Division 2 track could have most winners in years

HOUGHTON – Measured by U.P. Finals points and winners, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 track and field seasons were not great harvests for the two local Division 2 teams: Hancock and L’Anse.

But the Bulldogs showed a lot of promise in 2013 and the Purple Hornets may be in a position to join them this year.

“The big thing is that we’ve just got a handful of really strong athletes and those kids have been able to carry us. It’s not necessarily that our numbers are high, it’s that the ones we have are that good,” Hancock coach Jesse Chynoweth said.

Four Hancock athletes won events at least year’s finals.

The Division 2 portion of Saturday’s U.P. Finals in Kingsford has the potential to be one of the best hauls in terms of blue ribbons in years, even if depth probably makes it hard for the Bulldogs to make a challenge in the team standings.

One of Hancock’s best hopes is senior hurdler Jacob Jarvis. He’s the favorite in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. If he wins the 110s, he’d be the first local athlete to take the event since the dynamic Matt Wise (Calumet) in 2002.

Coach Jesse Chynoweth noted how Jarvis, a strong student, has taken to the precision technique necessary to be successful.

“He likes to analyze and the hurdles is definitely a technical sport,” Chynoweth said.

However, a dose of the weight room, originally prescribed for the winter prep skiing season, has made a big difference too.

Jarvis’s top competition in the events will be Westwood’s Vincente Carlson. Carlson won the 110s last year and took second in the 300s. Jarvis was third in both events.

The throwing circle is familiar territory for the Bulldogs, who have 11 firsts in throwing events at U.P. Finals over the last six years. Sophomore Gage Hawthorne is poised to add to that total for some time to come.

Hawthorne won the D-2 discus as a freshman and finished a strong second in shot put. His regional placement (48-3) is 6 1/2 feet beyond all comers in shot and nearly 22 feet ahead of the field in discus.

“He’s got a bright future in front of him. That’s a man’s sport. As he gets stronger his junior and senior year I’m sure he’s going to hit the weights hard and when he combines that with his technique, he could be knocking on the door of 60 (feet in shot).”

Hancock’s team of Alex Dewald, Jack Fenton, Brandon Zamora and Jarvis is also the first seed in the 800 relay.

L’Anse could be poised to end a major drought Saturday. No individual athlete from LHS has won an event at U.P. Finals since Becky Genschow in the girls’ discus in 2002 and no L’Anse boy has come home a winner since Mike Nordstrom in the long jump in 1993.

However, the Hornet boys have speed to burn and will be a factor in several of the ‘explosive’ events, starting with the 400 relay, where the team of Joey Beauprey, Ryan Beauprey, Ryan LaBerge and Brandon Kemppainen will be the top seed.

In addition, LaBerge is the top seed in the 200 meters and second seed in the long jump, while Kemppainen is the top seed in the 100.

On the girls’ side, the strength of both local teams is thinner, though Olivia Rouleau of the Bulldogs is a narrow favorite to defend her U.P. title in the discus. Ellie Lucier should be a contender for high placement in both the 300 hurdles and the 200.

L’Anse’s only entries on the girls’ side are sprint relays, where the Hornets are seeded fourth in both the 400 and 800.