MUNISING — It was a historic day for Sault Ste. Marie’s cross country program Saturday as its girls team completed a sweep of the Upper Peninsula Division 1 titles 90 minutes after the boys started the championship run at Pictured Rocks Golf Course.
The Sault girls, placing three in the top 10 individuals, used their depth to win for the second time in three years with 56 points. Last year’s champion Marquette edged Houghton on a tie-breaker for runner-up honors as both teams scored 66 points.
“This is one for the record books,” said Sault coach Jim Martin. “This is the first time we won both in the same year.
“We had six girls who were hurt at some point of the season, but they kept getting better. We have a great coaching staff and new AD (athletic director) who’s doing an excellent job. This is a great day for our program.”
Negaunee junior Emily Paupore retained her championship, covering the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, 58.5 seconds on a cold, windy and blustery day.
“My original plan was to run this in about 18:40, but once we got here I kind of knew that wasn’t going to happen,” she said. “I was really excited to run. The weather didn’t really bother me. Once I got up the (last) hill, I saw my time and decided I wanted to go under 20.
“My dad and mom are always there to support me, and today my whole family was here to cheer me on.”
Marquette junior Ericka Asmus was runner-up at 20:30.5, followed by Houghton senior Anabel Needham (20:34.8), Ishpeming Westwood senior and last year’s D-2 champion Tessa Leece (20:40.1) and Houghton freshman Maria Velat (20:46.6).
Hancock grabbed six of the top 12 spots to gain its first D-2 championship in five years with 26 points.
The Bulldogs were followed by 2017 champion St. Ignace with 62 and Munising at 79.
“The tightness among our girls was huge,” said Hancock coach Matt Dennis. “We were pack runners all year, and it was just a question of how close to the front we would be.
"The teams were very competitive in our area. We had great competition from Houghton and Chassell all year, which only made us better.”
St. Ignace senior Elizabeth Becker earned her first individual title in 20:46, followed by Munising senior Madeleine Peramaki (21:09), Ironwood senior Emily Carey (21:17.9), Ishpeming freshman Abby Racine (21:36.2) and Hancock freshman Kalli Chynoweth (21:37.3).
Eben Junction Superior Central junior Danika Walters gained her D-3 crown at 20:37.9.
She was followed by Rock Mid-Peninsula sophomore and 2017 champion Daisy Englund (20:57.5), Chassell senior Lela Rautiola (21:32.8), Mid-Pen freshman Landry Koski (21:43.8) and Chassell freshman Paige Sleeman (21:49.7).
"I took a little more conservative approach today and tried to keep up with the Chassell girl (Rautiola),” said Walters. “I put on a surge at the mile mark and kept that pace.
“It basically feels great to be a U.P. champion, although it hasn’t quite set in yet. I took third at Norway last week, and I think it motivated me.”
Chassell, which grabbed five of the top eight places, retained its title with 25 points. The Panthers were followed by Cedarville with 84 and Mid-Pen with 95.
“Many of our girls have been running together for five years,” said Chassell coach Marco Guidotti. “This is a real cohesive unit. Our leadership is really infectious.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Negaunee's Emily Paupore (116) leads the pack in Division 1 with Sault Ste. Marie's Anna Hildebrand and Haleigh Knowles (131) following close behind. (Middle) Hancock's Kalli Chynoweth (142) and Ellie Sturos (147) led their team to the Division 2 title. (Below) Eben Junction Superior Central's Danika Walters (268) leads the Division 3 race with Chassell’s Lela Rautiola (263) and Rock Mid-Peninsula's Daisy Englund (355) pushing the pace. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click for more at RunMichigan.com.)