLong. “We stayed pretty close with them at Negaunee, then they broke away in the end. There’s not much help we can get from other teams. Marquette is going to get their points. We can break them up in the high jump if we have a good day and Jade can win disc. It’s just a matter of Jade getting her mechanics and confidence back. We know Menominee and Gladstone have some good athletes and Kingsford definitely brings some speed, but we don’t know much about Stephenson.”

Gladstone’s leaders are freshman Leigha Woelffer (distance), junior Jaime Snowaert (pole vault) and senior Hailey Bedard (shot put).

“I thought we had a nice showing at the regionals,” said Gladstone coach Jim Murtha. “The girls gave a good effort. Leigha had a great day and our field events did all right. We have the big three (Marquette, Esky and Menominee) from the regional. They are tough and Marquette is very strong. That’s who everybody is chasing. They (Marquette) set the bar high.”

Others to watch are Esky’s Kelcey Geyer and Aalysiah Spencer (weight events), Marquette’s Izzy Peterson and Liz Slagle (sprints), Kingsford’s Hannah Allen (300 hurdles), Stephenson’s Breanna Martin (pole vault) and Menominee’s Paiton Plutchak (100 hurdles) and Allia Stewart (long jump).

The Gladstone boys are led by seniors Chris Sedenquist and Riley Ballard (sprints), Cody Malanowski (weight events) and Jacob Rosa (pole vault).

Points again will be distributed through sixth place in the GNC meet compared to four in the regionals.

“Looking at last year’s results, the extra places really helped us,” said Whitmer. “I think it can work to our advantage again this year. We had a couple fifths in the regional and our pole vaulters are finally coming on. We haven’t seen Kingsford since the Dome (on April 15). They had some pretty rough conditions in their regional (Thursday at Negaunee). They definitely had worse conditions than we did. It was a little cool for us, but it really wasn’t too bad. It will be nice to see Kingsford before the Finals and Escanaba has some good kids who just missed qualifying. Looks like the weather is going to be good.”

Esky’s leaders are freshman Joey Wolfe and juniors Eric Cousineau (distance) and Bryan Kwarciany (pole vault) and seniors Jordan Ogren and Jake Walker (400).

Marquette is led by sophomore Lance Rambo and senior Cole Rieboldt (distance), Andrew Banitt (middle distance) and Kyle Dickinson (hurdles).

Others to watch are Kingsford’s Ryan Camp (pole vault), Cole Tengesdahl and Cole Moreau (sprints), Jake Allen (middle distance) and Jonah Carlson (discus), Stephenson’s Conner Cappaert (distance), Menominee’s Devon Harris and Justin Brilinski (sprints and long jump), Aeron Forsberg (sprints) and Austin Voracheck (long jump) and Gladstone’s Andrew Olesak (high jump and 300 hurdles).