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Rudden gets U.P. title as Redettes, Miners boys win

By JOHN VRANCIC

Special to the Journal

FLAT ROCK – It was a triumphant conclusion to Lindsey Rudden’s high school cross country career Saturday as she was crowned Upper Peninsula Division 1 champion for the first time.

The Marquette Senior High School senior covered the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 59.8 seconds on a cloudy and rainy day at Beauchamp’s Grove a few miles outside of Gladstone and Escanaba.

Negaunee sophomore Clara Johnson was runner-up in 19:05.8.

“It’s overdue,” said Rudden, who plans to run at Michigan State University next fall. “The second mile was real fast. We were pushing each other.

“It’s pretty humid, which made it hard to breathe. The course was pretty muddy in the first mile, otherwise it was pretty solid.”

Rudden led the Marquette girls to the team championship for the third straight year with 40 points. They were followed by Sault Ste. Marie with 49 points, while Negaunee had 97 and Calumet 115. Westwood was 10th with 289.

“All the girls ran well in tough conditions,” Marquette coach Dale Phillips said. “I’m happy for Lindsey. This definitely takes a weight off her shoulders. This is a nice addition to her resume.”

The Negaunee boys finished their season undefeated, easily capturing their first U.P. title in 32 years with 43 points. They were followed by Sault Ste. Marie with 85, then Marquette 93, Houghton 110 and Escanaba 115. Westwood was seventh with 178.

“Our guys really wanted it,” Negaunee coach Lisa Bigalk said. “They went out and attacked. This was such an incredible season. The guys didn’t have an off day all year.

“This is a real close team. They stayed together and helped each other through. Hopefully, this will help us attract more guys into our program. This should motivate them for next season.”

For Rudden, the victory helped atone for misfortune she had at the U.P. Finals in previous years.

“All the lessons came together in this one race,” she said. “This is kind of a relief. Now, I’m looking forward to track (next spring).”

Johnson’s strategy was to stay with Rudden as long as she could.

“She (Rudden) is really good,” Johnson said. “I hung with her for nearly two miles. I didn’t have enough to stay with her all the way, but I thought it was worth a try. I thought (Westwood’s) Katie (Etelamaki) also ran real well. I’m glad I got to race with her all year. She was really closing the gap in the end.”

Etelamaki finished third about four seconds behind Johnson in 19:09.6.

Bigalk was pleased not only with Johnson’s effort, but also both her teams’ performances.

“I thought our girls really ran well,” she said. “It was so good to see Lindsey finally win it and Clara push her.”

After Etelamaki came Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Mackenzie Kalchik in 19:21.6 and Marquette senior Holly Blowers in a personal-best 19:27.4.

“This is not what I was hoping for, but we were working as a team,” said Blowers, who was hoping to break 19 minutes. “I just wanted to do it for the team. We have great girls on our team and great competition. I’m going to miss this so much.”

Marquette’s Becci McNamee took seventh (19:34.8) and junior Amber Huebner was ninth (20:08.1).

“Holly ran a nice race, and I think Becci had a personal best,” said Phillips. “Our fifth and sixth girls (Chloe Henning and Samantha Borzick) also ran their personal best, which was a big help.”

Marquette senior Lance Rambo earned his second title in three years in 16:11, followed by Negaunee sophomore Colton Yesney (16:32.3) and Esky junior Joey Wolfe (16:49.4).

“I probably could have gone a little faster, but I just wanted to absorb everything in the last half-mile,” Rambo said. “Colton ran a great race. He was so happy to get second and Logan (Zueger) really stepped up for us. I’m also so happy to see Lindsey win it today.

“Our team didn’t have its best race, but I love this course. I really appreciate Gladstone putting on this meet.”

Kingsford senior Nate Carey, who came in as defending champ, took fourth this time (16:52). He was followed by Calumet’s Mitch Delong (16:52.3), Zueger (17:06) and Negaunee’s Ethan Wallner (17:09).

Westwood’s top finisher was Fred Boburka in 50th in 19:43.6.