FLAT ROCK — Marquette High School’s Lindsey Rudden has excelled in track and cross country throughout her prep career.
The senior harrier has earned her share of Upper Peninsula Division 1 titles in track, but hadn’t won at the U.P. Cross Country Finals prior to Saturday.
She was followed by Negaunee sophomore Clara Johnson (19:05.8), Westwood senior Katie Etelamaki (19:09.6), Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Mackenzie Kalchik (19:21.6) and Marquette senior Holly Blowers (19:27.4).
“It’s overdue,” said Rudden, who plans to run at Michigan State University next fall. “The second mile was real fast. We were pushing each other. It’s pretty humid, which made it hard to breathe. The course was pretty muddy in the first mile; otherwise it was pretty solid.”
The Marquette girls the team title won for the third consecutive year, edging Sault Ste. Marie 40-49. Negaunee placed third with 97 points, followed by Calumet 115 and Houghton 131.
“All the girls ran well in tough conditions,” said Marquette coach Dale Phillips. “I’m happy for Lindsey. This definitely takes a weight off her shoulders. This is a nice addition to her resume. Holly ran a nice race and I think Becci (McNamee) had a personal best. Our fifth and sixth girls (Chloe Henning and Samantha Borzick) also ran their personal bests, which was a big help.”
Johnson’s strategy was to stay with Rudden as long as she could.
“She (Rudden) is really good,” said Johnson. “I hung with her for nearly two miles. I didn’t have enough to stay with her all the way, but I thought it was worth a try. I thought Katie (Etelamaki) also ran real well. I’m glad I got to race with her all year. She was really closing the gap in the end.”
Kalchik ran a personal-best time, helping her move up a place from last year’s Finals.
“I didn’t want to go out too fast,” said Kalchik, who got sick after two miles. “I felt pretty rough, but just pushed through it. The girl from Marquette (Blowers) was coming up on me. It was hard. I felt good coming in here, knowing the competition. I had a better idea what to expect.”
This also marked a personal best for Blowers, who had hoped to break 19 minutes.
“This is not what I was hoping for, but we were working as a team,” she said. “I wanted to do it for the team. We have great girls on our team and great competition. I’m going to miss this so much.”
Sault Ste. Marie’s Megan Arbic placed sixth (19:32.2) and teammate Courtney Arbic took eighth (19:45.9).
“It went great,” said Sault coach Jim Martin. “Our top five girls ran lifetime bests by 20-30 seconds. They just went out and ran like they wanted to be on the podium. I’m real happy for them.”
Gladstone junior Leigha Woelffer, who was crowned champion a year ago, took 10th this time (20:19.8). Etelamaki also was seeking her second individual title after winning the Division 2 race in 2014.
Ishpeming was a repeat champion with 31 points. The Hematites were followed by Hancock at 49, Gogebic at 83, St. Ignace at 89 and Norway with 118 points.
“I’m pleased to see our boys and girls both win,” said Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett. “This is only the fourth time the Ishpeming girls were U.P. champions. It happened in 1979 and ‘80 and now last year and this year, and our boys were pretty dominant.”
Ishpeming junior Khora Swanson earned top individual honors at 20:56.2, followed by Hancock’s Taylor Pertile (21:15.2), teammate Mariah Bertucci (21:44), Gogebic’s Melissa Wanink (21:45.4) and Hancock’s Madisyn Wright (21:46.4).
“I’m pleased with my time,” said Swanson. “I just worked hard today. We had to get our points by catching people in front of us. I’m just happy we won as a team.”
Chassell edged Munising 67-69 for its second straight Division crown, followed by Cedarville at 92, Dollar Bay at 105 and Brimley at 114.
“Sticking to the basics and believing in themselves were the keys to our victory,” said Chassell coach Marco Guidotti. “They were up to the challenge. They really like competing in the West-PAC (West Peninsula Athletic Conference). Competition in our conference is strong year in and year out.”
Newberry senior Natalie Beaulieu won the Final for the second straight time in a school-record 19:24.5. She was followed by Chassell senior Shitaye Sam (19:46.6), Munising sophomore Alyssa Webber (19:57.4), Cedarville’s Emma Bohn (20:55.7) and Brimley’s Lauren Halvorsen (21:30).
“I made my move at the mile mark and started to get some separation,” said Beaulieu, who ran the first mile in 5:51. “I was a little concerned at first because I thought I may have gone out too fast. But I knew where I needed to go, and the hills were then my only concern. I just tried to stay in my pace.”
The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Lindsey Rudden (left) runs stride for stride with Negaunee’s Clara Johnson before breaking away for the Division 1 championship. (Middle) Ishpeming’s Khora Swanson sprints the stretch in first place in leading the Hematites to their second straight title. (Below) Newberry’s Natalie Beaulieu won her second straight individual title in Division 3, while Chassell’s Shitaye Sam led her team to its second straight team championship. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)
BROOKLYN — Emily Tomes of Grand Rapids Catholic Central might be the first MHSAA cross country champion to go all season without winning a meet until it mattered the most.
There are two good reasons for that.
First, she runs in the Grand Rapids area, which is a hotbed for high school cross country. Her biggest league rival, Selma Anderson of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, was the runner-up in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final on Saturday.
Second, she was adjusting all season to a significant change in her training volume.
As a result, she had five second-place finishes in nine races and didn’t run faster than 18:25.5 until her conference and Regional meets.
“I ramped up my miles, so my legs felt tired for a lot of my races,” Tomes said. “So, that’s why I recently started running sub-18. My legs started to get used to the mileage. I was just trying to wait until this meet. This is when I was going to try to run my best.”
Tomes was the Division 2 champion, running a time of 17:31.4 on a Michigan International Speedway course that yielded fast times all day.
She won a kick down the stretch against St. Joseph senior Gail Vaikutis, who took second in 17:33.6.
“I feel like I do rely on my kick quite a bit, but I just knew it could help me pass those girls and it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward, ” Tomes said. “I have a couple postseason meets, so I’m really looking forward to those.”
It was anyone’s race when a pack of five runners reached the two-mile mark within one second of one another. It was a two-runner race coming down the straightaway, with Tomes passing Vaikutis in the final tenth of a mile.
“I don’t normally run in packs,” Tomes said. “This season kind of started off slower for me, so I wasn’t used to racing with these girls. I know they know how to run really fast. If I could just let them carry me along, it would help me out.”
Grand Rapids Christian won the team championship with a score of 112 points. Last season’s champion Otsego was second with 131.
The Eagles won their seventh MHSAA championship and first since 2014.
Senior Natalie VanOtteren, who defeated Tomes by 17 seconds at Regionals, led Grand Rapids Christian by placing fifth in 17:58.2. Sophomore Lilah Poel was 20th, sophomore Ellie Scholma 30th, senior Payton Holtz 31st and senior Naomi Nelson 65th for the Eagles.
PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Emily Tomes, left, breaks away from St. Joseph's Gail Vaikutis during the closing stretch of the Division 2 Final. (Middle) Natalie VanOtteren leads Grand Rapids Christian's team title run with a fifth-place finish. (Photos by Dave McCauley/RunMichigan.com.)