MUNISING - The Escanaba boys opened their cross country season on a positive note Tuesday, winning the Munising Invitational with 32 points.
Runner-up Menominee scored 59 and Gwinn placed third at 97.
Esky senior Andrew Stenberg won the hilly 3.1-mile race on the Valley Spur Cross Country Ski Trails in 17 minutes, 10 seconds.
"I really didn't expect my time to be that fast," said Stenberg. "I didn't look back. I figured somebody was right behind me the whole race."
Stenberg was followed by teammate Jordan Ogren (18:05), Stephenson's Conner Cappaert (18:18), Munising's Brett Hannah (18:27), Manistique's Tyler Pomeroy (18:28) and Esky's Eric Cousineau (18:33) on this sunny and mild day.
"The boys looked strong," said Esky assistant coach Jeff Wright. "At the mile, it didn't look like Andy was pushing it. He's in real good shape. This course is definitely a challenge. We figured Andy would run in the high 17s, but not the low 17s. Jordan also ran an excellent time and Eric did a nice job for a sophomore."
Menominee's Davey Luplow, who stayed with Stenberg for a mile, then faded and finished in 10th. "I went out too hard," said Luplow.
"I thought maybe we went out too hard, too," Stenberg added. "I figured Davey would be good by the way he started. I just didn't know what kind of shape he was in."
The Menominee girls grabbed the top three spots, winning with 25 points. They were followed by Esky 44 and Rudyard 103.
Kameron Burmeister was the individual winner (20:51), followed by Lily Johnson (21:16) and Autumn McClure (21:34) and Esky's Aubree Peterson (21:57) and Aimee Giese (22:05).
"It felt like I started out real fast and got a huge burst of energy at the mile mark," said Peterson. "Aimee and I pretty much ran together. It's great having Aimee as a running partner. We really push each other. I think we're going to have a good season.
"We have a good team this year and Menominee looks real strong. But if we keep a positive attitude, I think we can compete with them."
Wright said the Esky coaches were also pleased with the girls' performances.
"Aubree was right where we figured she'd be and Aimee ran excellent," he added. "Our girls are going to push each other this year. Menominee looked real good. They'll be tough to catch."
Manistique freshman Holly Blowers placed sixth (22:21) in her varsity debut.
"I started way too fast," said Blowers. "I didn't expect the hills to be that big. I ran my first mile in 5:44. I definitely learned something today. I need to pace myself better."
Josie Gardner was Gladstone's pacesetter on her 16th birthday, taking 17th (24:04).