Calumet girls land regional runner-up

NEGAUNEE – Neither rain nor snow nor darn cold temperatures for the middle of May could keep the Negaunee girls’ track team from its appointed duties on Thursday.

The Miners’ task was to defend their MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 regional track and field title, and NHS did it with ease to take this championship for the sixth straight year.

With enough snow falling during the late afternoon and early evening to cover most of the infield grass, Negaunee scored 79 points to 43 for runner-up Calumet. Houghton was third with 34, followed by Kingsford with 26 and Gwinn 5.

The top four finishers in each race, both individual and relays, move on to the U.P. Finals to be held in Kingsford on Saturday, May 31.

So top-four finishes were just as important as piling up points, according to veteran Miners coach Vicki Paupore.

“This was a great day for us with so many outstanding finishes, especially considering the weather,” Paupore said. “Of course, our times might not be so great, but our girls toughed it out. This is the worst weather I’ve seen at this meet in my 20 years or so. This was snowball-making weather.”

Negaunee went out and won three of the first four running events, not to mention taking a majority of the field events that were decided before most of the races were held.

As she has all season, Miners freshman Aleda Johnson had a big day, taking part in three wins and coming in second in another to senior teammate Clara Churchill.

Johnson won the pole vault, 400-meter dash and ran the anchor leg of the winning 1,600 relay while missing first place by less than two seconds in the 800.

Churchill added wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays to go with her 800 victory.

Calumet was paced by junior Chelsea Jacques winning the 100 and 200 with ease, taking the shorter race by a full second and the 200 by nearly a second and a half. She also anchored the Kings’ winning 400 relay team.

Sophomore teammate Leah Kiilunen won nearly as easily at long distance, taking the 1,600 by 12 seconds and the 3,200 by 30 full ticks.

Kingsford’s lone victory was posted by junior Hannah Allen in the 300 hurdles and Houghton’s single win was turned in by senior Annika Wheeler in the shot put.

Calumet qualified 12 entries into the finals, including three of four relays. Carissa Pavolich and Hailey Wickstrom ended up in the top two spots of a three-way deadlock at 4-foot-8 in the high jump.

Houghton will have 15 entries in Kingsford, including two apiece in both hurdle events after underclassmen Nicole St. Martin and Cara Monette both placed, two in discus and two in high jump.