Ishpeming boys win 6th straight Larissa Vartti Memorial Invitational cross country meet in Munising

MUNISING — The Ishpeming boys opened their high school cross country season by capturing their sixth straight Larissa Vartti Memorial Invitational title at the Valley Spur Cross Country Trails in Munising on a sunny, warm and humid day Tuesday afternoon.

They placed five in the top nine, including race winner Jonah Broberg, to score just 25 points to 89 for Cheboygan, 125 for Norway and 128 for fourth-place Westwood. Newberry was sixth with 153, Manistique seventh with 156 and Superior Central 11th with 263.

“The kids are working hard and doing pretty well,” said Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett. “Jonah had a good year in track and hopefully that will turn over in cross country. I’m really pleased. We’ve had to fill Spencer’s (Giroux) shoes, but we’ve been working on it.”

Broberg clocked a winning time of 18 minutes, 3 seconds, followed by Norway’s Adam Cavagnetto in 18:09, Ishpeming’s Jordan Longtine third in 18:20, teammate Joey King fourth in 18:33 and Newberry junior Ephram Evans fifth in 18:48.

“I think we did all right for the opener, but we definitely have to improve,” Evans said. “We have a young team and we’re looking to build.

“It got pretty warm out there, but if you’re in the right mindset the heat is not a factor. Conditioning also plays a role. The better shape you’re in, the better you can handle it. This is a good course for the season-opener. It makes you work hard.”

Derek Douglas was Esky’s pacesetter in sixth (18:52), with the Hematites’ Silas Broberg eighth in 19:06 and David Liimatta ninth in 19:22.

Westwood was led by Jake Jerhla in 16th in 20:49, while senior Alex Misniakiewicz paced Manistique in 17th in 21:17.

In the girls meet, Kingsford junior Melanie Wenzel enjoyed a shining moment in her cross country debut, helping the Flivvers girls earn top honors with 38 points, just edging out Westwood with 42.

Wenzel prevailed on the hilly 3.1-mile course in 21:52.

“It was fun,” said Wenzel, who grabbed the lead at the halfway point. “I started a little slow, then I picked up the pace. I took the lead on top of the big hill.

“I didn’t think I was in the lead at first, but I gained confidence through the remainder of the race. All the runners pushed me.”

The Flivvers placed four runners in the top 10, while the Patriots had three in the top seven. Ishpeming was third with 103, while Stephenson had 126 and Escanaba 130. SC was sixth with 142, Munising ninth with 190, Manistique 10th with 194 and Newberry 11th with 201.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be a solid team,” Kingsford coach Dan Carey said. “Only we have to stay healthy. We were missing a few girls, but we have a nice mix this year. We’re looking forward to future races. It builds a little enthusiasm when you start strong.”

Westwood’s Elizabeth Williams was girls’ runner-up in 22:20, followed by SC senior Danika Walters (22:50), Ishpeming’s Taylor Longtine (23:10) and Kingsford’s Sarah Kulas (23:27).

“It was a tough race,” said Walters, who has an asthmatic condition. “According to the new rules, we can’t have an inhaler. I also had my wisdom teeth removed (Aug. 6) and haven’t been able to run. Until then I was doing 40 miles a week.

“I did some cross training in the past couple weeks, but still need to work on conditioning.”

The Patriots’ Tessa Leece was sixth in 23:36 and Hannah Mattila seventh in 23:39. Ishpeming’s Abby Racine was eighth in 24:06, with Munising being paced by Hattie Cota in 16th in 26:03 and Manistique by Clara Gilroy in 20th in 26:38.