Westwood carts off boys title at West PAC track meet

HOUGHTON — The Houghton girls got scoring from many sources on a most cloudy and chilly Wednesday afternoon, earning the West PAC Conference track title with 133 points. They were followed by Negaunee with 107 and Westwood 97.

“This was just a great team performance,” Houghton assistant coach Bill Fezzey said. “Our strength has been our depth. We keep pecking away with thirds and fourths and today our fifths and sixths helped.”

The Westwood boys captured their first West PAC championship with 151 points, followed by Ishpeming with 109 and Calumet 85.

Houghton senior Anabel Needham led the Houghton girls, taking the 1,600-meter run in a season-best 5 minutes, 25.13 seconds and 3,200 (12:14.56) and achoring the winning 3,200 relay (10:49.62) on the Gremlins’ new rubberized eight-lane facility.

“That was my second-best 1,600 ever,” said Needham, who plans to run cross country at Michigan Tech this fall. “I’m very happy with that. I’m really enjoying our new track. Before this year I hadn’t run in a home meet since eighth grade. It was nice to be able to enjoy it in my senior year.”

The Gremlins placed three in the 1,600 and 3,200. Ingrid Seagren took second in the 3,200 (12;37.24) and third in the 1,600 (5:46.28). Freshman Maria Valet was fourth in the 3,200 (13:28.63) and Mikayla Sague was sixth in the 1,600 (6:17.6).

Seagren and Velat were also part of the 3,200 relay.

“Anabel has been solid all year and we had a sophomore who stood out in shot put and discus (Lillian Williston),” said Fezzey. “Lily Baker is doing a nice job for us and Steve Dunstan is one of the premiere pole vault coaches in the U.P. He does a great job with our kids.”

Baker provided the Gremlins with a first in pole vault at nine feet.

“It was a challenging day for vaulting, but I just tried to block everything out,” Baker said shortly after missing on three attempts at the school record (9-4). “I’ve cleared 9-1 before. We had the wind on our back and it’s usually better that way. It’s really nice to vault with our new runway. It just makes for better footing.”

Negaunee junior Chloe Norman won four events, taking the 300 hurdles (46.88), 100s (17.25), high jump (4-8) and long jump (16-5).

“My starts felt pretty good,” she said. “I knew I had to go out fast in the back stretch because we were going into the wind in the home stretch. I spent pretty much the whole meet trying to stay warm. This new track is super nice. The high jump and long jump runways were real good. I enjoy running here.”

Gwinn senior Emily Curtice also had a hand in three firsts, winning the 100 (13.62), 200 (27.91) and anchoring the winning 400 relay (53.83).

“In the beginning it was real cold,” Curtice said. “Then we had a chance to get warmed up and after a while it wasn’t too bad. My starts felt better than they did on Monday (in the Mid-Peninsula Conference meet at Ishpeming). Our relays have been doing real good this year.”

Westwood’s Tessa Leece was a double winner, taking the 400 (1:04.07) and 800 (2:38.98).

Gwinn’s Marissa Delmont uncorked a toss of 38-10 1/2 in shot put and Negaunee’s Abbie Tollefson captured discus (115-7).

For the boys, Westwood senior Nathan Beckman collected firsts in the 100 (11.87) and 200 (23.75) and anchored the winning 400 (46.07) and 800 relay (1:36.16).

“Nathan is a very solid athlete and I think our team starts with his leadership,” Westwood coach Scott Syrjala said. “We’re also getting great senior leadership from Sam Gilles and we have a real solid junior group. Hunter Perry did a nice job for us, taking fifth in 100 and 200. Our kids ran hard on Monday and they ran hard again today. Our girls also did well.”

Westwood’s Jack Boase captured the 110 hurdles (16.68) and 300s (42.82). Blake Hewitt added a first in shot put (43-10) and Chad Pohlman took the 400 (53.73)

Junior Jonah Broberg provided Ishpeming with firsts in the 800 (2:10.28), 1,600 (4:48.81) and 3,200 (10:24.97).

“I’ve adjusted my breathing and didn’t have one cramp all year,” Broberg said. “If you get boxed in, you have to stay calm and maintain your breathing. It’s just a matter of staying in rhythm. Last year, I didn’t do as well with that.”

The Hematites indeed showed their dominance in the distances, taking the top three spots in the 800 and 1,600 and grabbing four places in the 3,200.

“Ishpeming has a real strong distance team,” Syrjala said. “P.J. (coach Pruett) does a great job with them.”

Negaunee’s Tyler Hintsala took high jump (5-8) and long jump (17-8) and Ishpeming’s Logan Kruhlik copped discus (122-4) and was runner-up in shot by a quarter-inch.

Austin Salani provided Hancock with its lone first in pole vault at 13 feet.

“This has been a rebuilding year for us,” said Houghton coach Dan Junttila. “We have some good seniors who have helped us a lot. We have 51 boys on our team. The future looks bright. Ishpeming and Westwood are just so strong this year which speaks well for the West PAC.”