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One more look at U.P. Finals/The Red Line

June 7, 2012
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Ever had so many things to do that you got none of them done?

That's kind of what the first 90 minutes of the U.P. Track and Field Finals feels like in Kingsford. When you set foot on the infield, there's always three people to say hi to and five people to track down for a photo. I went down to the throwing area at least three times and never took a photo, looking for orange-and-black or purple-and-gold singlets and invariably seeing someone from Cedarville or Iron Mountain or Bark River-Harris warm up.

I walked to the girls' discus (which is 150 yards from the track but feels like it's in Norway) once to find a photo. Just as I determined they were still warming up, the national anthem started playing. After that, I booked it back to the track for the 110-meter hurdles.

Things settle down eventually, but an even harder task is to gather up the day's information and turn it into a series of coherent articles. Now that we've had some time to breathe, here's a selection of some of the day's crumbs.

1. Obviously, the star of the day locally Saturday was Dylan Kirkley of Ontonagon, who earned three U.P. championships, in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash. Kirkley took a place among local track greats Saturday and ended a long drought. He's the first local male athlete to win the 100-200-400 triple and the first to win the 400 at a U.P. Finals since Al D. of Keweenaw Academy did so in 1999. Among active high schools, John Sturos of Calumet is the most recent winner - he took the Class C 400 in 1997.

2. The longest active event droughts now date back to 2008, the last time there was a local winner of either gender in the 400 and 800 relays (both won by Lake Linden-Hubbell) and the 100 hurdles (Carlen Smith of Hancock in Division 2). No girl has won a U.P. title in the 300 hurdles since Calumet's Jordan Kronshage in 2007. No local team has won a boys' relay at U.P. finals since Baraga (400) in 2005. The longest boys' individual drought is in the 800, where Dave Campbell of Calumet (1999) was the last local winner. No local team has won a boys' 1,600 relay at the Finals since the MHSAA started keeping its records on the Internet in 1997.

3. Part of the challenge of covering U.P. Finals is that it's like three meets in one. But if it were one, the Calumet girls, on the strength of overall wins in the 100 and 3,200 and three second-places, win going away with 59 points to 43 for second-place Norway. The rest of the top five: Marquette and Menominee 38 and Rudyard 37.

4. Remember my trips to the throwing area? Mostly in vain anyway. That's because for the first time since 2001, no one from the Copper Country won a throwing event at U.P. Finals. Obviously, there's been quite a run of great throwers, including Garrett Maki and Briana Raasio of Hancock, Natalie Berryman of Houghton, etc., several of whom are now at the college level.

5. On the flip side, the tremendous success of the area in the sprints is noteworthy, as Kirkley, Paul Frantti, Jamie Dompier and Chelsea Jacques collected nine of the Copper Country's 16 wins in races of a lap or shorter.

This area won only one such race (Brittany Engman of Dollar Bay in the D-3 girls' 200) last year.

The most success this area has had in those events in recent history was five in 1999, including three from the previously mentioned Al D. and a 200-400 double from Emily Karry of Hancock.

6. Baraga County went without a U.P. champion for the fourth consecutive year (the last one was the girls' 1,600 relay in 2008), but once again it claims an odd consolation prize. L'Anse scored more points this year (43) in boys and girls combined than any other school that did not win an event.

7. 19, 11, 16, 28, 11, 25. That sequence of numbers indicates the number of shots off the lead the Houghton boys' golf team was in the six WestPAC meets this season. One more number: 0. How much that mattered last Friday at Wawonowin Country Club.

8. The Houghton girls dropped Noelle Polakowski's 94 at U.P. Finals last week. To illustrate the patent absurdity of how good that is, had Polakowski defected to any other school in the top 10 except second-place Calumet, that team would have moved up at least one position in the overall standings.

9. The last time a Jeffers golf team won a U.P. title? The girls, in 2007, at the same course - Highland Golf Club west of Escanaba. Want to know the even weirder connection? That meet was covered by ... yours truly for the Daily Press in Escanaba.

Now that the 2011-12 prep sports season's in the books, I'm going to take a moment and get my brain back together. After all, football starts on Aug. 24, which isn't too far away.

Brandon Veale can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at



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