Sault, Hancock, Chassell Girls Prevail

By John Vrancic
Special for

October 21, 2018

MUNISING — It was a historic day for Sault Ste. Marie’s cross country program Saturday as its girls team completed a sweep of the Upper Peninsula Division 1 titles 90 minutes after the boys started the championship run at Pictured Rocks Golf Course.

The Sault girls, placing three in the top 10 individuals, used their depth to win for the second time in three years with 56 points. Last year’s champion Marquette edged Houghton on a tie-breaker for runner-up honors as both teams scored 66 points.

“This is one for the record books,” said Sault coach Jim Martin. “This is the first time we won both in the same year.

“We had six girls who were hurt at some point of the season, but they kept getting better. We have a great coaching staff and new AD (athletic director) who’s doing an excellent job. This is a great day for our program.”

Negaunee junior Emily Paupore retained her championship, covering the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, 58.5 seconds on a cold, windy and blustery day.

“My original plan was to run this in about 18:40, but once we got here I kind of knew that wasn’t going to happen,” she said. “I was really excited to run. The weather didn’t really bother me. Once I got up the (last) hill, I saw my time and decided I wanted to go under 20.

“My dad and mom are always there to support me, and today my whole family was here to cheer me on.”

Marquette junior Ericka Asmus was runner-up at 20:30.5, followed by Houghton senior Anabel Needham (20:34.8), Ishpeming Westwood senior and last year’s D-2 champion Tessa Leece (20:40.1) and Houghton freshman Maria Velat (20:46.6).

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Division 2

Hancock grabbed six of the top 12 spots to gain its first D-2 championship in five years with 26 points.

The Bulldogs were followed by 2017 champion St. Ignace with 62 and Munising at 79.

“The tightness among our girls was huge,” said Hancock coach Matt Dennis. “We were pack runners all year, and it was just a question of how close to the front we would be. 

"The teams were very competitive in our area. We had great competition from Houghton and Chassell all year, which only made us better.”

St. Ignace senior Elizabeth Becker earned her first individual title in 20:46, followed by Munising senior Madeleine Peramaki (21:09), Ironwood senior Emily Carey (21:17.9), Ishpeming freshman Abby Racine (21:36.2) and Hancock freshman Kalli Chynoweth (21:37.3).

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Division 3

Eben Junction Superior Central junior Danika Walters gained her D-3 crown at 20:37.9. 

She was followed by Rock Mid-Peninsula sophomore and 2017 champion Daisy Englund (20:57.5), Chassell senior Lela Rautiola (21:32.8), Mid-Pen freshman Landry Koski (21:43.8) and Chassell freshman Paige Sleeman (21:49.7).

"I took a little more conservative approach today and tried to keep up with the Chassell girl (Rautiola),” said Walters. “I put on a surge at the mile mark and kept that pace.

“It basically feels great to be a U.P. champion, although it hasn’t quite set in yet. I took third at Norway last week, and I think it motivated me.”

Chassell, which grabbed five of the top eight places, retained its title with 25 points. The Panthers were followed by Cedarville with 84 and Mid-Pen with 95.

“Many of our girls have been running together for five years,” said Chassell coach Marco Guidotti. “This is a real cohesive unit. Our leadership is really infectious.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Negaunee's Emily Paupore (116) leads the pack in Division 1 with Sault Ste. Marie's Anna Hildebrand and Haleigh Knowles (131) following close behind. (Middle) Hancock's Kalli Chynoweth (142) and Ellie Sturos (147) led their team to the Division 2 title. (Below) Eben Junction Superior Central's Danika Walters (268) leads the Division 3 race with Chassell’s Lela Rautiola (263) and Rock Mid-Peninsula's Daisy Englund (355) pushing the pace. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click for more at

Grand Rapids Speedsters Dominate Division 2 Girls Cross Country Final

November 4, 2023

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.

Natalie VanOtteren leads Grand Rapids Christian's team title run with a fifth-place finish.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.

Click for full results.

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/