West Iron County Clinches with Win in Final Relay

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

June 6, 2021

KINGSFORD — The race for the Upper Peninsula Division 2 championship came down to the wire Saturday as West Iron County edged Ishpeming 108-104½ for its first title in eight years.

Bark River-Harris placed third with 80 points, followed by three-time reigning champion St. Ignace with 71.

“We kind of knew it’d be close,” said West Iron coach Kristi Berutti. “We had to change some relays to maximize our points.”

The Wykons secured the decision by winning the 1,600-meter relay in four minutes, 27.04 seconds. Ishpeming placed second at 4:39.92.

“It’s awesome to win it all, and we wouldn’t have done it without my sister Danica,” said senior Jordan Shamion. “She’s the one who pushed us over the edge.”

Ishpeming trackJordan won the 100-meter hurdles at 16.99 seconds, 300s in a personal-best 48.72, anchored the 1,600 relay and took second in shot put at 31 feet, eight inches.

“I stumbled on a hurdle and still got a PR, and I’m happy with second in shot,” she said.

Danica Shamion, a freshman, added victories in the 100 (13.07), 200 (27.35) and 400 (1:01.48).

“I think my starts have improved,” said Danica. “If you have a bad start, you have a bad race.”

West Iron’s Avery Bociek placed second in the 800 (2:40.08).

Ishpeming freshman Lola Korpi took the 800 (2:34.90), 1,600 (5:41.32) and 3,200 (12:26.93) and anchored the winning 3,200 relay (10:56.42).

Division 1 and 2 runners ran together in the open 3,200, and Korpi paced with eventual Division 1 champion Olivia Moffitt of Marquette and runner-up Ingrid Seagren from Houghton.

“Olivia did awesome. She’s a senior and she deserves it,” Korpi said. “I just wanted to separate from the girls behind me. Olivia was a quarter track ahead of me, and I knew I wasn’t going to catch her. She really surprised me. She and Ingrid were my competition.”

Teammate Rebekah Loman swept the weight events, taking shot (32-4¾) and discus (104-3).

West Iron County trackBR-H freshman Mckenzie Hoffmeyer captured long jump (15-5) and was runner-up in the 100 (13.38) and 200 (27.56).

Iron Mountain won the sprint relays and Chloe Maycroft the high jump (4-11), and Lexi Hagen won pole vault (8-6).

“Our third handoff (by Emma Ellis) went real well,” said Mountaineers junior Abbygayle Richer, who anchored the winning 800 relay (1:52.86). “That was our fastest time all year. The competition pushed us to do better. We knew we had to run well to beat Bark River-Harris.

“I’m just glad we had a chance to run this year. Last year we didn’t get to do this (because of COVID-19).”

The Mountaineers were clocked at 53.88 in the 400 relay.

BR-H was runner-up in the 400 relay (55.39) and 800 (1:53.48), and sophomore Hazel Conklin was second in the 300 hurdles (51.53).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: West Iron County’s Jordan Shamion celebrates her team’s finish in the 1,600 relay Saturday. (Middle) Ishpeming’s Lola Korpi leads the open 1,600. (Below) West Iron’s Danica Shamion, middle, crosses first in the 100. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click to see more at RunMichigan.com.)

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

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)