ESCANABA - The situation in today's MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Track and Field Finals is one area girls' teams are well familiar with.
They'll be chasing Marquette, which is shooting for its fourth straight title.
Marquette dominated its own regional on May 16 with 83 1/2 points. Runner-up Escanaba scored 37.
Marquette Senior High School sophomore Lindsey Rudden, pictured left during the MHSAA Division 1 track and field regional on May 16 at MSHS, enters today’s MHSAA U.P. Track and Field Finals in Kingsford as the current U.P. Finals record holder in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. (Journal file photo by Elizabeth Bailey)
Sophomore Lindsey Rudden collected four firsts for Marquette in last year's Finals, setting U.P. records in the 800-meter run in 2 minutes, 16.46 seconds, the 1,600 (5:05.5) and 3,200 (11:26.13).
In this year's regional, she won the 400 (1:01.19), 800 (2:23.97) and 1,600 (5:10.04) and helped the winning 1,600 relay.
"Marquette is obviously the heavy favorite," said Esky coach Dan DeLong. "Realistically, it's going to be a pretty tight race for the runner-up trophy with us, Negaunee and Menominee. Negaunee is a pretty well-rounded team."
Negaunee won its regional with 79 points, with Calumet runner-up at 43.
"It seems like Negaunee qualified a lot of people," said Gladstone coach Jim Murtha. "Times from their regional are misleading. They sprinted into the wind, which is the only way they can run them. I think it will be a good battle for second between Negaunee and Escanaba. Marquette is deep and has great athletes. They're tough to beat. Marquette is going to score a lot of points. They're well covered."
The Gladstone boys head in as defending champs.
In the regional, the Braves were runners-up to host Marquette by three points (50-47) and third in the GNC.
Kingsford dominated the conference meet with 180 points, followed by Marquette 87 1/2 and the Braves 83 1/2
"Things didn't go all that well for us in the GNC meet," said Braves' coach Gary Whitmer. "We didn't run our U.P. Finals team in the 1,600 relay. We just threw some kids in there. Kingsford had two nice pole vaulters, but only one qualified for the Finals. It's going to be more competitive on Saturday."
Kingsford senior Ryan Camp set a school-record while winning pole vault at 14-2 and classmate Jake Allen won the 800 (2:01.74) at Menominee.
Gladstone senior Chris Sedenquist won the 400 in a school-best 51.1 and Allen was runner-up. Sedenquist will be on hand today to defend his 400 title.
"Kingsford has four in the 800 (for Finals)," said Whitmer. "They're definitely a good team. They're the favorites, but we still have to run the meet. Marquette has a nice team. Their distances are always strong. I think the teams vying for the title are Kingsford, Marquette and Gladstone."
Kingsford won the regional at Negaunee with 80 points, followed by the host Miners 56.
Esky junior Eric Cousineau is defending 3,200 champ, but freshman Joey Wolfe has been the frontrunner in the distances for the Eskymos this year.
Also in the mix is Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Parker Scott, Marquette sophomore Lance Rambo and his senior teammate Cole Rieboldt.