By John Vrancic
Special to Second Half
HARVEY — The Marquette girls and Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister concluded their cross country seasons in impressive fashion in Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Final.
Marquette capped a perfect season by scoring 27 points, followed by defending champion Calumet 89 and Escanaba 112.
“It has been a tremendous performance by the ladies all year,” said Marquette coach Dale Phillips. “We had a veteran team and an excellent freshman (Amber Huebner). Summer running really paid off for them. Since Day 1 in practice they knew they were going after the championship.”
Burmeister also finished undefeated by covering the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, 36 seconds to become the first Menominee girl to be crowned U.P. champion since 1980.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Burmeister said shortly after the race. “This is kind of bittersweet with this being my last cross country race of my high school career. I’m so fortunate to be able to do this against so many good runners.”
Marquette sophomore Lindsey Rudden was runner-up (19:42), with Huebner third (19:56).
“Kameron deserves to win it,” said Rudden. “I’m not disappointed I lost because I gained so much. I learned a lot this year. I learned how to be a teammate and a runner. I’m so proud of our boys and girls teams.”
Hancock gained its first title since 1990 with 47 points. The Bulldogs were followed by St. Ignace with 60 and defending champion Newberry with 69.
“We had a real good day,” said Hancock coach Matt Dennis. “We came together as a team and kept pushing each other all year. We knew we had a good shot at winning trophies. We kept shooting for today and gave our best effort.”
Hancock senior Abbey Tembreull won in 21:04, followed by St. Ignace’s Lily Calcaterra (21:12), Newberry sophomore Natalie Beaulieu (21:16), Norway sophomore Kyra Johnson (21:30) and Ironwood senior Jessica Gering (21:37), who won a year ago.
“I had quite a bit left in the end,” said Tembreull, who plans to run cross country at Finlandia University next fall. “Once I saw the finish, I realized I could do it. I usually try to get in front of the pack early. Once I get in front it seems easier to keep the lead than trying to catch up. When that happens, I feel I’m more in control of my pace.”
Munising copped its first Division 3 title with 46 points and Cedarville squeezed past Dollar Bay 54-55 for runner-up honors.
“This is a great bunch of girls,” said Munising coach Fran DesArmo. “We’re going to miss our seniors. Cedarville and Dollar Bay were tough. I kept looking at the scores and saw Dollar Bay was running against Houghton, Hancock and Calumet all year. They ran against good competition. The key for us is the girls ran hard in the middle of the race and they stuck with it.”
The Mustangs were led by freshman Marissa Immel at 21:16.
“I was pleased with my race and proud of our girls team,” said Immel, who also plays on the school’s volleyball and tennis teams. “We pulled though today. We have four seniors who realized it was their last high school race and they left it all on the course. I think our perfect score at the (Central U.P./Skyline) conference meet helped a lot. All the girls wanted it real bad. We also have some good eighth graders coming up. I’m excited for next year.”
Rudyard junior Kaylee Hoolsema, who won in 20:32, was followed by Immel and Cedarville’s Emma Bohn (21:19).
“Our coaches told me I could probably get first if I went after it,” said Hoolsema, who became the first Rudyard girl to be crowned U.P. champion. “I was a little nervous coming over here because I never ran here before. I really didn’t know what to expect. The course was kind of slippery at Mile 2 and the rolling hills were kind of tiring in the end. But once you get that far into the race, you just have to go for it.”
PHOTO: Runners charge to the front at the start of Saturday's Upper Peninsula Division 1 Final. (Photo courtesy of RunMichigan.com/Paul Gerard.)