KINGSFORD — Returning to Division 2 didn’t hinder the St. Ignace girls Saturday as they were crowned Upper Peninsula track and field champions for the fifth straight year.
The Saints, who won in D-3 a year ago, edged defending champion West Iron County 116-107 for the D-2 title this time. Third-place Newberry scored 75 points.
St. Ignace senior Rachel Hetherington was a triple-winner, taking the 100-meter dash in 13.08 seconds, 200 (26.86), anchoring the winning 800 relay and placing second in the 400 (1:02.15).
“It took me a long time to get in shape for the 400,” said Hetherington. “I tend to struggle with the strategy for that race, but it definitely helps me for the sprints. West Iron County is definitely major competition. The relay victory was exciting. It was huge for us to beat them in that relay because it meant more points for our team.
“I definitely came out strong out of the blocks and kept focused. I was really excited when I looked at the seedings and saw I had a chance.”
The Saints scored 36 points in the weight events. Senior Kelley Wright won discus at 107 feet, 2 inches and placed second in shot put (34-11¼). Junior Sarah Smith took shot (35-0¼) and fourth in discus (90-9).
Junior Autumn Orm added a first in long jump (15-3 1/2) for the Saints, who outscored West Iron 47½-20 in the field events.
“On paper, it didn’t look like we were supposed to win,” said St. Ignace coach Trudy Olsen. “We told the girls not to worry about places, but go for time, height and distance. Rachel came up big for us and our field events were huge. We didn’t have a lot of girls, but they worked hard.”
West Iron’s Emmy Kinner won the 400 (1:00.98), helped the winning 1,600 relay and took second in the 200 (27.42). Cassilyn Pellizzer also ran in that relay and won the 300 hurdles (48.19) and placed second in high jump (4-10).
Newberry sophomore Natalie Beaulieu captured the 3,200 (12:21.37) and helped the winning 3,200 relay and placed second in the 800 (2:31.55) and 1,600 (5:28.71).
Manistique sophomore Holly Blowers won the tightly-contested 800 (2:31.29), with Newberry sophomore Bridget Stoetzer third (2:31.62) and Westwood sophomore Katie Etelamaki fourth (2:35.56). Stoetzer also ran in the 3,200 relay.
Blowers also took the 1,600 in a school-record 5:26.3 and placed third in the 400 in a personal-best 1:02.4.
“I’ve been chasing the 1,600 record for three years,” said Blowers, who will be moving to Marquette with her family this summer. “Natalie, Bridget and Katie really pushed me in the 800. This is my last day as an Emerald. I’m going to miss running with them a lot. They’re great runners and quality people. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my family. I’m just happy to make my parents, brother and sister proud.”
The Emeralds scored 19½ of their 63 points in pole vault, with senior Elisa MacGregor leading the way in second at 8 feet.
PHOTO: St. Ignace's Rachel Hetherington (center) crosses the finish line first in the 100 meters at the U.P. Division 2 Final on Saturday at Kingsford. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)