Wickstrom wave of the future for fourth-place Calumet girls

KINGSFORD – At the end of the Division 1 girls’ high jump competition at U.P. Finals Saturday, there was a rare meeting between the present and what looked like the future of Copper Country prep athletics.

The future, represented for the day by Calumet freshman Hailey Wickstrom, won out over Houghton senior Elisa Jurmu.

“It feels crazy. I definitely did not see that coming at all. I was just hoping for a place,” Wickstrom said.

The lanky Copper King survived to see a three-way battle between her, Jurmu and defending champ Hunter Viitala (Marquette) reach the 4-10 mark.

Viitala surprisingly exited there, and the Copper Country duo went up an inch to 4-11, and then to 5 feet. Wickstrom, who had survived last strikes against her at multiple heights, cleared to put the pressure on Jurmu and came away victorious.

Some last-minute check-ins with field event coach Keith Willis made a difference in those moments of adversity, she said.

“I just have to thank my coach, he’s always said, ‘Hailey, I know you can do it, you just have to believe in yourself,’ so I just kind of thought, ‘I can do it, come on, I’ve done it before, and it just helps you over.'”

Wickstrom’s win was an unexpected highlight for Calumet, which finished tied for fourth in the team standings with 46 points.

Marquette rolled to victory with 145, well ahead of second-place Escanaba’s 86. The Redettes won every individual running race longer than 200 meters, with Lindsey Rudden dominating the 800 and 1,600 but yielding to Amber Huebner for the rare 400-3,200 double.

The Redettes may have had the distances covered, but the sprints remained firmly in the grip of Calumet’s Chelsea Jacques, who dominated the 100 (12.73) and 200

(26.50) on a seasonably warm and breezy day with runner-up Bree Swan of Sault Ste. Marie more than a half-second behind in both races.

“She hates to lose. She steps it up. She comes to compete. When it’s time to race, she steps it up and goes,” Calumet girls’ coach Steve Parks said.

The junior now has three pairs of blowout victories in the sprints.

In the 400 relay, Jacques, anchoring the team of Lexie Rowe, Annie Tervo and Caitlin Klobuchar, came up just an eyelash short of a come-from-behind victory as Escanaba’s Lynsey Collins held her off in a photo finish.

“That was devastating until we found out our time, then it was a little better,” Jacques said.

Finding out the time was a noteworthy consolation prize because their 51.87 mark broke a 32-year-old school record.

“It’s been there since 1982, and there’s a reason why it’s been there since ’82. It’s not an easy record to get. We’ve been chasing that record for two years now and we finally got it here,” Parks said.

The slimmest of margins also decided proceedings in the shot put circle, too, where senior Annika Wheeler was crowned champion in the shot put when favorite Kirsten Iwanski (Marquette)’s last throw came up just a half-inch short of Wheeler’s first-round mark of 34-4.

Houghton racked up 32 1/2 points for a seventh-place team finish. Jurmu added a second place in discus to the total, which included a fifth and two sixths in relays, a fifth from Nicole St. Martin in pole vault and a sixth from Sloane Zenner in the 800.

On the boys’ side, Houghton also had a single winner, as Jacob Colling went all-in on the 3,200 and won his bet. Colling, his training limited by a stress fracture in his left tibia, decided to run only that race.

“The two-mile is really my race. I’ve never gotten an opportunity to focus on it like that,” the junior said.

He hung with Sault High’s Parker Scott, the runaway champ in the 1,600 and 800, and Marquette’s Lance Rambo for the first few laps but realized Escanaba’s Eric Cousineau had built up a gap after starting from a different alley. Colling bridged the gap to catch up, then ground out a series of hard laps that left him alone, right where he wanted to be.

“When I felt it was right, I passed him. I run best in the lead. When I put myself in that position of pressure as frontrunner, I really thrive on that pressure,” Colling said.

Cousineau faded to fourth and Scott and Rambo, both with a mile or more in already, did not mount a serious challenge.

Colling won by nine seconds in 10:07.67.

“Ever since I started running track since freshman year, even in eighth grade, it’s been my dream to win an event at U.P.’s, particularly the 3,200 which has always been my favorite and I’ve always felt I was the most competitive at. I’m still having a hard time believing that, to be honest,” Colling said.

The hometown Kingsford boys rolled to victory with 127 points. Marquette was second with 82.

Houghton landed in seventh with 31, getting a pair of runner-ups in field events. One, from pole vaulter Joe Dobbs, was fairly expected. The other, from sophomore Brad Ohtonen in shot put, was not. The fifth seed and second-youngest competitor, his toss of 43-2 was surpassed only by Cody Malanowski of Gladstone.

Ben Collaer had a fifth in discus and Thomas Schmidt placed in both long jump and the 100.

The day surpassed coach Dan Junttila’s expectations.

“We came in a little beat up but we’re very young. We only had two seniors that participated today and we did really well,” he said.

Calumet finished ninth overall with 20 points. Eric Lasanen finished a spot behind Dobbs in pole vault on misses, and the Kings picked up points in the hurdle events when Paul Torola ran third in the 110s and Chad Sturos edged Torola for fourth in the 300s. The Kings also placed in the 400 relay.