D-2 teams have shot at hardware

HANCOCK – Last year, the Copper Country Division 2 track squads – Hancock and L’Anse – came home empty-handed after U.P. Finals, scoring in multiple events but failing to record a win.

That should all change tomorrow.

With four No. 1 slots based on regional qualifying times and 12 total among the top three in their events, the Bulldogs and Purple Hornets have put themselves in a strong position to bring home significant hardware Saturday.

Among the top local contenders, Bulldog Gage Hawthorne has proven worthy in the shot put with consistent throws over 40 feet – last year’s Division 2 winner cleared 45-1 – and freshman Mary Jarvis has enjoyed a breakout season in the hurdles, placing herself as the No. 1 seed in the 100 hurdles and No. 2 in the 300.

“It is just good athletes in the right places,” Hancock distance coach Matt Dennis said. “You put the right people in the right spots, and they will do well. That is what we are looking at. We think we are in a strong position to do well.”

With Hancock junior Jacob Jarvis scoring in both hurdles events at last year’s Finals and securing top-three seeds this season, the leaping sibling combo could be celebrating en masse Saturday.

Jacob said he will be shooting to break the school record in the 300 hurdles – currently at 42.02 seconds – and will be happy with whatever place he finishes in if that goal is accomplished.

“I want the school record,” he said. “I am 0.6 seconds off right now, and that’s running on (slower) asphalt.

On Mary he added: “I can’t believe it. She is beating people that I couldn’t even dream of when I was a freshman,” Jacob said.

To drop the six-tenths of a second, this week was spent practicing starts, an area he cited with room for improvement.

Striding properly out of the blocks will be the key to get rolling for the entire race.

“I was talking to my coach, and it is mostly my start,” Jarvis said. “I need to improve those first couple steps. I am slow out of the blocks naturally, but if I can get a little faster there it will carry over until the whole race.”

As a team, Hancock has shined in the distance relays this season and will have a chance to make a splash Saturday.

Manistique qualified just ahead of the Bulldogs in both the 3200 and 1600 relay, and Dennis said this week of practice was devoted to cutting the time between the two teams down.

“We need to sharpen up the legs,” Dennis said. “Early in the week we were working on a lot of speed and then kind of tapered off as the week went along.

“(Handoffs) are an area where we can still improve. So that has definitely been a focus to try and cut some time. Good handoffs, a good, smooth start, that can all make a big difference.”

In the 800, Bulldog athlete Grant Holmstrom will contend after recording a 2:10 time at Regionals – the winner last year finished at 2:10 – while L’Anse’s Karly Hogard secured the No. 1 seed in the 200 with a 28.63 dash in qualifying.