ATLANTIC MINE - A new prep cross country season started Tuesday with plenty of new faces competing, but it was the same old teams and a couple familiar names atop the team and individual standings at theJeffers Invitational at the Kilpela Farms.
The Houghton boys began their U.P. championship defense with a first-place finish (26 points) and five runners in the top 10. Calumet finished second with 46 points while the host Jeffers Jets finished third with 96. Hancock (110), Dollar Bay (119) and Ironwood (126) rounded out the boys' team standings.
"I'm really impressed. I knew they were going to do well," Houghton coach Traci Welch said. "What's really interesting to me is some new kids stepped in and did awesome. Over the summer they really worked hard and just stepped up where the seniors that graduated left off."
Houghton sophomore Jacob Colling sprints to the finish line in first place at Tuesday’s cross country season-opening Jeffers Invitational, as teammate David Jaszczak follows just a few seconds behind for second place. For more photos, visit cu.mininggazette.com. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
Sophomore Jacob Colling's 18-minute, 40-second time earned him the golden shoe awarded to the top varsity boys finisher, and teammates David Jaszczak (second, 18:43), Isaac Stone (sixth, 19:59), Dan Wood (seventh, 20:26), and Jim Woodford (20:36) helped Houghton to the team victory, picking up for the loss of graduated U.P. medalist Dylan Turpeinen.
"I felt pretty strong," Colling said. "Me and David were right next to each other pushing each other pretty much the whole race, which I think really helped a lot."
While sandy course conditions and warm temperatures made the 3.1-mile race challenging, Colling enjoyed the true country atmosphere.
Boys varsity Houghton 26, Calumet 46, Jeffers 96, Hancock 110, Dollar Bay 119, Ironwood 126.
Top 20 - 1. Jacob Colling, Houghton, 18:40; 2. David Jaszczak, Houghton, 18:43; 3. Devin Berg, Calumet, 18:56; 4. Jaren Joki, Ironwood, 19:18; 5. Brett Houle, Dollar Bay, 19:21; 6. Isaac Stone, Houghton, 19:59; 7. Dan Wood, Houghton, 20:26; 8. Max Fredrickson, Calumet, 20:31; 9. Josh Larson, Calumet, 20:35; 10. Jim Woodford, Houghton, 20:36; 11. Ethan Larson, Houghton, 20:44; 12. Colin Hagan, Jeffers, 20:52; 13. Anthony Harris, Jeffers, 20:59; 14. Jacob Jarvis, Hancock, 21:02; 15. Brad Hodges, Calumet, 21:16; 16. Hayden Heikkinen, Hancock, 21:21; 17. Cullen Hodges, Calumet, 21:28; 18. Troy Kangas, Calumet, 21:35; 19. Kevin Semmens, Jeffers, 21:37; 20. Tom Autio, Dollar Bay, 21:40.
Girls varsity Calumet 32, Houghton 46, Ironwood 76, Dollar Bay 104, L'Anse 113, Jeffers 138, Hancock 165.
Top 20 1. Tara Kiilunen, Calumet, 20:50; 2. Jessica Gering, Ironwood, 21:17; 3. Leah Kiilunen, Calumet, 21:37; 4. Hannah Palmeter, Ironwood, 21:42; 5. Evelyn DeLong, Calumet, 22:30; 6. Marika Abbott, Houghton, 22:41; 7. Ashley Laux, Houghton, 22:47; 8. Abbey Helppi, Calumet, 22:50; 9. Kelsey Richards, Houghton, 23:19; 10. Isabel Sharp, Houghton, 23:27; 11. Meegan Randell, Jeffers, 23:46; 12. Emily Magaraggia, L'Anse, 23:54; 13. Carli Daavettila, Dollar Bay, 23:59; 14. Sarah Lyle, Houghton, 24:07; 15. Alayna Kangas, Calumet, 24:16; 16. Eric LeClaire, Dollar Bay, 24:18; 17. Julia Daavettila, Dollar Bay, 24:23; 18. Katie Piispanen, Ironwood, 24:42; 19. Erin Embald, L'Anse, 24:42; 20. Rachel Chard, Houghton, 24:48.
"I'd take running on something like this over golf courses any day," he said, alluding to several of the other courses teams will run later in the season.
While the Houghton boys used several new faces to achieve the same level of success they're used to, the Calumet girls used a similar recipe.
The Copper Kings, despite an injury that kept senior Julia Lean out of the race, won the girls competition with 32 points, beating out Houghton (46 points) and Ironwood (32). Dollar Bay (104), L'Anse (113), Jeffers (138) and Hancock (165) rounded out the varsity girls' competition.
"The girls ran excellent. They ran strong. They're working hard and it's a great first race of the season," said Calumet assistant coach Heather Brinegar, who was filling in for head coach Arnie Kinnunen for the day.
Winning team competitions is a whole lot easier when led by a senior runner who has never lost a high school cross country race.
That's right, Tara Kiilunen did it again, winning her fourth straight golden shoe at the Kilpela Farms, crossing the finish line in 20:50.
"(Ironwood's second-place finisher) Jess Gering (21:17) had me worried for a little bit there, but she started dropping back in the middle of the race," Kiilunen said. "I got the first race under the belt, so it feels good to get it over with."
Calumet and Kiilunen victories are commonplace on the local cross country scene, but the way the Kings earned the team victory this time was a bit different.
Without Lean, Calumet won thanks to a third-place finish from freshman newcomer Leah Kiilunen, Tara's sister, a fifth-place finish by Evelyn DeLong and an eight-place finish by freshman Abbey Helppi.
"We're all wired the same. We all want to win. We have that same attitude that we don't want to get beat," said Tara of the Kiilunen's running tradition.
Jeffers, largely thanks to the Kilpela family, also has a rich running tradition, as evidenced by the race's location in its 10th year in Atlantic Mine. Jets coach Laurie Smith was pleased with the season-opening event.
"It was the first meet of the season and it went well," she said. "It's nice to get a little bit of everything on the course - uphill, downhill, in the shade, in the sand. It's a good way to start the year."
A total of 41 runners competed in each of the varsity races, while 34 JV boys (Calumet's Reilly Schreiber won in 20 minutes, 8 seconds) and 24 JV girls (Houghton's Jessica Schlaff won in 23 minutes, 49 seconds) ran in the day's opening races.
Houghton, Hancock and Calumet are scheduled to be in the Marquette Invitational Thursday afternoon. The next meet in the local area is the Calumet Invitational, Sept. 10 at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor.