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Back on top again: Marquette Redettes win 3rd Upper Peninsula high school cross country title in 5 years, Negaunee Miners’ Emily Paupore runs away with individual crown

Reegan Ketzenberger, right, leads Marquette teammate Lillian Weycher at the finish line as they finish in 12th and 13th places, respectively, during the Division 1 girls race at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals held Saturday at Gentz's Homestead Golf Course near Harvey. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

More inside:

• Redmen make it a Marquette sweep in Division 1. Page 3B

Rudyard boys, Chassell girls take Division 3 titles. Page 3B

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HARVEY — If the year ends in an odd number, chances are it’s going to be a successful one for the Marquette girls cross country team.

Emily Paupore of Negaunee wins the Division 1 girls race at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals held Saturday at Gentz's Homestead Golf Course near Harvey. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

It’s 2019, so naturally, the Redettes finished first with 66 points at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals on Saturday at Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course. It’s Marquette’s third title in five years, the other two coming in 2015 and 2017. Sault Ste. Marie won it in 2016 and 2018 and took third this year.

When asked about the Redettes’ luck during the odd years, MSHS coach Kyle Detmers said that anything can happen on race day and things just seemed to work out well for Marquette during those seasons.

“We always run hard every year, but it all comes down to one day,” he said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen today.

“If you’ve got a kid who’s sick or something, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. But this was a day where the good Lord smiled on us and we eked out a win.”

“Eke” was right as Kingsford was a close runner-up with 69 points.

The Redettes won on the strength of their depth with its five runners finishing in the top 25. Olivia Moffitt led the way for Marquette as she took sixth in 20 minutes, 50.1 seconds with Reegan Ketzenberger finishing 12th and Lillian Weycher right behind her in 13th.

“We had a couple girls really shine and really ran their best race of the year,” Detmers said. “We were led by Olivia and she’s been consistent. Lillian has been coming on and she came up and was up in front for us.

“But we had two injured runners (Josie Danielkiewicz and Ericka Asmus) that we ran, they’re traditionally our Nos. 1 and 2, but they ended up our 4 and 5. That was the difference, having them back in. A three-point difference between us and Kingsford.”

The team race may have been up for grabs at the start of the day, but it was no surprise who ended up being the individual champion as Negaunee’s Emily Paupore won it for the third year in a row with this year being her best time in 19:18.7.

“This one means a lot more to me,” Paupore said with a big smile, while also fighting back tears. “I’ve been thinking about it all season. It was just really special to cross the finish line one last time and have the whole community around me and supporting me. It just meant a lot more this year to me.

“In the past years, I put a lot more pressure on myself and this year, I’m just trying to have fun and enjoy my last season. So it was a lot different. I’ve been running better that way. Just running and just having a good time. Having fun and enjoying every last moment I get. I just love cross country and it has such a special place in my heart.”

Paupore recently competed in a large meet downstate where she finished ninth out of 249 runners and said she set her personal best time (18:31.1) against some of the best runners in the state.

After winning three straight U.P. cross country titles, she’s naturally set the bar high for herself for outdoor track and field season this spring as she’s won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs the past two years.

“I definitely want to break the two-mile record at U.P. Finals again (she did that in 2018),” Paupore said. “I want to get under 11 (minutes). That’s a big goal for me and it always has been. Just run maybe mid-10s. I’m really excited for it.”

Emily’s mother, Vickie Paupore, who is the Miners’ girls track and field coach, was proud of her daughter and what she’s accomplished over the past three years.

“You watch your child grow over the years and I’ve watched her work so hard,” Vickie Paupore said. “She really wanted to do well today and cross country has a special place in her heart. She just loves it. Just watching her run the whole race, I was emotionally choked up and I still am. She’s a hard-working kid and I’m super proud of her (as a) mom.”

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