A total of 17 top-10 individual finishers from last season’s Upper Peninsula Boys Cross Country Finals graduated this spring – resulting in a possible new look to at least one championship race Saturday at Gentz’s Homestead Golf Course in Marquette.
While Marquette remains an annual favorite in Division 1 and Dollar Bay looks like the team to chase again in Division 3, Division 2 might be a little less predictable for the first time in a while as always-speedy Ishpeming is among those bringing a mostly-new crew. Similarly, only one 2020 individual champion will return this weekend, and from a Division 3 also welcoming a number of new contenders.
Saturday’s races begin with the Division 1 girls at 11 a.m. and conclude with the Division 3 boys at 1:30 p.m. Check back Saturday evening for coverage, and see below for more teams and individuals to watch. (Click for race information and competitors.)
Reigning champion: Marquette
2020 runner-up: Sault Ste. Marie
Top-ranked: 1. Marquette, 2. Houghton, 3. Calumet.
Marquette is seeking its third-straight Division 1 title after edging Sault Ste. Marie by nine points last season and six in 2019. Five of last season’s top seven runners will race again this weekend, including juniors Carson and Colin Vanderschaaf (who placed third and fifth, respectively, in 2020) and senior Luke Janofski (sixth) as all five Marquette returnees finished among the top 19 individuals overall. Senior Eric Weiss was the individual runner-up last season to lead Houghton’s third-place team finish, and he’s one of three back from that lineup. Sault Ste. Marie should figure in significantly again with four runners back from last season’s lineup (including three who placed among the top 19 overall), led by junior Cody Aldridge (eighth) and senior Riley Eavou (ninth).
Individuals: Total, 10 from last season’s top 20 will be back this weekend. Gladstone junior Drew Hughes is another to watch after finishing 12th a year ago and fifth as a freshman.
Reigning champion: Ishpeming
2020 runner-up: Painesdale Jeffers
Top ranked: 1. Painesdale Jeffers, 2. Ironwood, 3. St. Ignace.
Ishpeming has won the last three Division 2 titles and six of the last seven, but graduated its top five runners from last season’s team and returns this weekend with five sophomores and a freshman. Painesdale Jeffers graduated four of its five runners from last season’s runner-up team, with junior Tavin Larson hoping to lead the next five to the front after taking fourth individually in 2020. Ironwood returns four runners from its fourth-place team finish, led by junior Tyler Smith (14th).
Individuals: Half of last season’s top 20 individual finishers graduated, and total seven runners will return this weekend from that remaining group. Larson is the highest-returning placer, followed by West Iron County sophomore John Swenski (eighth) and Ishpeming sophomore Parker Gauthier (10th).
Reigning champion: Dollar Bay
2020 runner-up: Rudyard
Top ranked: 1. Dollar Bay, 2. Brimley, 3. Brimley Ojibwe Charter.
Dollar Bay went from runner-up in 2019 to winning its first championship in 2020, and four of its top six from last year will run this weekend with junior Cooper Stout returning after finishing sixth individually. Big things are expected from Brimley with four of its top five back after finishing fifth last season, and Ojibwe Charter brings back two of three individual qualifiers from a year ago as it seeks a high team finish. Stephenson is an interesting possibility with its top six runners back from last year’s team that finished fourth, including junior Griffin Brown (ninth individually) and senior Corey Buckley (11th).
Individuals: Half of the Division 3 top 20 from last season also graduated, but nine of the remaining 10 will be back Saturday. Ewen-Trout Creek senior Jonah Nordine is the reigning champ after clearing the field last season by nearly 25 seconds. Engadine junior Conrad Spieles also returns from the top 10 after placing ninth last fall.
PHOTO Marquette's Luke Janofski (866) and Colin Vanderschaaf (870), Houghton's Eric Weiss (778), and Marquette's Brady Ketzenberger (867) run at the Queen City Invitational this season. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)