Newberry Claims Close Race in UPD3

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 31, 2015

KINGSFORD — Prior to Saturday, the Newberry girls track program had gone 24 years without an Upper Peninsula championship.

The Indians, competing in Class C at that time, ended that drought by edging Brimley 64-58 for their first Division 3 title. Ontonagon and Lake Linden-Hubbell tied for third with 48 points apiece.

Newberry junior Natalie Beaulieu won the 800-meter run in a school-record 2 minutes, 26.63 seconds and the 1,600 (5:23.45), and was runner-up in the 3,200 (12:09.09).

“I gave it my all in the 800 and 1,600,” said Beaulieu, who won the U.P. Division 2 title in the 3,200 last year. “I really focused on those races. When I heard that I had a 1:10 in the first lap of the 800, I felt I had a chance. I was really tired in the 3,200. It still went okay, but I didn’t have much left. I’m happy overall.”

Newberry’s Taylor Bryant won the 100 in 13.6 seconds, edging Stephenson’s Haley Truitt by one hundredth of a second, and placed fourth in the 300 hurdles (50.04). Bridget Stoetzer took second in the 400 (1:03.42) and fifth in the 800 (2:34.67).

Cedarville sophomore Emma Bohn took first in the 3,200 in a U.P. and school-record 11:49.16, topping the previous U.P. meet record (11:51.06), set by Erica Johnson of North Dickinson in 2011.

“My goal was to stay with Natalie as long as I could (in the 3,200),” said Bohn. “The pace was pretty good for me, and I passed her in the sixth lap. I thought about passing her a few times before that, but I wasn’t sure it would work out. You try to pace yourself for the whole meet, although that can be a pretty big challenge. I felt good today and ended up running two of my best times. The weather was perfect.”

Bohn placed second in the 1,600 (5:30.3) and third in the 800 (2:32.11).

Brimley’s runner-up finish was unexpected, according to coach Joyel Hyrvainen.

“This is a nice surprise for us, especially after placing extremely low at the (Superior) Dome at the beginning of the season,” she said. “Our weight events gave us some big points, and our hurdler (Kerri Chartrand) is a big part of our sprint relays. I’m very proud of the effort our girls gave today.”

Brimley junior Alyssa Hyrvaninen captured shot put at 35 feet, six inches and discus with a season-best toss of 104-8. Teammate Anne Archambeau placed second in shot (35-4) and third in disc (97-8).

“I just tried to stay relaxed,” said Alyssa. “I was pretty nervous before the meet. I just prayed about it and calmed down. I had good speed in the circle today. I’m more motivated now. I’m going to work hard at it all summer. This was one of the colder meets this year. I’m pleased with my distances, considering.”

Chartrand was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (48.77) and helped the Bays place third in the 400 relay.

Ontonagon junior Paige Blake won the 400 in a personal-best 1:03.1 and long jump (14-11¾), took fourth in the 200 (28.32) and fifth in the 100 (13.68). Classmate Lori Wardynski was runner-up in 100 hurdles (16.89) and third in the 300 (48.8).

“I wanted to get the school record in the 400,” said Blake. “I came up short today, but still have another year. Having so much competition here really helped me today. The Lake Linden girls are good competition, which really helps push me to the times I’m getting. It’s not always about yourself. I couldn’t do it without them. Having Lori here also helps. We push each other in practice. Otherwise, you’d never know what you could really do.”

Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Sarah Audette and Munising sophomore Michaela Peramaki both cleared a U.P. meet-record 10 feet, ¼ inch in pole vault, with Audette getting the victory on a tie-breaker. Their efforts topped the previous best (10-0) set by Lauren Marshall of Rapid River in 2007.

St. Ignace freshman Linnee Gustafson qualified for high jump only, but won that at 5-1.

“I cleared 5-2 last week (at the Eastern U.P. Conference meet at Pickford on May 21). Our school record is 5-2½. I’ve attempted 5-3, but it hasn’t worked out for me yet. I mostly had to keep telling myself that I can do it. I went for 5-3 again today. I was able to get over the bar, but I kept hitting it on my way down.

