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Hematites join Miners: Negaunee takes 9th straight Mid-Peninsula Conference girls track & field title, Ishpeming wins close boys meet

Westwood's Tessa Leece runs ahead of Ishpeming's Kayla Koski for the lead in the girls' 800-meter run during the Mid-Peninsula Conference high school track and field meet held at Gwinn High School on Thursday. Leece won the event and Koski was second. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)

GWINN — The Negaunee girls maintained their stranglehold on the Mid-Peninsula Conference track title Thursday, scoring 162 points.

Negaunee, crowned champion for the ninth consecutive year, doubled up the 81-point total of runner-up as Ishpeming was third with 76.

“I was very happy with our performance,” Negaunee coach Vickie Paupore said. “Our long jump surprised me. We also had one girl (Talon Prusi) go under 6 minutes in the 1,600(-meter run) for the first time and Abbie Tollefson had an excellent showing in discus.”

In a much closer boys meet, the Hematites won with 115 points, followed by Negaunee with 101 and Westwood with 94 1/2.

“We’ve been running strong,” third-year Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett said. “We made a few changes before the (Upper Peninsula Division 2) regional and they’re working. The guys are focused. They were quiet on the bus coming here.

Carter Adams of Negaunee clears a hurdle as Iron Mountain's Evan Geronomi trails closely during a heat of the boys' 300-meter intermediate hurdles during the Mid-Peninsula Conference high school track and field meet held at Gwinn High School on Thursday. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)

“We went up against three good (U.P. Division) 1 teams and came out on top. This is the biggest victory in my coaching career. We can’t ask to be in a better position going into the U.P. Finals. We weren’t perfect, but got good results.”

Negaunee sophomore Emily Paupore won the girls’ 1,600 in 5 minutes, 22.23 seconds, the 3200 in 11:40.03 and helped the winning 3,200 relay (10:41.88) on a warm and humid day at Gwinn’s McCormick Field.

“You’re so focused on the (U.P.) Finals, which makes it hard to get up for the M-PCs,” said Emily Paupore, who indicated she was disappointed in her 3,200 time. “We had some hard practices this week. I wanted to run solid races, but didn’t want to burn myself out. I’m trying to keep my head up and stay positive.”

Senior teammate Clara Johnson, also part of the 3,200 relay, was runner-up in the 1,600 in 5:36.74 and 3,200 in 12:32.9 with Prusi third in the 1600 in 5:52.54.

Sophomore Chloe Norman added firsts in the 300 hurdles in 48.31 and long jump at 15 feet, 3 inches, beside helping the winning relay, and Tollefson was runner-up in the discus with a personal-best throw of 102-5.

“Emily and Clara have been steady all year,” Coach Paupore said. “Our seniors have been fantastic leaders and role models all season and Chloe ran a season-best in the 300s.”

Manistique junior Ashley McDonald had every reason to smile after taking pole vault with a personal-best clearance of 9-feet, 1 1/2 feet higher than in the U.P. Division 2 regional at her home track last Friday.

“I held the pole about a foot higher and changed my steps,” said McDonald, who also anchored the winning 1,600 relay (4:29.7). “My confidence had been down since the regional, then I had a real good practice Wednesday and that gave me some confidence coming into today’s meet.”

McDonald was also runner-up in the 400 in 1:04.46 and anchored the second-place 800 relay, clocked at a season-best 1:57.94.

“We had probably our best handoffs all year in the 800 relay,” she added.

Emeralds’ coach Dylan Jaskolski said he was generally pleased with the team’s effort.

“Today we’re taking our lumps, but the girls are doing OK,” he added. “We had some good performances. Both teams (boys and girls) are running well. We have a good system in place and been getting good results.”

Iron Mountain’s Olivia Berutti won the 100 hurdles (16.97) and 200 dash (28.27) and helped the winning 400 relay (53.2).

Westwood’s Tessa Leese was a double-winner, taking the 800 in 2:33.37 and high jump by clearing 5-feet.

Senior Saige Sisson was Gladstone’s high finisher, placing second in shot put (32-9).

The Ishpeming boys had a double-winner in Logan Kruhlik, who captured shot put with a heave of 41-4 3/4 and discus with a throw of 121-9 1/2.

Manistique sophomore Schyler Andersen was runner-up in the shot with a personal-best toss of 41-4 and disc with 114-3.

Senior Darin Johnson provided Gladstone with its lone first in the long jump (20-1 1/4).

“That was a good jump for Darin,” said Braves’ coach Gary Whitmer. “We’ve been hit with the flu bug. We had a lot of guys sick. We had to revamp our relays and hold some kids out of events. I’m glad it happened now and not at the (Division 1) Finals.”

Gladstone junior Adam Bruce didn’t run Thursday due to a strained calf muscle.

Negaunee senior Colton Yesney copped the 1,600 in 4:32.54 and 3,200 ini 10:17.68, placed second in the 800 in 2:06.97 and third in the 400 in 53.95.

“I wasn’t too worried about time,” he said. “I just ran for place. I ran four races and was a little tired in the end. It was very humid, but our coach (Kevin Bell) said you can’t let the conditions dictate what you do.”

Westwood’s Ethan Burke took the 100 in 11.82 and 400 in 52.01.

Iron Mountain’s Mike Kulas captured the 800 (2:00.66) and helped the winning 3,200 relay (8:39.05), while junior Charlie Gerhard copped the 100 hurdles (16.18) and 300s (41.81).