Miners defend title, Gremlin girls second

HOUGHTON – The Negaunee girls’ track and field team made a successful defense of their Division 1 regional title Thursday, getting help from favorites and dark horses alike.

The Miners extended their winning streak to five with 55 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Houghton’s 43 1/2. Calumet (38), Kingsford (27) and Gwinn (22 1/2) rounded out the totals.

Negaunee built its total on the strength of some favorites, notably senior Ashley Veale, who swept the hurdles with ease, but also from strong work from less-heralded sources. Clara Churchill held off Houghton’s Ashley Laux to win the 800-meter run in 2 minutes, 35.61 seconds and anchored a winning 3,200-meter relay.

“Once again, we had some great performances from Ashley Veale. She had a fantastic meet once again. She’s been performing all year, very consistent and she had a great day,” Negaunee coach Vickie Paupore said. “We also had some people that qualified we didn’t expect to qualify. And when you do that it really helps your team effort as well.”

As has been their custom for some time now, the Gremlins fared best in field events. Elisa Jurmu (discus, 105-1) and Annika Wheeler (31-11) teamed up to sweep the throws.

The Gremlins augmented those wins with seven second-place finishes and qualified 16 entries for U.P. Finals in Kingsford June 1, for which the top four finishers in each event qualify.

“The effort was there today and you never know what’s going to happen in the regional. Points are tough to come by”” Houghton coach Ross Coltman said.

For third-place Calumet, it was about the power of some young stars. Chelsea Jacques whipped the field, including Veale, in the sprints, taking the 100 in 12.59 (just .04 seconds off her U.P. record from the 2012 Finals, and into a headwind to boot), and the 200 by more than a second in 27.08.

“I like having the competition. Obviously, they’re great runners. I wish I could have gone a little faster. I guess it wasn’t all there,” Jacques said.

Leah Kiilunen comfortably took the 1,600 (5:48.57) and 3,200 (12:49.14) and the Copper Kings added an individual win from Morgan Peters in the pole vault (8-0) and top spot in the 400 relay (53.59). Calumet will have 11 entries at Finals.

Carlee Benzie starred for Kingsford, claiming the Flivvers’ only individual win in long jump, leading off the winning 800-meter relay and finishing third in both sprints. Hannah Tresedder took a second behind Negaunee’s Ashley Tresedder in the 400.

Gwinn also claimed some honors, led by Lydia Asplund’s first in high jump and a runner-up from Asplund in long jump and Morgan Bruce in shot put.