By John Vrancic
Special for Second Half
KINGSFORD — The St. Ignace girls returned to familiar territory Saturday, earning their first Upper Peninsula Division 2 track title in three years with 110 points.
Munising took runner-up honors at 102, and two-time defending champion Ishpeming took third this time with 91.
“We have a great group of girls who work well together,” said St. Ignace coach Trudy Olsen. “They came here hungry. They wanted to regain the title. They did amazing. It’s all about them.”
Prior to 2015, the Saints were crowned champions five years in a row, including a Division 3 title in 2013.
St. Ignace junior Linnee Gustafson matched the meet record in high jump at 5 feet, 4 inches, which she shares with Nicole Vanderlin of Norway from 2011 and 2012.
Gustafson’s winning leap also set a school record, an inch higher than her previous best (5-3) from this year’s Regional meet on May 19.
“I’m excited,” she said. "Today my steps felt perfect. It was a relief to set the school record in the Regional. Now I’m mostly competing with myself.”
Sophomore teammate Emily Coveyou anchored the winning 1,600 relay, clocked at a season-best 4:23.12, and placed second in the 200 (27.86) and 400 (1:01.70)
“It feels good to get the title back.” said Coveyou. “We felt we had a pretty good chance coming in. I think this gives us motivation for next year.”
Classmate Libby Becker held off Iron River West Iron County senior Emmy Kinner for the 800 title. Becker was clocked at 2:27.19, followed by Kinner in a school-record 2:28.02.
“This is very, very, very exciting,” said Becker. “I heard her coming behind me. I was feeling a little pressure, but I turned that pressure into energy. The 800 is a very tough race. The last 200 meters is the most challenging. You get tired, but have to find a way to overcome that.”
Munising senior Michaela Peramaki, who will continue her track & field career at Central Michigan University, won pole vault (8-6), long jump (15-8¾) and the 100 (12.79), the last ahead of Kinner – who had won the 100, 200 and 400 the last two years.
“I had never beaten her (Kinner) before,” said Peramaki. “I did not expect that. I knew if I was going to beat Emmy, I needed a good start and I executed that. In long jump, I didn’t jump as far as I usually do, but it still went well. I want to thank my parents (Matt and Ann) for giving me the God-given talent and all the encouragement they gave me. They have helped me so much.”
St. Ignace senior Alysse Bentley, who was runner-up in pole vault at 8-0, described what it was like to jump with Peramaki.
“It’s good competition,” she said. “I knew I was seeded second and just wanted to finish as high as I was seeded. I was impressed with how hard she runs and her swing up. You can tell she puts a lot of time into it.”
Freshman Madeleine Peramaki (Michaela’s sister) won the 1,600 (5:38.69) and 3,200 (12:58.11) and placed third in the 800 (2:32.13). Junior teammate Alyssa Webber was runner-up in the 3,200 (13:17.80) and third in the 1,600 (5:50.41).
Ishpeming’s Marissa Maino swept the weight events, taking shot put (36-6¼) and discus (108-9½).
Kinner set a meet record in the 400 (59.18), topping the previous (1:00.30) by Kara Dale of Ishpeming in 2010. She also won the 200 (27.25) and was runner-up in the 100 (12.87).
“This is the first time breaking a minute in the 400, and having all the competition helped me get the school record in the 800,” she said. “I was in lane 2 in the 100, which makes it tough because you’re not next to the fastest runners. Breaking a minute in the 400 is something I really wanted to do, and I had a good day for it.”
Kinner then described how her track career began.
“When I was in eighth grade, I ran track to get out of school,” she said. “Mrs. B (coach Kristi Berutti) saw me running and wanted me to run against some of the high school runners. She believed in me and convinced me to come out. At first I didn’t like it, but it grew on me.”
Newberry senior Taylor Bryant captured the 100 hurdles (16.56) and 300 (49.18), helped the Indians take second in the 800 relay (1:54.40) and placed third in the 100 dash (13.52).
“My starts were okay,” said Bryant. “It felt good coming out in the hurdles. My start could have been a little better in the 100 dash, but it still went all right.”
Ishpeming’s Katie Loman took second in the 100 hurdles (17.07) and 300 (49.33) and anchored the winning 800 relay (1:53.77).
Click for full results.
PHOTO: (Top) St. Ignace's Linnee Gustafson pushes the pace during the 800 relay. (Middle) Newberry’s Taylor Bryant breaks away on the way to winning the 100 hurdles. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)