A whole lot of weird/The Red Line

On the way out of the parking lot at Kingsford High School after Saturday’s U.P. Track and Field Finals, Mike Bleach and I saw three deer in the yard of the nearby Presbyterian church.

My best guess is that they came to race Chelsea Jacques of Calumet and Jamie Dompier of Chassell. Someone must have told them they were late or that they wouldn’t have won anyway, so they turned around, bounded back across Carpenter Ave. and went on their way.

We had a day full of weird Saturday. We got delayed by a train that came to a complete stop in an Iron Mountain intersection. We got rained on twice. The funny thing was how little weird there was on the track in front of us. It felt like a day for the favorites, and when six track meets are going on simultaneously behind you, sometimes that’s all one has the resources to focus on. So, here’s what slipped through the cracks during last week:

1. Like I said, Saturday was a day for favorites. Of the 11 winning entries from the Copper Country at U.P. Finals, none were seeded lower than third in their event coming in.

2. One possible exception would have been Ontonagon hurdler Lori Wardynski, who ran an excellent race only to get beat by Pickford’s Kim Cruickshank at the line of the Division 3 girls’ 100 hurdles. Wardynski was seeded fifth, though top seed Aspen Hood of Engadine dropped out due to a knee injury. The decision was as close as the Gladiators came to continuing an impressive streak. An Ontonagon entry had won an event at U.P. Finals every year from 2006-12. The longest active D-3 streak now belongs to Lake Linden-Hubbell. Sarah Audette’s second consecutive win in pole vault makes it six years in a row for a Lakes winner at Finals.

3. It wasn’t the best year for track in the Copper Country, but it wasn’t as bad as you might think. How soon we forgot there were only 10 winning entries at U.P. Finals in 2010, 11 in 2008 and just six in 2007. In fact, in the 13 years in which the MHSAA has contested the U.P. Finals in nearly-equal divisions, the average number of local winning entries per year has been 11.3.

4. Congrats to discus champs Olivia Rouleau and Gage Hawthorne of Hancock. They helped re-establish the Copper Country as the discus capital of the U.P. At least two of the six discus champs have been from the area in four of the last five years.

5. Mary Jarvis of Hancock (100 hurdles)?and the Calumet girls’ 400-meter relay team helped break two of the area’s longest event droughts. No Copper Country athlete of either gender had taken first in either of those races since 2008.

6. The longest active drought of either gender is now the 800 relay, in which there’s been no local winner since 2008. Grant Holmstrom of Hancock busted another local losing streak: he is the first male 800 meters champion from this area since Dave Campbell of Calumet in 1999. No local team has won a boys’ 1,600 relay since the MHSAA has been keeping its records on the Internet (1998). No local boy has won the 110 hurdles at U.P. Finals since Calumet’s Matt Wise finished his three-year string of domination in the event in 2002.

7. Jamie Dompier’s triple for Chassell in the 100, 200 and 400 in Division 3 was impressive and unique. No local runner has held all three U.P. titles in the nearly-equal divisions era, and according to the MHSAA’s Internet records, the last girl to have those wins in her career was Emily Karry of Hancock and Karry didn’t win them all at the same meet.

8. It was a great honor and a great pleasure to cover U.P. Division 1 Golf Finals at Portage Lake Golf Course, and kudos to Mark Maroste and the staff for getting everything in such solid shape. The story of the day was the unbelievable round of 69 filed by Marquette’s Avery Rochester. There were no rounds in the 60s at any of the Lower Peninsula finals contested back in October, and those golfers had two rounds with which to do it. Without knowing which tees were played where at the downstate venues (courses in Battle Creek and on the Grand Valley and Michigan State campuses), but the difference is not off the charts. The downstate D-1 winner went 73-75 on MSU’s Forest Akers East, the easiest course of the four, which plays to a slope rating in the mid-110s.

9. And now that my head hurts from calculating all that, an easier factoid. The Hancock boys won their fourth U.P. title in the last five years, with a second-place in 2012 to throw in. The only other U.P. school to finish in the top two in five straight years recently is Forest Park in Division 3, which sandwiched three straight wins from 2007-09 with runner-up finishes to Ontonagon in 2006 and Hancock in 2010.

10. How much deeper were the Houghton girls than the rest of the Division 1 field? The Gremlins’ four counting scores (82, 84, 88, 93) would have been at least 16 shots better than any combination of four scores from the field that weren’t turned in by Avery Rochester.

Special bonus factoid: The last time I got rained on at U.P. Finals was 2008, and yet I still got a light sunburn. We’ll file 2013 under ‘W’ for weird.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.