With the sun shining down on the Kilpela Farm, the local high school cross country season began Tuesday as the Jeffers Jets hosted the Jeffers Invite. The Houghton Gremlins boasted the top runners thanks to strong performances by Nick Wilson for the boys and Annabel Needham for the girls.
When the final results were tallied, the Houghton boys won with 29 points, 26 points better than Gogebic. The Calumet Copper Kings girls took first as a team with 56 points, five points better than the Gremlins.
Gremlins head coach Traci Sayen was pleased with the efforts of her three boys: Wilson, Seth Helman, and Clayton Sayen, who finished first, third and fourth, respectively. The trio led after the first lap, but Helman and Clayton Sayen slipped off the pace during the second loop. Wilson’s winning time was 17 minutes, 34 seconds.
Still Sayen could not say enough about her three leaders both during races and practices.
“We’re lucky to have them. Definitely,” said Traci Sayen. “They pushed each other all track season and they push each other in a good way.”
Two of the three are still relatively new to the sport, but have picked up the nuances quickly.
“It is really an intrinsic sport,” said Sayen. “You have to be mentally tough. They want it themselves. They have goals for themselves.”
Finishing second in the individual competition was Mitchell DeLong of Calumet, who was just 12 seconds behind Wilson. He really turned things on during the second lap after sitting just behind the trio of Gremlins after the first circuit.
Dollar Bay’s Brendan LeClaire edged out Chassell’s Hunter Rautiola for fifth by just two seconds.
On the girls side, Needham jumped to the lead early on and never really looked back, finishing with a time of 22:02. The sophomore appears to be poised to be one of the toughest runners this season.
“She is another one who is intrinsically motivated,” said Sayen. “She puts the work in during the summer and she’s going to be good.”
Needham led several yards after the first lap, and for the youngster, who was recently named team captain, it was a type of solid run Sayen has come to expect out of her. While she has the running part down, she is still learning what it means to be a leader.
“I think they are looking to her for leadership,” said Sayen. “I think that, more and more, she will pull that role in.”
Trying to catch Needham throughout the 3.1 miles of the race was Dollar Bay’s Cami Daavettila, who finished 25 seconds later. The last of a long line of Daavettilas, the senior has taken the spotlight this season after the graduation of sister Carli this past spring.
“This is really Cami’s year to become the leader,” said Bays coach Matt Zimmer. “She’s put a lot of time in during the summer into her running, and a lot of effort.”
Zimmer has faith in his team captain that she is ready to take that next step this season and finish her career with a U.P. title. Given that the Chassell Panthers graduated three of their top girls from last year’s team, it is certainly possible that this could be the season for Dollar Bay.
However, do not tell Zimmer that.
“You can never say the Chassell girls are out of the way,” said Zimmer. “Chassell has a phenomenal program. They have a great coach. We really have a tough area up here right now. Every single school sends their fighters forward and every single school goes for it.”
Daavettila, who is a natural athlete, has the drive that Zimmer hopes will rub off on her teammates.
“She does what you ask, and she puts it forth,” said Zimmer. “She runs smart every single time. She is a coachable athlete.”
West Iron County’s Taylor Clarke placed third. Dollar Bay’s Taylor Busser took fourth.
Calumet’s Greta Poyhonen, Annie Tervo and Amara Berg finished fifth through seventh, to lead the team and help the Copper Kings to the team victory.
Houghton (29): 1, Nick Wilson, 17:34; 3, Seth Helman, 17:55; 4, Clayton Sayen, 18:08; 10, Leif Odegard, 19:09; 11, Nikolai Huotari, 19:10
Gogebic 55): 7, Tim Rowe, 18:34; 9, Isaiah Aili, 19:08; 12, Devon Byers, 19:32; 13T, Cade Mazzon, 19:40; 13T, Uriaha Aili, 19:40
Calumet (87): 2, Mitchell Delong, 17:46; 8, David Golas, 19:07; 21, Davin Lehto, 20:56; 23, Ilhan Onder, 21:06; 33, Tyler Johnson, 22:09
Chassell (111): 6, Hunter Rautiola, 18:24; 18, Karsten Kytta, 20:23; 22, Jake Holmes, 20:57; 24, Kurtis Kytta, 21:07;
Republic/Michigamme (141): 19, Jake Carlson, 20:34; 28, Andrew Olender, 21:49; 29, Marcus Vetangle, 21:55; 31, Alex Dupont, 21:58; 34, Chris Anbuehl, 22:11
Hancock (143): 16, Murphy Mallow, 19:58; 17, Eli McParlan, 20:10; 25, Jakob Vettori, 21:22; 40, Jake Lang, 23:44; 45, Matt Monette, 24:26
Jeffers (180): 20, Jackson Rocchi, 20:41; 30, Dominick Nettell, 21:57; 38, Brennan Larson, 22:55; 42, Aiden Kinnunen, 24:13; 50, Ted Ruohonen, 28:05
1. Calumet (56): 5, Greta Peterson, 23:46; 6, Annie Tervo, 23:48; 7, Amara Berg, 23:52; 14, Macy Riutta, 24:39; 24, Lexi Kangas, 26:41
2. Houghton (61): 1, Annabel Needham, 22:02; 9, Maddy Lehman, 24:03; 13, Megan Vlahos, 24:38; 16, Carly Ronis, 24:56; 22, Morgan Colling, 26:15
3. Chassell (87): 12, Jenna Pietila, 24:37; 15, Gwen Kangas, 24:43; 17, Maelene Warren, 25:31; 20, Meg Hokenson, 26:12:05; 23, Briah Maki, 26:34
4. Hancock (107): 11, Allyson Fenton, 24:35; 18, Makema Nuttall, 25:35; 21, Greta Berg, 26:12:99; 28, Miranda McClellan, 27:30; 29, Annie Miller, 27:36
5. West Iron County (143): 3, Taylor Clarke, 23:16; 32, Kalie Dennis, 28:42; 34, Piper Passamani, 29:19; 25, Rudi Passamani, 29:27; 39, Olivia Rozine, 31:39
6. Gogebic (170): 10, Lily Wieringa, 24:13; 37, Liz Makela, 31:01; 40, Abby Ahonen, 31:41; 41, Evelyn Hokans, 31:43; 42, Jessica Hegblom, 32:15