HOUGHTON - The Houghton boys track team's goal for the season is a top-3 finish among U.P. Division 1 schools.
Wednesday, at the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex indoor meet, the Gremlins spent most of the time finishing first.
The Houghton boys won seven of the 12 events in the unscored event in preparation for the coming outdoor track season. It was the second event of the indoor season for the Gremlins and an excellent warm-up for their final indoor competition at the Superior Dome in Marquette next Tuesday.
Superior Central’s Lauren Spranger, races in the 400-meter dash at the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex indoor track meet on?Wednesday. Spranger crossed the finish line in 1:01.19 to win the event. Teammate Teslyn Tyner won the 200 in 27.93 seconds. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Michael Bleach)
"We treat it as a workout and a competitive situation," Houghton boys' coach Dan Junttila said. "We want them to push themselves, because some of our players push themselves too hard and they need to learn where that (line) is."
The meet at the Superior Dome will give Houghton a better idea of where it currently stands and where it needs to improve.
Junttila is specifically looking forward to some competition with the Marquette, whose girls team came to Tech Wednesday, but boys squad did not.
The Redettes won three individual events and the 1,600-meter relay in 4 minutes, 25.85 seconds with the team of Kathleen Noblet, Hunter Viitala, Shayla Heubner and Jessica Fluette.
Fluette also won the 1,600 run in 5:40, Heubner won the 800 in 2:32.79 and Kristen Iwanski won the shot put with a throw of 32 feet, 3 inches.
"We want to continue to be one of the top teams in the area for sure, and we are hoping to move up to a top-3 finish in Division 1," Junttila said. "Division I is so tough - we took fifth last year - and a realistic goal would to get in the top three by the end of the season. And that is lofty with Escanaba and Marquette and all the other big schools."
If the Gremlins are going to make the jump to a top-3 U.P. boys program, it will come on the strength of their field and distance performers. Kyle Mattson won the discus toss with a throw of 119 feet and Damion Johnson took home the shot put title with a heave of 45 feet, nine inches. Sophomore Connor Hannon won the pole vault, clearing 10 feet and six inches, a personal high.
Houghton swept the shot put as well, with Chuck Knuckles and Kyle Hayryen taking second and third.
"We are really strong in the field events, the shot and the disc," Junttila said. "I think we dominated that today. ... Our young pole-vaulting group is surprisingly strong. We have the coaches from Tech volunteering and helping them out, and three kids set personal bests today."
In distance, it is freshman Jake Colling that Junttila is excited to see develop.
Colling won the mile race Wednesday with a 4:56 time - all the more impressive on the short track - and took third in the 800-meter race.
"I think I had one of the best races of my life today, it was really strong," Colling said.