Hancock, Munising Reign Again, While Marquette Wins Matchup of Rivals

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

October 22, 2022

FLAT ROCK — There was a feeling the race for the Upper Peninsula Division 1 girls championship would be a close one here Saturday.

That’s exactly how it played out as Marquette edged two-time reigning champion Houghton 35-37. Third-place Sault Ste. Marie scored 104 points.

“The girls did fantastic,” said Marquette coach Derek Marr. “I’m impressed with the way they came through. We were down slightly after two miles, then they really picked it up. I applaud the Houghton girls for their effort. They really went after it.”

Houghton freshman Tessa Rautiola won the 3.1-mile race in 20 minutes, 11 hundredths of a second. She was followed by Sault senior Cassandra Gallagher (20:07.7) and Marquette freshman Ella Fure (20:13.69).

“I just wanted to enjoy the last race of the season,” said Rautiola. “I’m happy with how everything went. We’re pretty happy with our performance. I think this will just make us work harder next year.”

Ishpeming's Lola Korpi smiles after she finishes the Division 2 Final. Gallagher achieved a personal record by one second.

“I’m very happy with that,” she said. “I’m also happy with how our team did. I didn’t want to go out too hard today. I was in 10th place at the mile mark. This was my last high school cross country race and I really wanted to give it my all. I tried to catch Tessa, but she ran a real good race. We had nice weather. There were a lot of hills out there, but I liked the course.”

Fure said this was a learning experience for her.

“I learned to work with our team and trust in myself,” she added. “I tried to spread out my energy, which takes a lot of practice. My pacing didn’t go as well in the past. We had been running on flatter courses the last couple weeks to save it for the Finals. We had a few hills out there today, and I had to get used to that all over again. I appreciate all the support I received from our team and coaches.”

Marquette placed the third, fourth, seventh, 10th and 13th placers to edge Houghton, which had finishers in first, fifth, eighth, 11th and 14th. Sophomore Monet Argeropoulos followed Fure in fourth, with junior Abby Harma crossing the line seventh for Marquette. Sophomore Lily Ross was fifth for Houghton, and junior Ayla Miller was eighth.

Click for full results.

Division 2

Hancock repeated as Division 2 champion with 23 points, followed by Ishpeming with 40 and Powers North Central at 68.

Ishpeming junior Lola Korpi retained her individual title in 20:18.81, followed by Manistique freshman Maya Carlson (21:26.38) and Bessemer (Gogebic) senior Natalie Stone (21:31.6).

Hancock's Ella Keranen (138), Rayna Towles (143), and Maylie Kilpela (140) run together during the Division 2 Final.“That’s awesome,” said Korpi, who had been battling a chest cold. “I was going for time. I’m still battling a chest cold and struggled a little with my breathing.

“We had a full team for the first time this year. I’m so happy the girls decided to run. Hancock was tough to beat. There was a little more pressure trying to defend my title, but it’s really nice to bring something back to our school.”

Carlson was also happy with the way everything fell into place.

“We had only four runners today, but still did good as a team,” she said. “I thought I had a chance to win it, but then I just wanted to stay in second place and finish with her (Stone). I think this was my best race of the year. I got stronger as the race went on. I did some races during the summer, and that helped a lot.”

Hancock surged on the strength of four top-10 individual placers – sophomore Ella Keranen in fifth, senior Maylie Kilpela in sixth, sophomore Rayna Towles in seventh and senior Liana Berg in ninth.

Click for full results.

Division 3

Munising captured its third consecutive title with 26 points, followed by Eben Junction Superior Central at 71 and Stephenson with 97.

“We knew what we wanted to do this season and came out of here with a huge win,” said Munising coach Mark Kinnunen. “This just shows what hard work and leadership can do for you, and our senior leadership was as strong as it ever was.

Competitors break away from the start during the Division 3 Final.“Competing with Superior Central is awesome. It’s fun having the two schools do so well. We went from having just one runner to earning three straight U.P. titles. I ran for Fran (former coach DesArmo) and learned a lot from him. It’s an exciting time to be coaching this team.”

Newberry freshman Samantha Taylor earned the top individual honor in 20:06.34, and junior teammate and 2021 champion Kaylen Clark was runner-up in a season-best 20:18.09.

“I’m obviously disappointed I didn’t win, but happy for Sam. She had an amazing season,” said Clark. I’m happy with the progress I made this year. We should be able to compete as a team next year, which will make it more fun. I gave it everything I had. I plan on training real hard. This just makes me hungrier for it.”

