Esky girls secure runner-up in D-1

KINGSFORD – Everything went about as well as hoped for the Escanaba girls Saturday as they brought home the runner-up trophy from the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Track Finals.

Marquette, as expected, won for the fourth consecutive year with 145 points. Esky finished with 86 and third-place Negaunee had 71.

“We had a pretty good day,” said Esky coach Dan DeLong. “We didn’t have any letdowns at all. Marquette won by a lot, although some of their girls didn’t run as well as seeded. They were just too strong.”

Marquette sophomore Lindsey Rudden became the first female athlete to break the five-minute barrier in the 1600-meter run at the U.P. Finals. She was clocked at four minutes, 55.28 seconds and followed by freshman teammate Amber Huebner (5:15.25) and Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister (5:17.66) on this sunny and hot day at Flivver Field.

“At the beginning of the season, this was my goal,” she said. “I had a cheering section here and wanted to do something extraordinary. I can’t thank my parents, teammates and coaches enough. I just feel blessed to have this opportunity and be able to do it.”

Rudden’s effort not only topped her own record (5:05.5) from a year ago, it also beat the all-time U.P. record (5:00.1 in Class A-B) by Krista O’Dell of Escanaba in 2000.

“That was a phenomenal effort on Lindsey’s part,” said Gladstone coach Jim Murtha. “She was watching that (scoreboard) clock on the last lap. She looked up and knew she had a shot and just kicked it into a higher gear.”

Senior Lynsey Collins paced the Eskymos, anchoring the winning sprint relays and taking second in the 300 hurdles (47.74). Marquette junior Hunter Viitala won that race in a school-record 46.27.

In the 800 relay, Collins held off a late charge by Calumet junior Chelsea Jacques. The Eskymos were clocked at 51.86, just .01 second ahead of the Copper Kings.

“We gambled a little with the sprint relays and told Lynsey to make sure she leaned at the end because Jacques was about the only one who had a chance to run Lynsey down,” said DeLong. “Lynsey was a little disappointed when she didn’t win the 300 hurdles, but she lost to a very good hurdler. They had beaten each other twice coming into this meet.”

Esky sophomore Sunny Martineau was runner-up in the 100 hurdles (17.2). Freshman Maddy Willis took second in the 400 (1:02.1) as did junior Brittany Levesque in long jump at 14 feet, 9 1/2 inches.

Senior Jade Hellin added thirds in shot put (32-1/2) and discus (99-0). Classmate Aalysiah Spencer was fourth in shot (30-4) and long jump (14-3/4).

“Sunny had a good day and Maddy had a real nice day as a freshman,” said DeLong. “Our field events really came up big. Brittany scratched on her first two jumps in the preliminaries and was pretty upset. Then, she pulled herself together and reached the finals. She was real happy with second and Aalysiah had a personal-best throw in shot. This is one of the hardest working teams I’ve had, and I appreciate the efforts of Kathy Cibula, John Prokos, Ryan Wender, Pat Gannon and Jim Boyle for all their help. This is the first year we jelled as a whole unit.”

Gladstone junior Jaime Snowaert gained her first U.P. pole vault title at 9-6, just two inches short of the school record, and freshman Leigha Woelffer placed fourth in the 1600 (5:49.73) and 3200 (12:46.45).

“Jaime had an awesome day and Lydia Froberg had her best jump of the year (7-6),” said Murtha. “Hailey Bedard got over 30 feet (30-3 1/4) in shot, which is kind of a milestone for her. All of our events went very well. All three of our relays ran their best times of the year and Leigh had a good day. Overall, we had a good season. We hope the kids who were at the U.P. Finals can share their experiences with other kids.”

In D-2, St. Ignace edged defending champion West Iron County 116-107 for the title. Third-place Newberry scored 75 points, with Manistique fourth at 63.

Manistique sophomore Holly Blowers defended her 800 title (2:31.29), followed by Newberry sophomores Natalie Beaulieu (2:31.55) and Bridget Stoetzer (2:31.62) and Westwood sophomore Katie Etelamaki (2:35.56).

“This is my last day as an Emerald,” said Blowers, who plans to move to Marquette with her family this summer. “After winning this race last year, I wanted to do it again. Natalie, Bridget and Katie really pushed me. I’m going to miss running with them a lot. They’re great runners and quality people.”

Blowers also won the 1600 in a school-record 5:26.3 and placed third in the 400 in a personal-best 1:02.4.

“I had been sick much of this season,” said Blowers. “I’m just happy to make my parents, brother and sister proud. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my family.”

The Emeralds grabbed four places in pole vault, with senior Elisa MacGregor leading the way in second at eight feet.