Sophomore Pair Clinch 1st Finals Titles, Korpi Wins 3rd to Cap Ishpeming Career

By John Vrancic
Special for

October 21, 2023

FLAT ROCK — Pickford’s Talya Schreiber is a first-year high school cross country runner.

The Pickford sophomore placed an exclamation point at the end of her season, setting the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Finals record by covering the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 49.2 seconds here Saturday.

“That’s nine seconds off my PR (personal record),” she said. “I wanted to go out hard because it gave me a cushion to work with.

“This has definitely been a real good learning experience. I dealt with some illness last summer (2022). I needed a lot of rest and had to get back into running very slowly. It’s disappointing I didn’t get to do anything in my freshman year, but I’m definitely happy to be back.”

Chassell was crowned champion for the first time in four years by edging Newberry 52-54. Third-place Stephenson scored 58 points.

“The girls are really excited,” Chassell coach Marco Guidotti said. “I’m so happy for them. Stephenson beat us at Munising (Sept. 26) and kept an eye on the times Newberry was running. We knew it’d be tough. I’m so proud of the girls for believing in themselves. When you see a team running times like that, every place counts.

“The girls really started to find their groove late in the season. Winning the Copper Mountain Conference really motivated us, and Ironwood put on a great meet over there. We have a real strong community that supports the school and runners.”

Ishpeming's Lola Korpi runs to her third straight U.P. Division 2 championship. Newberry grabbed the next three places, led by sophomore and runner-up Samantha Taylor (19:28.6), freshman Abby Taylor (19:48.6) and senior Kaylen Clark in a season-best 20:19.1, Dollar Bay senior Taryn Maki (21:06.3) and Chassell junior Lily Etelamaki (22:04.9).

“We put in lot of hard work during the week,” Etelamaki said. “We were definitely on a mission. Our area teams did real well. There’s a lot of trophies going back home. We were kind of in shock when we found out we won. We thought we’d be runner-up. We tried to run in a pack, and I think our depth helped us.”

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Division 2

Ishpeming senior Lola Korpi ran the fourth-best time in U.P. Division 2 Finals history at a personal-best 19:04.8, clinching her third individual championship in her final race for the Hematites.

“I ran about 20:18 here last year and was trying to beat that,” she said. “That was amazing. It feels like I’m on top of the world right now.

“I’m also proud of my sister. Laynie ran real well. I was thinking to myself ‘leave it all here.’ I’m not as sad as others because I know I’ll be running in college. Plus, I still have track to look forward to next spring.”

Hancock gained its third straight team title with 38 points, followed by Munising with 71 and Ironwood with 93.

The Bulldogs were led by juniors Ella Keranen in a personal-best 20:56.9 and Rayna Towles (21:06.3), who placed second and third, respectively.

Marquette’s Ella Fure runs with Houghton's Tessa Rautiola in Division 1. “I never broke 21 minutes before,” Keranen said. “It’s hard to run against the clock at the Finals. It can be a little nerve-wracking, but I was excited when I saw my time. Rayna and I ran together. It’s good to have someone to run with. We definitely ran as hard as we could. We wanted to win it for the third time for our senior Jolene Larson.”

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Division 1

Marquette, as expected, retained its D1 title by tying the UPD1 Finals scoring record with 23 points, followed by Houghton with 53 and Sault Ste. Marie with 92.

Led by sophomore individual champion Ella Fure, the team placed five in the top 11.

Fure was clocked at 19:24.6, followed by junior teammate Monet Argeropoulos in 19:30.2.

“I’m definitely happy. I was faster than in the GNC (Great Northern Conference) meet,” Fure said. “I was a little nervous about my time. I was running with Monet, and she told me to take off with a quarter-mile to go. I was about 17 seconds off my PR. The weather was nice. It was about the perfect temperature (near 50).

Argeropoulos was followed by Houghton junior Roman Peterlin (19:55.3) and sophomore Tessa Rautiola (19:55.5), and Marquette senior Abby Harma (19:58.5).

“Ella and I helped each other out,” Argeropoulos said. “I’m happy about my time and our team winning. Houghton did really well. We were really close last year. It’s really fun to see our whole team do well. It’s kind of a reward for the hard work we did.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Pickford's Talya Schreiber runs during the Division 3 U.P. Final at Farmhouse B & B in Gladstone on Saturday. She won the race. (Middle) Ishpeming's Lola Korpi runs to her third straight U.P. Division 2 championship. (Below) Marquette’s Ella Fure runs with Houghton's Tessa Rautiola in Division 1. (Photos by Jason Juno. Click for more from

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.

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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/