By John Vrancic
Special to Second Half
KINGSFORD — It was a historical day for the West Iron County girls at Saturday's Upper Peninsula Track Finals as they were crowned champions for the first time.
The Wykons topped the Division 2 standings with 144 points. Manistique brought home its first runner-up trophy with 99 and Newberry placed third at 84.
"We were down by 12 points at one point during the meet, but I knew we could make up the points," said West Iron coach Kristi Berutti. "The girls were so awesome. They literally did better than they were ranked. This (U.P. title) was our goal from the beginning. We had only two seniors, but they were great leaders. We'll be strong again next year."
West Iron junior Cassilyn Pellizzer won the 300-meter hurdles in a school-record 48.7 seconds, was runner-up in the 100 hurdles (17.41), took third in high jump at 4 feet, 10 inches and helped the winning 1,600 relay.
"I usually get tired on the home stretch and hit the last two hurdles," said Pellizzer, who appeared smooth going over the final two hurdles this time. "I was so nervous before and kind of transferred that energy to the race. The U.P. title was icing on the cake."
The Wykons, who won three relays, also got firsts from Carli Johnson in the 200 (28.3), Alexis Golfis in long jump (14-3¾) and Megan Miatech in shot put (34-10).
Freshman Holly Blowers took the 800 (2:29.56) for Manistique, which also won the 400 relay.
"We're very happy with being runners-up," said Manistique coach Chris Marana. "This is a big accomplishment for us. Hopefully, this will jumpstart us next year. We're losing some good seniors who will be hard to replace. But we have some good kids coming back. We knew we had to be at our A-plus game to beat West Iron. Our girls definitely competed hard, but West Iron was on top of its game today.”
Newberry freshman Natalie Beaulieu won the 1,600 in a personal-best 5:34.37 and also the 3,200 (12:12.55).
"I'm pretty happy with that," Beaulieu said. "I wanted to try to keep a steady pace. But with this being the U.P. Finals, I found that I went out a little harder. Although, this wasn't anything unexpected. I felt good in the 3,200 relay and 1,600 and was able to get into a rhythm.”
Iron Mountain senior Hailey LaFleur was a double winner, taking the 100 (13.49) and 400 (1:03.02).
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PHOTOS: (Top) West Iron County's Cassilyn Pellizzer clears a hurdle en route to winning the 300 race and setting a school record of 48.7 seconds. (Middle) Iron Mountain senior Hailey LaFleur won two championships Saturday. (Photo by Paul Gerard. Click to see more photo coverage from RunMichigan.com.)