By John Vrancic
Special for Second Half
MARQUETTE — Most Upper Peninsula track coaches will tell anyone the weather always is perfect in the Dome.
After all, the temperature is constantly in the 70s and there’s no wind, rain or snow to contend with inside Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome. And most people agree it was better than competing outdoors last week
Engadine junior Ashtyn Buss was among a group of student-athletes to get a taste of competing in both environments during the Superior Central invitational on April 17.
Buss won girls shot put at 37 feet, 5½ inches inside the Dome, but failed to place in discus, which took place in the great outdoors against a stiff breeze with temperatures hovering near 30 degrees.
“It was pretty important to get a meet in,” she said. “It was very much a relief to be in here for shot. It’s nice and warm in here, but it was sure cold out there for disc. My shoulder tightened up, and I scratched.
“I had good distance on some of my throws, but I kept throwing out of bounds. I can learn from this.”
Cedarville sophomore Caroline Freel, who anchored the winning 1600-meter relay, also stressed the importance of her school’s team getting a meet under its belt.
“This gives us a gauge of where we’re at,” she said. “It was very much a relief to be indoors. Track season up here is known for its unpredictability.”
Although most distance runners are used to running in the cold, Chassell sophomore Lela Rautiola was also glad to be running indoors.
“It helps to get this meet in,” said Rautiola, who won the 1,600 run in 5 minutes, 59.54 seconds. “My lungs are burning from the air, but it’s better than being outdoors today.”
Bark River-Harris coach Katina Demers was mostly thankful the Broncos had a chance to compete.
“It’s so important to get something under our belts in April,” she said. “This was a good learning experience for the younger kids. We’re also very thankful this was indoors. It was very cold outside. I’m surprised they held discus today because of the elements.”
Outside temperatures warmed to the upper 40s the next day (April 18). Rain, however, developed during the course of that day.
Many spectators attending the Marquette Invitational that next day commented about the weather conditions and were glad to have the opportunity to watch track & field competition indoors.
Some distance runners, however, may have preferred to be outdoors on a day during which conditions were more favorable than 24 hours earlier.
Sault Ste. Marie senior Aaron Kinsella may have been among them after winning the 3,200 in 11:12.67.
“That was a pretty good effort by Aaron,” said Sault boys coach D.J. Baars. “He was running all alone and he ran tough. We thought his time might have been a little faster. Aaron said it was hot in here.”
The series of indoor track meets at the Dome concluded with the Ishpeming Invitational on April 19.
Although the sun made an appearance, temperatures had dropped about 10 degrees from the previous day.
Manistique senior Kelsey Dehanke enjoyed the comforts of competing indoors while winning the girls high jump at 4-foot-10.
"It’s a relief to be indoors,” said Dehanke, who plans to attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay after high school to major in dental hygiene. “It’s just easier on the leg muscles. I don’t like sitting around in the cold.”
This marked the second meet this season for the Newberry girls, who were runners-up in an outdoor quadrangular meet at St. Ignace the day before.
“It’s important to get meets in this early, but the wind was so cold at St. Ignace,” said Newberry sophomore Madison Grigg, who led off the winning 800 relay. “It’s much better being in here.”
The Ishpeming boys and Munising girls were crowned champions among the Division 2 schools competing in the finale at NMU.
Marquette swept both ends of its invitational, which featured Division 1 schools, and the Bessemer boys and Lake Linden-Hubbell girls earned top honors among the Division 3 schools in the Superior Central Invite.
“Getting meets in early is huge, especially where we’re located,” said Bessemer coach Mark Mazzone. “We often don’t get outside until late April or early May."
PHOTO: Upper Peninsula athletes compete during an April meet at Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome during the start of the 2016 season. (Photo by Paul Gerard.)