Munising senior Monique Brisson placed third (21:36.09), followed by classmate Hattie Cota (21:54.33).

“I think it’s pretty cool the two Alger County schools finished on top,” Brisson said. “We know each other pretty well. I’m proud of our team and definitely happy for them. It’s a pretty hard course, but I’m obviously capable of better. I’m happy for Hattie. She finished strong.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Houghton's freshman Tessa Rautiola (47) and sophomore teammate Lily Ross (48), and Marquette freshman Ella Fure (83) and sophomore Monet Argeropoulos (81) run together during the Division 1 race. (2) Ishpeming's Lola Korpi smiles after she finishes the Division 2 Final. (3) Hancock's Ella Keranen (138), Rayna Towles (143), and Maylie Kilpela (140) run together during the Division 2 Final. (4) Competitors break away from the start during the Division 3 Final. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)

Back from Broken Foot, Grandville's Arnsman Finishes as State's Top Senior

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

November 18, 2022

GRANDVILLE – Almost a year ago, Allie Arnsman didn’t know whether she would ever be able to run competitively again. 

West MichiganOver the last week, the Grandville senior was named Ms. Cross Country by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association while also establishing a school record. 

Arnsman suffered a broken right foot during last year’s cross country season that required surgery.

“They told me there was a small possibility of even being able to run again,” Arnsman said. “It was very scary going into the surgery thinking that there was a 90-percent chance that I wouldn’t be able to run, but I had the doctors and the physical therapists that were able to get me back.”

Arnsman sustained the injury during the third meet of her junior season when she stepped in a hole on the course.

Originally, doctors didn’t think the injury was serious.

“They kept telling us it was just a sprain, and after six weeks it would be healed,” said Arnsman, who wore a boot on her right foot.

Arnsman returned to run in the final three races of last year, and finished 17th overall in the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

However, she still felt uncertain that her foot was completely healed.

“It was really painful when I ran and I thought something was still wrong, but I wanted to finish out my junior year and I was grateful that I did,” Arnsman said. “Right after the state meet I had an MRI, and it revealed that it was broken.”

Arnsman missed the track & field season due to her recovery after surgery. She began running again in late spring and then returned in August for her senior year.

Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. “It was a tough injury for her to overcome, but she came back and we started talking about goals for the season,” Grandville girls cross country coach Rachael Steil said. “I told her that I thought she had the potential to finish in the top five (at the Finals) and we joked about her winning.

“She had so much untapped potential, and she did so well on little mileage. She doesn’t realize how talented she is, but with the hard work she put in I felt like it was going to be a really good season.”

Arnsman ran well throughout the season and continued to drop her times.

At the Finals, she exceeded her own expectations by placing runner-up in Division 1 behind West Ottawa’s Helen Sachs. 

Arnsman finished with a time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds at Michigan International Speedway.

“I was just trying to go out with the front pack, and I wanted to stick up close and then close in in the last mile,” she said. “It was tough to catch her because she went out very fast, and I wasn't used to that pace. The weather conditions weren't great, and I just couldn't get up there.”

Still, Arnsman was ecstatic about her finish.

“I was really excited,” she said. “Coming into the season I did not think I could even be top three and I was hoping for a top 15, so placing second was amazing. It was a dream.”

Arnsman got more good news after the race as she was the top senior in all divisions and was named Ms. Cross Country.

“When they pulled me aside in the room I had the biggest smile on my face,” Arnsman said. “I knew going in that it was a possibility, but of course I didn't know right away. I was so excited.”

A week later, Arnsman ran in the MITCA Meet of Champions and became the fastest girl in Grandville school history when she finished second with a time of 17 minutes flat.

The previous record of 17:20 was set by Madison Troy in 2015.

“She was drastically improving through the season, and I knew the possibilities were endless for her,” Steil said. “She has great form, and she’s strong from all the weight training she did. She put all the little pieces together, and they came together at the right time.”

Arnsman will run for Grand Valley State next year, but it’s been a journey that was somewhat unexpected after growing up as an accomplished soccer player.

She stopped playing soccer after her sophomore year to focus on running.

“I grew up in soccer, so it was scary going into a new sport and giving up something that I loved,” Arnsman said. “It was a different sport and a whole new environment that I wasn’t used to, but I’m grateful that I was able to have the success I did. ... I never thought about running in college. I thought I would be playing college soccer.”

Arnsman, who ended her cross country career as a three-time Finals qualifier, will run indoor track & field this winter before running outdoor in the spring with her team.

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Grandville’s Allie Arnsman runs toward the finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final on Nov. 5. (Middle) Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)