MARQUETTE — On Sept. 13, Escanaba and Negaunee collided in a dual meet in Escanaba. The Eskymos and Miners tied 4-4.
Flash forward 21 days and both squads once again found themselves neck and neck on the court. With a Finals title on the line, the Eskymos and Miners, similar to their first meeting, finished tied for the Upper Peninsula Division 1 championship Wednesday at Marquette High School.
The squads were crowned co-champions after each accumulating 16 points.
Ishpeming Westwood finished in third place with 14 points, Marquette finished fourth with four points, Gladstone and Kingsford tied for fifth with two apiece and Menominee finished seventh with one point.
For Escanaba, Wednesday was its first share of a team Finals championship since 2011.
“It’s a great ending,” Escanaba coach Chris Ogren said. “We had two really good teams this year. When we played head-to-head we were as even as it gets. On the last day of the year with everybody here, we were as even as it gets. It’s perfectly fitting. It feels great.”
For the Miners, it was their sixth claim of a Finals title since 2015.
“This is probably one of our most rewarding titles that we've had in any particular year,” Miners coach Kyle Saari said. “These girls battled through an awful lot of adversity this season. Some had injuries, and just a variety of different things kind of popped up. Coming into today we knew we needed a lot of things to go right to have a chance. Every single thing we needed … they answered the bell and it happened.”
In No. 1 singles action, the Eskymos claimed three critical points behind the efforts of Sophie Derkos. The senior knocked off the reigning No. 2 singles champion, Gladstone’s Tia Schone, 6-0, 6-1 in semifinal action. In the final, Derkos collided with Negaunee’s Aubrey Johnson, who was runner-up to Schone in No. 2 singles action in 2022. The Esky senior earned a decisive 6-1, 6-0 win to finish undefeated at 18-0 and claim her second-straight individual Finals title in the process.
The Miners earned two individual titles Wednesday. Rheana Nelson claimed hers at No. 3 singles, besting Gladstone’s Alexis Burch in quarterfinal action 6-0, 6-0, Westwood’s Emersyn Nelson 6-1, 6-3, in the semi and earning a 6-2, 7-5 win over Escanaba’s Sam Korpi to clinch. Nelson finished the season with a record of 18-1.
Madalynn Peters, the top-seeded competitor at No. 4 singles, toppled Westwood’s Morgan Schnieder 6-1, 6-3, in semifinal action and earned a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Escanaba’s Maggie Martin in the final.
Escanaba made up ground on Negaunee with a pair of championship victories in doubles play.
In No. 1 doubles action, the tandem of Natalie Williams and Sam Manninen first defeated Kingsford’s Audrey Veale and Libby Vross 6-2, 6-4. In the final, Williams and Manninen vanquished Westwood’s Isabelle Marta and Alyssa Couveau 6-4, 6-3 to finish their senior seasons with a perfect record of 15-0.
Williams and Manninen weren’t the only Eskymos pairing to find success Wednesday and in 2023. Escanaba’s No. 4 doubles pairing of juniors Danni Hughes and Carly Bowden bested Marquette’s Eva Sjoholm and Mylee Muscoe 6-0, 6-2, before toppling Westwood’s Taylor Jackovich and Kaya Etelmaki 6-4, 6-1 in the championship match to finish their season at 19-0.
Negaunee claimed the No. 3 doubles title. The tandem of Autumn Ring and Alyssa Borlace – the latter subbing in at the last minute Wednesday – ran the table by defeating Kingsford’s Addisyn Kreigl and Eden Janousek 6-1, 6-1, in quarterfinal action, top-seeded Laura Barsch and Aubree Blackburn (Marquette) 7-5, 6-0, and Escanaba’s Sophie Wagner and Val Royer 2-6, 6-0, 6-1, in the final.
Westwood’s Samantha Ruby earned the crown in No. 2 singles by defeating Kingsford’s Allette Shanks 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinal, knocking off Gladstone’s Addie Thombley 7-6, 6-3, in their semifinal and besting top-seeded Lilliana Saunders from Negaunee 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, to clinch.
The Patriots also claimed a title in No. 2 doubles action. The pairing of Nolia Dawson and Kaylin Doney knocked off Menominee’s Isabelle Bentley and Isabelle Busher 6-3, 6-0 in a quarterfinal, defeated Escanaba’s Sonya Maki and Molly Smale 6-2, 7-6 (2) in the semifinals and vanquished Negaunee’s Olivia Lunseth and Sage Juntti in a thrilling 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5) championship match.
PHOTOS (Top) Escanaba senior Sophie Derkos returns a volley during her semifinal match with Gladstone’s Tia Schone on Wednesday. (Middle) Negaunee junior Aubrey Johnson tracks a shot during her semifinal against Westwood’s Lexi Olson. (Photos by Mitch Vosburg.)
Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.
Below is this week's segment – Tennis Spin - Listen
Today’s "You Make the Call" takes us to the tennis court.
We’re in the middle of a volley when I hit a shot with a ton of spin on it. It goes over the net, bounces and then spins back over the net towards me, without being hit by my opponent.
What’s the call?
My opponent never hit the ball, so I win the point. The same rule applies if it’s wind, not spin, blowing the ball back over the net.
My opponent could have returned my shot, even if they had to reach over the net to do so, as long as they didn’t touch the net while returning. If my opponent hits the net in the process of returning my shot, it’s also my point.
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen