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Prep cross country: Negaunee boys, girls race to Mid-Peninsula Conference titles

October 11, 2013
By BURT ANGELI , Iron Mountain Daily News

NORWAY - Negaunee's girls, a dynasty when it comes to Mid-Peninsula Conference cross country, added a fifth-straight league title Thursday at Strawberry Lake Park in Norway.

Negaunee's boys may be ready follow the girls to great heights.

"The girls did very well," Negaunee Coach Lisa Bigalk said. "We also had individual goals and most of them were met.

Article Photos

Norway’s Justin Anderson was an early leader over Negaunee’s Grant Johnson (left) and Keenan Gantz at the Mid-Peninsula Conference cross country meet Thursday at Norway’s Strawberry Lake Park. Johnson wound up holding off Gantz for the title.
(Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Burt Angeli)

"They did what they needed to win the meet. That was most important."

The Miners girls registered 39 points to best Westwood, 70; Norway, 75; Ishpeming, 76, and Manistique, 91.

Negaunee's boys, with sophomore Grant Johnson and senior Keenan Gantz running one-two, chalked up 19 points in dominating the field. Runner-up Ishpeming posted 70 points, followed by Gwinn, 78; Norway, 108, and Westwood, 115.

Fact Box

Mid-Peninsula Conference Meet


Standings - Negaunee 39, Westwood 70, Norway 75, Ishpeming 76, Manistique 91.

Medalists - 1. Holly Blowers, M, 20:39; 2. Kyra Johnson, Nor, 20:46; 3. Wyleen Kniola, Neg, 21:33; 4. Melanie Kniola, Neg, 22:19; 5. Anni Bjork, Ww, 22:28; 6. Freddi Gjerrild, Neg, 22:52; 7. Alexis Kallenbach, Nor, 22:57; 8. Olivia Holmberger, Man, 23:03; 9. Khora Swanson, I, 23:14; 10. Sarah Bietila, Nor, 23:19; 11. Rachel Ring, Neg, 23:52; 12. Gabi French, Ww, 23:57; 13. Amber Gransinger, Ww, 25:30; 14. Lena Groger, I, 25:47; 15. Hailey Fezatt, Neg, 25:52.


Standings - Negaunee 19, Ishpeming 70, Gwinn 78, Norway 108, Westwood 15.

Medalists - 1. Grant Johnson, Neg, 17:56; 2. Keenan Gantz, Neg, 17:59; 3. Justin Anderson, Nor, 18:38; 4. Mark Anderson, Neg, 18:42; 5. Ethan Wallner, Neg, 18:46; 6. Alex Anderson, Gw, 18:52; 7. Zach Carlson, Neg, 18:55; 8. Skyler Dakota, Ww, 18:59; 9. Kadin Fox, Neg, 19:06; 10. Kaz Langness, I, 19:10; 11. Robert Ayotte, Man, 19:20; 12. Mark Holmgren, Ish, 19:22; 13. Ryan Hunt, Ww, 19:23; 14. Luke Redlon, Gw, 19:30; 15. Aidan Anderson, Gw, 19:31.

"I think we were expected to win, but sometimes you put a target on your back," Bigalk said. "They really performed above and beyond.

"Some of them really stepped it up."

Six Negaunee boys placed in the top 10, with just the top five counted for the team score. In addition to Johnson and Gantz, Mark Anderson took fourth; Ethan Wallner, fifth; Zach Carlson, seventh, and Kapin Fox, ninth.

"In my four years this is our best team," Ganzt said. "We have a lot of strong freshmen and Grant is a real good runner.

"The freshmen are really making this team. This is the best freshmen class we've had in a long time."

Wyleen Kniola, two-time defending MPC champ, led the Negaunee girls with a third (21:33). Melanie Kniola (fourth), Freddi Gjerrild (sixth) and Rachel Ring (11th) also medaled.

Manistique sophomore Holly Blowers led from start to finish, notching a personal best time of 20 minutes, 39 seconds, over the 3.1-mile course.

"I wanted to get a good start and get a good distance from everybody," Blowers said. "I wasn't expecting a PR today. I haven't been practicing and I was really surprised with my performance."

Conflicts with volleyball have limited her cross country workouts. This was her final event of the season with a cousin's wedding in Hawaii nixing her participation in the U.P. Finals on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Marquette.

"I was pretty happy altogether," said Blowers, who finished third last year. "This is probably one of my favorite courses. I was expecting something different because I've never run here before, but I've heard stories about it's really hilly. There was one big hill, but it evened out by going downhill."



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