Jarvis, Hancock show strength

KINGSFORD – When a freshman comes and dominates at U.P. Finals, it usually comes about in an athlete with so much raw, explosive talent, that he or she will simply not be denied. Think of the sprinter who gallops away from the field or the distance runner who never seems to tire.

Where age and experience often prove the decisive advantage, however, are the events that take a little more strategy, or a bit more nuance.

Which makes Hancock freshman Mary Jarvis’ win in the 100-meter hurdles and second-place finish in the 300 hurdles all the more impressive Saturday at U.P. Track and Field Finals in Kingsford.

Blessed with natural speed and quick-leaping ability, Jarvis has turned good into great, and great into champion thanks to technique that belies her age.

Despite a wealth of nerves in her first appearance at U.P. Finals, Jarvis turned in a 16.85 dash, more than a half-second better than second-place finisher Cassilyn Pellizzer of West Iron County.

“She is a strong runner, but the thing is she has really good technique,” Hancock coach Jesse Chynoweth said. “And then she works really hard at it. Julie Heinonen, another freshman (who placed fourth in the 100 hurdles), might actually be faster than (Mary). She will consistently beat her to the first hurdle, but then you will see Mary runs away from her because of that technique. She is just solid all the way through.”

That superior technique shines through in the program of her steps.

In her ideal race, Jarvis takes three steps between each hurdle, pulling away a little more from the competition with each successful clearance.

Earlier in the season Jarvis would falter occasionally during a race, and fell into a four-step rhythm.

Hour after hour spent in practice to iron out the problem paid off though, as she said she became more comfortable with the routine in the last week and then nailed it Saturday.

“It felt like a good start and those first few hurdles were nice,” Jarvis said. “I need to do that to get my steps right. If I can get three steps I know it’s going well, but early in the season I was taking four steps sometimes, and then I was nervous about it so I kept taking four. So I worked on it and got it back down to three.”

So in her first high school season, essentially condensed into three weeks and often reduced to running in the halls of the school for practice, did Jarvis ever envision she would start summer vacation with a U.P. title to her name?

“Nope. Not at all. Not once,” Jarvis said. “It feels really good though.”

On the strength of the Bulldogs success in the hurdle events, Hancock placed a tidy fourth in the team scoring Saturday with 43 points. WestPAC league opponent West Iron County ran away with the meet, however, finishing with 144.

The top-five finish proved a significant bump from last year when the Bulldogs placed 11th with 1 1/2 points.

“The big thing for us is that we have a really strong core of freshman girls this year who have bought in and are working hard in practice every single day,” Chynoweth said. “Mary and (Heinonen) are just two of them, but it was good for all of them today to get exposed to this for the first time.”

Along with Jarvis’ win in the hurdles, junior Olivia Rouleau was able to drive home with a personal best-ever throw in the discus and U.P. title in hand.

A top-end swimmer, Rouleau showed off her impressive strength by uncorking a 102-foot, 5-inch throw Saturday to wrest away the title from Ishpeming’s Taylor Croley.

The 102-foot toss bested her previous personal best by at least four feet.

“She was actually kind of surprised today,” Chynoweth said. “She said, ‘Coach, I don’t really know where that came from.’ She had about a 98, 97 a few weeks ago, and that was her personal best. It is great when you can set a personal best at U.P. Finals.”