Lucky number 7

Marquette girls notch 7th straight U.P. Division 1 track championship

Clara Johnson of Negaunee, left, and Delaney Sall of Marquette compete in the girls 800-meter run during the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals held at Kingsford High School on Saturday. (Journal photo by Shannon Stieg)

If we all performed like I knew we could and there were no surprises, I thought we could come out on top and we did.

— natalie messano, head coach, Marquette girls track and field

KINGSFORD — The Marquette Senior High School girls track and field team doesn’t look like it’s going to be stopped any time soon and it showed Saturday at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals.

For the seventh straight year, the Redettes took home the title by scoring 118 points. Based on Marquette’s performances in earlier meets, it was the favorite going in and Redettes head coach Natalie Messano felt that if everyone stayed healthy, another title would be coming home.

“There weren’t any big surprises for me,” she said. “They did what I knew they could do and they went out and did it. Everybody for the most part stayed healthy and the weather held out, thankfully, because that was my biggest concern.

“If we all performed like I knew we could and there were no surprises, I thought we would come out on top and we did, so I’m very happy right now.”

The key to Marquette’s championship was what it typically is and that is its runners. The Redettes won the two sprint relays, the 400 and 800, and had three individual sprinting champions.

MSHS’ Jacquie Cammarata won the 300 meter hurdles, while teammate Ahnicka Puskala took the 100 hurdles and Izzie Peterson finished first in the 100 dash.

Cammarata got off to a rough start as she stumbled out of the blocks, but she rallied and ended her career with a championship. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, she also won while being sick.

“I have mono(nucleosis) right now, so these last few races have been tough to run,” she said. “I really wanted to finish strong and I told myself to persevere through whatever was thrown at me.

“When I stumbled, I had to make up for it, so I just told myself it was a setback and moved through it. I really wanted to go out a champion and now I am one.”

Negaunee, the last team to win before the Marquette streak started, finished second with 91 points. While Marquette relied on its sprinters, the Miners used their endurance to find success as they won the 3,200 relay, while Clara Johnson swept all three long-distance events — the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.

“We came in feeling that we had a good shot at runner-up, and we’re going to finish that way,” Negaunee head coach Vickie Paupore said. “Clara and Emily (Paupore) did their part in the distance runs but we had other outstanding performances, too.

“Lynsee (Dempsey) came in second in the disc(us) after being ranked sixth. Emily (Nelson) was second in the pole vault and she ranked fourth. Those were big points for us and we needed those.

“We aren’t as strong in the sprints this year, so we needed them to step up and they did. I’m really proud of the effort that they put in.”

Johnson and Emily Paupore finished 1-2 in all three distance runs and their coach describes them as sisters. They may seem that way on the surface, but they are still competitive.

“We race hard against each other, but we also know that we’re on the same team,” Johnson said. “I always beat her, though.”

That last statement resulted in a gentle shove from her teammate.

“It’s fun to have someone to run with because not many people want to go do that,” Emily Paupore said. “These longer runs are relaxing and we can talk to each other during them.”

Kingsford, Sault Ste. Marie and Escanaba rounded out the top five of the 11-team meet with Westwood finishing 10th with 16 points.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal. net.