Get your feet wet: Area cross country runners get back into competition at Presque Isle on Friday
MARQUETTE — It’s been an eventful offseason for Upper Peninsula cross country teams as many have wondered if there would even be a season this fall.
Still, many tried to stay in shape during this unpredictable spring and summer, and on Friday those squads got to finally see some competition at the Marquette Early Bird Meet at Presque Isle Park.
The Marquette boys tasted plenty of success as they four of their runners finished in the top five with Carson VanderSchaaf taking the top spot with in 17 minutes, 48 seconds.
Following closely behind was Gladstone’s Drew Hughes as runner-up in 17:52 and the Redmen’s Colin VanderSchaaf third in 17:54. Rounding out the top five was MSHS’ Truman Langlois in 18:07 and Luke Janofski in 18:10. Team scores were not kept.
“That was the big thing, we got a meet in,” Marquette head coach Kyle Detmers said. “Everybody complied pretty much (with coronavirus requirements) for the most part and I’m just thankful just for getting the meet in for the kids.
“We missed track (in the spring) and these are distance runners, so they didn’t have a track season. So (it was) just to get them out competing again and some sort of normalcy. Something normal in their life. So that’s what we wanted from this.
“It’s so funny with this whole COVID thing. It’s changed my perspective. I’m still competitive, but it’s just so important for us as a community, too, to have this event for the kids’ mental health, too.”
In the girls meet, Ishpeming’s Lola Korpi blew past the rest of the field with a first-place time of 20:19. Marquette’s Olivia Moffitt was more than a minute behind as runner-up in 21:42, while Westwood’s Heidi Maglathery was a relatively close third in 21:49.
Hematites head coach P.J. Pruett praised Korpi’s performance, and like Detmers, he said the day was all about getting back to normal.
“This is the hardest year that I’ve coached in seven years because these kids thought there’s no way that we were going to have a season,” he said. “And in the back of my mind, I didn’t think we were going to have a season. They closed track and corona(virus) is worse now than before. I thought there’s no way we were going to have a season.
“I tried to keep them focused, but in the back of their mind, they didn’t think they were going to have a season and they didn’t excel in practices like they should’ve, which probably happens with a lot of teams.
“Lola (has a) desire to be the runner she is, she’s had that in her mind for all these years. So she was praying that there would be a season. So Lola’s been working hard all year-round and trying to do the best that she can.”
The competition heats up again next week on Friday back at Presque Isle for the Dale Phillips Invitational.
Ryan Stieg can be reached by email at rstieg@miningjournal. net.