“I really don’t think this is different from any other meet. There’s just more competition here.” 

Bessemer’s Valerie Rowe was a double winner, taking the 100 hurdles (16.51) and 300 (48.09). She added a second in the 200 (28.1) and third in pole vault (9-0).

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Red Devils Impress as Ironwood Honors Record-Setter with Jim LaBlonde Invitational

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 20, 2024

IRONWOOD — The Ironwood track & field teams provided themselves with an opportunity to do a victory lap on a very special Saturday earlier this month.

Upper PeninsulaBoth teams were crowned champions at the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational on May 11 on their 350-meter track during a sunny and mild afternoon.

The Ironwood girls scored 126 points, followed by Hurley, Wis., with 43, Ontonagon 37 and Watersmeet with 13. Ironwood’s boys collected 100 points, followed by Hurley at 84, Ontonagon 32 and Watersmeet with seven in a meet held in honor of the former Luther L. Wright High School star athlete who passed away due to an aneurysm on March 31, 2019.

LaBlonde, who was recently inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, was an all-Upper Peninsula football player and still holds school records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes from his senior year in 1997.

“This is very special to me personally,” Ironwood coach Cecilia Aho said. “Jim was a great person and athlete. I came to Ironwood from Argentina in December 2003 and know the family very well. I had some good conversations with Jim before he passed. This is a great tribute to him. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We had perfect weather and the kids from all four schools were smiling and having fun.

“Jim was well known in the community, not only as a coach, but as a parent. He was a phenomenal runner and football player.”

LaBlonde played football for three years at Wisconsin-LaCrosse and was on the school’s track team for a year while earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2003.

He was a middle school teacher and coach in the Howard-Suamico District near Green Bay, Wis., at the time of his passing.

“He always asked about what was going on in Ironwood and was a good leader,” Aho said. “He would never turn his back on you when you asked him a question. The kids loved him. I wish I would have had a chance to work with him.”

The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. Senior Aubrey Smith topped a field of four Ironwood runners in the 1600-meter run in 5 minutes, 55.69 seconds, followed by freshman Iyla Lagalo (6:54.08) and sophomore Aubrey Balduc (7:21.16).

Smith also won the 300 hurdles at 52.43, more than six seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

“It was nice to have everyone here,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have a home meet, especially on a Saturday. I think it’s a fun meet. It’s nice to know everyone here. I think this gives me a little momentum going into our remaining meets.”

Sophomore Emma Wardon was also a double winner for the Red Devils, taking shot put (32-11) and discus (87-0).

Ironwood sophomore Logan Holm took the 110 hurdles (20.17) and 300s (48.05), and Hurley had a triple-winner in junior Jeremiah Wallis, who captured the 100 (12.0), 200 (24.52) and long jump (17-3).

Watersmeet junior Thomas Carson won the 400 (54.06), five days after setting the school record (52.31) while placing second in the Welker Invitational at Ashland, Wis. (52.31).

“I strained my hamstring in Ashland,” he said. “It was a little windy up by the big lake (Superior) and there were a lot of good runners up there. I’m probably about 80-90 (percent), but everything went okay. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo it. This is a nice little meet, especially for a Saturday.”

Ontonagon sophomore Violet Amos took the 200 (28.26) and 400 (1:02.03) and was runner-up to Hurley senior Jaana Aukee on a lean (13.65) in the 100.

“I’ve been in the 27s in the 200, but I’m very happy with my time in the 400” Amos said. “This being a little smaller track was probably a factor because the curves are a little tighter. I prefer to run a 400-meter track, although I like the running surface and competition.

“It’s always fun to come here. Our track is getting resurfaced. I’m looking forward to running on it the next couple years.”

Ontonagon coach Brian Amos said he also enjoys going to Ironwood.

“Ironwood runs a nice meet, and we get a chance to see Hurley,” he added. “It’s always nice to run against somebody different.”

John VrancicJohn Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS (Top) Ribbons and medals are set out to be awarded during the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational at Ironwood. (Middle) The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. (Photos provided by the Ironwood Red Devil Booster Club.)