Aim for perfection: Negaunee’s Emily Paupore, Houghton boys team just about achieve that at Foxes & Hounds cross country meet

Negaunee’s Emily Papoure approaches the finish line as the girls race winner at the Foxes & Hounds high school cross country meet held at Wawonowin Country Club in Champion on Tuesday afternoon. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

CHAMPION — Negaunee’s Emily Paupore crossed the finish line in first place for the girls while Houghton scored a perfect 15 points in the boys team meet at the Westwood Foxes & Hounds Invitational high school cross country meet held at the Wawonowin Country Club on Tuesday afternoon.

Negaunee and Sault Ste. Marie tied for first place in the girls meet with 33 points, followed by Chassell, Houghton and West Iron County. Westwood was seventh.

For the boys, Houghton dominated the competition its 1-2-3-4-5 finish, followed by Gogebic, Sault Ste. Marie and Negaunee. Westwood placed eighth.

Paupore crossed the line in 22 minutes, 10 seconds, a personal record.

“Emily (Paupore) is incredible,” Negaunee head coach Lisa Bigalk said. “She’s very dedicated, determined and it’s very exciting to watch her run.”

Westwood’s Tessa Leece finishes in 21st place at the Foxes & Hounds high school cross country meet held at Wawonowin Country Club in Champion on Tuesday afternoon. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

Asked about the open running course held on the golf course at Wawonowin, Paupore said that part of it was of little consequence to her, but the format of the meet made it fun.

“I don’t really care about the type of course, honestly,” she said. “It can be hilly or flat, it doesn’t matter to me. It was fun because I got to catch people right off the bat and it made my first mile faster.”

The “foxes & hound” term meant that runners went off in 20-second increments, with the slowest runners out of the gate first and the fastest runners last.

The Miners’ Clara Johnson was runner-up in the girls race in 22:48, followed by Sault Ste. Marie’s Kara Mosher, Chassell’s Lela Rautiola and Negaunee’s Natalie Bartle. Tessa Leece was the top finisher for Westwood in 21st.

For the boys, the Gremlins’ Clayton Sayen won in 18:44, followed by teammates Seth Helman, Connor Jackson, Nick Laux and Clayton Bulleit.

Houghton head coach Traci Welch said in her years of coaching several good teams, perfection like this was a first.

“I’ve been coaching for 18 years and I’ve never had a perfect score,” she said. “The depth that we have I think is what does it for us and I’m extremely pleased with how they ran.”

Sayen, crossing the line in a full sweat and with a bloody foot, said the perfect score left him in awe as he credited his teammates.

“That was an unreal moment,” he said. “After I finished I just said to myself ‘OK, I just won,’ and then it hit me that we had a chance for a perfect score. These guys are awesome, I love running with them and it’s a fun time every meet.”

Followed the Houghton quintet were Gogebic’s Tim Rowe and Adam Mazurek. Elliot Prusi was Negaunee’s top finisher in 16th, while Drew Dieterle was Westwood’s best in 36th.

Westwood head coach Eric Hill said his team is doing everything it can to prepare for Upper Peninsula Finals to be held in Munising on Saturday morning, Oct. 21.

“Our kids ran hard and they’re getting better every day,” Hill said. “We have a good attitude right now, we’re just looking for 2 1/2 weeks down the road here trying to prepare for U.P. Finals.”

As for the Miners, Bigalk added that improvement is necessary before the Mid-Peninsula Conference meet next week and the U.P. Finals.

“We definitely need to improve some more,” she said. “Some of the kids need some rest and we just need to keep working hard.”

Negaunee and Westwood travel to the Gladstone Invitational on Thursday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.