Track is back, baby

LAKE LINDEN – Neck and neck with a pair of Dollar Bay girls and a Lake Linden-Hubbell challenger for the first three laps of the 1,600 Friday afternoon, Hancock runner Madisyn Wright pushed all-out over the final 400 meters to pull away with a four-second victory.

It was the first mile she had run on an actual track all year.

Thanks to a bevy of spring snowfalls, the Lake Linden-Hubbell Invite marked the first outdoor track meet of the season – with Regionals less than a week away.

For most of the participants, running on an actual track was an event in itself.

“It’s mostly been too bad weather-wise to run outside so we just run laps inside the school,” Wright said. “We have wide hallways.

“This was the first mile I had run on a track all year. I was just going with it and hoping.”

Wright held off Lakes runner-up Clara Knight and a trio of Daavettila’s from Dollar Bay (Carli, Cami and Julia) with a burst over the final 200 meters. The Daavettila’s would go on to take first, second and third in the two-mile race.

“In the last half of lap I just try and give it my all, that is what my coach told me to do,” Wright said. “I really wanted it, so I just gave it more than anything. I was right there, and I knew I could do it, so I just pushed myself more than anything.”

The Lake girls won the meet with a 163 final score, with Hancock (125) and Dollar Bay (71) following. Chassell (57), Ontonagon (50), Baraga (48) and Jeffers (2) rounded out the standings.

Chassell’s Jamie Dompier kicked off her senior year with the sprinter treble, winning the 100, 200 and 400 in dominant fashion. Lakes’ sophomore Sarah Audette shined in the field events, winning the high jump and pole vault while placing fifth in the long jump.

“For actual days on the track, I think we have had three or four (before today),” LL-H coach Gary Guisfredi said. “This was like the fifth day of the year on the track where the snow was gone, we could run all events and actually participate the way we wanted to. And I’m sure everybody else is about the same.”

On the boys side, the Lakes dominated with a final score of 233. Hancock came in second place with 100, followed by Dollar Bay (70), Chassell (41), Ontonagon (20), Baraga (16) and Jeffers (16) rounding up the team scores.

The host’s day was highlighted with the top five places in the pole vault.

Junior Trent Ambuehl won with a clearance of 11-feet, edging second-place finisher James Marietta on faults. Blake Dupuis cleared 10-feet and Thomas Plante and Beau Dupuis tied for fifth.

According to Ambuehl, the Lakes collection of talented vaulters has helped keep the group focused over the long layoff with their own brand of competition.

“It was tough having all those meets cancelled, so we had to create our own little competitions in practice,” Ambuehl said. “It’s nice because in practice, we kind of have mini-meets between each other, and we have good competition. It’s fun.”

Ambuehl and Marietta both just missed out on clearing 11-6 – which would have tied a personal record for Ambuehl set at last year’s Regional event.

“It was tough today,” Ambuehl said. “Especially with my (four) events, they all tend to be later, and today when I was going for the higher heights (in the pole vault) I was a lot more winded. It’s a lot easier when you have more practices, but everyone is dealing with it I guess.”

Lake Linden swept three of the relay events with Hancock taking the 3200.

For the Bulldogs, Jacob Jarvis starred on the day, sweeping the hurdles and leading the 3200-relay victory.

Cody Kumpula enjoyed a banner day for the Lakes, winning the 100, 200 and long jump. Chassell sprinter Zachary Cherubini took first in the 400 and high jump, while Dollar Bay distance runner Brett Houle topped the 1600 and 3200 races.

“We have to give a lot of credit to the custodial staff for getting the track ready, and even the Village of Lake Linden came down with their big sweeper and helped us clear the track of sand and all the runoff,” Guisfredi said. “We were just happy to be out here with the sun shining.”