Redmen roll to peninsula Division 1 championship

KINGSFORD – After coming up short last two seasons at the Upper Peninsula Division 1 track championships, the Marquette Redmen got the job done this year.

The Redmen finished first overall with 131 points, 33 ahead of second place Kingsford, who beat out Marquette last season for first place.

“This has been a really good day,” Redmen head coach Kyle Detmers said. “I didn’t really believe that we were a frontrunner because it’s never going to finish like you were seeded. I think everybody came through and a couple of guys did better than how they were seeded.

“We were right on target to where I thought we would be. Lance (Rambo) had a great day.

“It was tough with the wind, but he ran a great mile (1600 meters) and looked really good in the 3200.

“Andrew (Banitt) also did a great job and so did Payton (Muljo). I’m really happy for them,” he added.

Marquette won all four relay events, but the 400 relay was a close one as Redmen anchor Brett Place was able to edge out Kingsford by one hundredths of a second to help earn the sweep.

“That was a little too close,” Place said. “I didn’t expect it to be that way considering how we’ve been this whole year, but I knew that they (Kingsford) were going to be a fast team.

“I think I got him because I’ve got a little bit longer stride and how I leaned, I think I got him by about six inches.”

The Redmen also had three individual champions. Rambo was the Redmen’s leader as he won the 1600- meter run with a time of 4:28.84, almost 10 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. He also set a U.P. record in the 3200 run with a time of 9:50.03, more than 30 seconds ahead of second place.

“I’ve been running well all year, but I knew my competition was really good and they’re all great guys,” he said. “I just wanted to run for my team and score points.

“I think I did well, but I was really just going out for them. I think we really exceeded our expectations today.”

The other two Redmen title holders were Banitt, who took the 400 dash and the 800 run, and Muljo, who won the shot put on the final throw.

Negaunee finished sixth place overall with 47 points, two behind fifth place Escanaba.

The Miners were led by seniors Jason Bell, who won the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, and Connor Hetrick who claimed the 200 dash and finished second in the 100 dash, one hundredth of a second behind Trevor Roberts of Kingsford.

“I think today went pretty well,” Miners head coach Kevin Bell said. “Jason set a record for us in the 300 hurdles and Connor also did very well.

“Hunter (Ridley) was also a nice surprise. He ended up placing in the discus for us and he has definitely improved, as he had never run track before. Our individuals really shined today.”

Jason Bell and Hetrick were both glad to end their careers with an individual title and both will be running in college, Bell at Michigan Tech and Hetrick at Ferris State.

“It feels good to go out this way,” Bell said. “The hurdles were a personal thing for me because I won them both last year, so I really wanted to defend the title.”

“I just graduated (Friday), so to have a great day here feels really good,” Hetrick said.

“Coach Bell did a great job putting up with me all these years and I just feel blessed to have the opportunity.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.