MARQUETTE - For the past few years, high school track and field athletes were almost disappointed when they had to come inside for the Superior Dome Division 3 meet.
On Thursday, however, they were nothing short of ecstatic to get out of the rain, near-freezing temperatures, not to mention snow drifts measured in the feet at many of their schools.
That was especially true for the Grand Marais and Munising Baptist cooperative team, whose athletes hadn't met before Thursday afternoon at the Superior Dome Division 3 meet in Marquette.
Baraga’s Shannon Fish competes in the 55 meter hurdles during the Superior Dome Division 3 track and field meet on Thursday inside the Superior Dome. She finished tied for fourth in the event. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"This is our first year as a (Michigan High School Athletic Association) registered team," said Anne Peramaki of Munising Baptist, who is the co-op team's head coach. "We have six athletes from our school and nine from Grand Marais."
Munising Baptist ran on its own in several high school meets last season, including the dome meet.
The schools are located about 40 miles apart and their co-op team, which could be called the Polar Bear Bobcats by combining their mascots, did a lot more than just show up, particularly in the girls meet.
GM-MB scored 25.5 points to finish in 11th, ahead of established schools like Munising, Ontonagon and Rapid River.
And the PBBs almost had a multi-event winner, something only accomplished by Jamie Dompier of Chassell, who won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes to score nearly all of her school's points. At the Upper Peninsula Finals in Kingsford last June, Dompier won the 100 and 200 and came in fourth in the 400.
Michaela Peramaki, who attends Munising Baptist, won the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 5.5 inches, 2.5 inches ahead of runner-up Tabitha Graham of Brimley.
Peramaki also finished second in the pole vault despite clearing the same 8-foot height as winner Kim Palo of Bark River-Harris. The tiebreaker used in the event is the fewest misses, which went to Palo.
Just for good measure, Peramaki also finished tied for fourth in the 100 in 13.93 seconds.
"It's fun to have a good number of athletes," Anne Peramaki said. "We have someone in just about every area, though the relays are hard for us to cover."
Alger County has been hit just about as hard by winter as any area in the Upper Peninsula, keeping GM-MB, Munising and meet host Superior Central inside most of the time and away from learning the intricacies of many events.
Anne Peramaki gets her team outdoors at its home in Wetmore, however.
"We train in all kinds of weather conditions," she said. "One day, we had a snowmobiler stop and ask us if we were the track team. I told him yes, and then he put on his helmet and took off again on his sled."
SC, which finished eighth in the girls meet with 32 points, had three runner-up finishes as junior Teslyn Tyner had a hand in every one of them.
She finished the 100 about a half-second behind Dompier, the 200 about 1.3 seconds behind the U.P. Finals star, and ran the anchor leg in the Cougars' runner-up 800 relay team that finished less than half a second behind Bark River-Harris.
Tyner also came in third in the long jump, just 4.5 inches behind Michaela Peramaki.
Shannon Fish starred for Baraga, tying for fourth in the 55 hurdles (10.01 seconds) and sixth in the high jump (4-8), while Kaitlyn Marsh topped Munising runners, coming in fifth in the 200 (29.47) and sixth in the 800 (2:52.17).
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.