Copper Country Distance Stars Cap Senior Seasons with Fast Finals Finishes

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 13, 2022

CALUMET — It was quite a workout for Dollar Bay’s Nik Thomas and Houghton’s Eric Weiss whenever they met in area track meets this season.

A prime example was on display during the Houghton County Invitational on May 13 at Houghton when both seniors were clocked under 10 minutes in the 3,200-meter run.

Thomas won in a school-record 9:54.91, and Weiss was runner-up at 9:56.47.

Thomas also set a school record at that time in the 1,600 while winning in 4:26.58. Weiss was clocked at a personal-best 4:30.71.

“Breaking 10 minutes in the 3,200 was a huge accomplishment.” Thomas said after winning four races in the Division 3 Regional at Lake Linden on May 18. “I was really proud of that. Kolson Kytta (last year’s UPD3 1,600 and 3,200 champ and now assistant track coach at Chassell) called out my splits at Houghton, and I really appreciate that. What’s neat is every time I ran a PR, I set a school record.”

Thomas then established Upper Peninsula D3 Finals records June 4 in the 1,600 (4:25.91) – which topped his previous school record – and 3,200 (10:05.59).

He also won the 800 (2:01.27) at the U.P. Finals in Kingsford.

Weiss was Division 1 runner-up in the 800 (2:03.18) and 3,200 (10:07.12) and third in the 1,600 (4:37.2) at the Finals.

Thomas also set the school record in the 800 (1:59.92) in the Copper Country Invitational in Houghton on May 16 and added three victories in the Copper Mountain Conference meet at Wakefield on May 24.

“Nik is crazy fast,” said Weiss, who won the 3,200 in a personal-best 9:49 at the Ontonagon Invitational May 6. “I was very happy with running a 4:30 in the Houghton County Invitational. That was also a great race when I got my PR at Ontonagon. I definitely felt good that day.”

Houghton trackAlso in the mix was Ewen-Trout Creek senior Jonah Nordine, who was the UPD3 Finals runner-up in the 800 (2:06.39), 1,600 (4:40.3) and 3,200 (10:26.51).

Weiss, who took the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference title in the 1,600 (4:37.44) and 3,200 (10:21.03) on May 31 at Calumet, became interested in distance running as a freshman.

“I went out for cross country and started enjoying it,” said Weiss, who plans to continue his running career this fall at North Dakota State University in Grand Forks. “I’ve also done cross country skiing and a little bit of running in the winter.”

Thomas, who temporarily battled paralysis during his sophomore year, says he was proud to represent his school.

“I got into such a zone,” said Thomas, who also set two meet records in the Houghton County and Copper Country Invitationals. “There were times when I lost my vision. While I was paralyzed I never thought this would be possible, but everybody was so supportive.

“Going under two minutes in the 800 was unbelievable. We’re such a small school. Everybody knows everybody. I don’t think you’ll find this kind of experience anywhere else.”

John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS (Top) Dollar Bay’s Nik Thomas leads the pack near the end of the first lap of the UPD3 800 race at the June 4 Finals at Kingsford. (Middle) Houghton's Eric Weiss runs a straightaway during the UPD1 3,200 championship race. (Photos by Cara Kamps/Run Michigan.) 

Performance of the Week: Pickford's David Kozisek

June 9, 2023

David KozisekDavid Kozisek ♦ Pickford
Senior ♦ Track & Field

Kozisek was an exchange student from Czech Republic this school year, and when he returns home this week he'll do so having accomplished a rare feat in MHSAA track & field history. On Saturday he became the ninth male athlete to win four individual events at a Finals, taking first in the 110 hurdles (15.40), 300 hurdles (41.39), high jump (6-3) and long jump (20-10) in helping Pickford to the Upper Peninsula Division 2 team championship. 

After also playing football and basketball for the Panthers, Kozisek joined the track & field team this spring with plenty of knowledge having competed in that sport over the last six years in his home country. He was incredibly close to leaving an even larger historical imprint last weekend; Kozisek's long jump and high jump both were just one inch off tying UPD2 Finals records, and his 110 time missed that meet record by only six hundredths of a second. He was the first to win four boys events with the combination of two hurdles races and two jumps, and the second four-time individual winner joining Joe Baker, who in 1974 became the first from any school to win four Finals events. 



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2022-23 Honorees

June 1: Helena McLellan, Northville soccer - Report
May 25:
Mitchel Luck, Linden lacrosse - Report
May 18:
Ahava Le Febre, Holland tennis - Report
May 11:
Gracie Maloney, Macomb Dakota softball - Report
May 4:
Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron track & field - Report
April 27:
Owen Patton, Vestaburg track & field - Report
April 20:
Lilly Damm, Millington softball - Report
April 13:
Larissa Huffman, Mackinaw City track & field - Report
April 6:
Darius Acuff, Detroit Cass Tech basketball - Report
March 23:
Regan Finkbeiner, Hemlock basketball - Report
March 16:
Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTOS courtesy of 2BU Photography.