No wins, but still prizes for D-3 boys

KINGSFORD – Copper Country boys took home a smaller haul of first-place medals from the 2013 U.P. Track and Field Finals Saturday, but many, like Lake Linden-Hubbell senior Alex Knight, still had something to show for their efforts.

Knight broke a 35-year-old school record in the 800-meter run en route to a strong third-place finish in Division 3.

The Lakes boys led local D-3 schools with 22 points and finished in a tie for 10th with traditional rival Forest Park.

North Dickinson got 36 points from sprinter/hurdler Tim Hruska alone (three firsts and a third) to win the title with 77 points. Pickford, St. Ignace and Rapid River took the next three places.

Perhaps inspired by Hancock’s Grant Holmstrom, who had won the Division 2 800 minutes before with a similar strategy, Knight went out hard and led the field across the finish line after the first lap. However, he couldn’t drop defending champion Tyler Kienitz of Superior Central or 1,600 meters winner Josh Hester of Cedarville. Both passed him on the first half of lap two. Hester put away Kienitz for the win in 2 minutes, 3.63 seconds, but Knight had enough left in the tank to consolidate a podium finish in 2:06.92, just ahead of Gregg Mishica’s 2:07.1 mark from 1978.

“I just ran with them or ahead of them as long as I could,” Knight said. “Even though they beat me, it was cool to be able to say I got the record.”

In fact, Knight dusted off a Lakes track record book that hadn’t been changed in any event since 1998.

“The first lap, I went a lot faster than I normally do. Coming in on the last lap, I could see it, it was getting pretty close, and I knew it was going to be really close,” he said.

The relay squad of Beau Dupuis, Konrad Klein, Trent Ambuehl and Cody Kumpula matched Knight’s finish with a third in the 800 relay.

Ambuehl picked up a fourth in pole vault, while Kumpula placed in a three-way dead heat for fifth in the 100 despite not being fully recovered from a hamstring pull at the Copper Country Conference meet two weeks ago.

Charles Heckel (fourth) and Ryan Knoll (sixth) also placed in discus for LL-H.

Dollar Bay’s Brett Houle picked up six points the hard way in the 3,200-meter run as part of a day that seemed cursed for distance runners.

Conditions Saturday veered from cloudy to sunny back to cloudy. Despite moving the track schedule up to avoid a front scheduled to arrive in the area in late afternoon, the first wave of moderate rain came during the 800 just before 3 p.m. EDT and was followed by more sunshine and a quick warm-up. A lap into the last of four 3,200-meter runs, the skies opened up on Houle and the D-3 boys field at about 3:30, including three Bay teammates.

Houle managed his pace and splashed to third behind Munising’s Brett Hannah in 10:57.06. The race finished up just before lightning triggered an hour-long delay. However, the full program was completed.

Ontonagon claimed a single point, a sixth by senior Aaron Kaikko in the 400.