Freshman Distance Ace Impressing Again as Sault Gets on Track

By John Vrancic
Special for

April 14, 2023

SAULT STE. MARIE — Gabe Litzner made quite a first impression here April 7, dominating the 3,200-meter run at the Second Annual Yooper Invitational track & field meet.

Upper PeninsulaThe Sault Ste. Marie freshman was clocked at 10 minutes, 7.84 seconds in the 16-lap race on the 200-meter track inside Lake Superior State University’s Norris Center, more than a minute ahead of the field in his high school varsity debut.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” said Litzner, who was crowned Upper Peninsula Division 1 cross country champion last fall. “I wanted to take it somewhat easy because of all the turns. I didn’t want to injure myself. I’m surprised by my time. I was shooting for 10:20.”

Charlevoix squeezed past Kalkaska by half a point for the boys team title, with the Blue Devils finishing fourth. The Indian River Inland Lakes girls won with 100 points, five ahead of Sault Ste. Marie.

“I was a little nervous at first,” said Litzner. “I had a little bit of butterflies, but they tend to go away after you get started. This is a big step up from junior high track. I’ve definitely been able to build off what I did in cross country.”

Senior teammate Cody Aldridge was runner-up to Kalkaska junior Gavin Guggemos in the 1,600. Guggemos was clocked in 4:42.3 with Aldridge at 4:43.92.

“It wasn’t a PR (personal record), but it’s a good start to the season,” said Aldridge, who led until well into the final lap. “I just tried to do my best and see where I’m at and got a chance to see where the competition is at. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull it off. I hit a hurdle (near the inside lane) coming into the final straightaway, although I think he had me anyway. He got a PR, which is good for him. It feels like I have room for improvement.”

Sault senior Cassandra Gallagher placed second in the girls 3,200 (13:19.52), 11 seconds behind Cheboygan sophomore Samantha Harke.

“For the beginning of the season, I’m happy with that,” said Gallagher. “I thought it was more difficult to pace myself because we were on a smaller track. I had IT band syndrome and spent a lot of time in physical therapy this winter. I didn’t get to train as much as I wanted, but this was better than I expected.”

Gallagher won the 3,200 (13:27.84) and was runner-up in the 1,600 (6:19.7) in a triangular meet at Alpena on Tuesday.

The Sault girls won at Alpena with 66 points, followed by Traverse City Central with 34 and Alpena at 32.
Litzner won the boys 800 (2:13.45) and 1,600 (4:43.35), and Aldridge took the 3,200 (10:14.56) as the Blue Devils boys (34) finished third to Alpena (62) and the Trojans (41).

John VrancicJohn 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.

PHOTO Sault Ste. Marie’s Gabe Litzner leads the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final in the fall. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

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.