COPPER HARBOR - With the Copper Country's cross country runners gathered at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Houghton's Jacob Colling and Calumet's Devin Berg went to the tip of their abilities down the stretch of the Calumet Invitational Monday.
Colling gained the upper hand as the pair ran the uphill finishing stretch at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. He made it to the finish line two seconds ahead of Berg and made it about two steps past the finish line before collapsing in a heap.
"I wasn't surprised I beat him once I passed him. I was worried I might just mentally check out, stick behind him, think second's good enough," Colling said after getting to his feet.
With Brockway Mountain in the background, Houghton’s Jacob Colling holds off Calumet’s Devin Berg down the finishing stretch of the Calumet Invitational cross country meet Monday afternoon at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge near Copper Harbor. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
Colling, Berg and Houghton's David Jaszczak set a blistering pace over the first half of the five-kilometer run with Colling doing the front-running, but with roughly a half-mile remaining, Berg had taken the lead.
Berg, the U.P. champion in the Division 1 3,200 meters and individual runner-up to Houghton's Dylan Turpeinen at U.P. Finals last year, is no slouch, but Colling thrived on the incline and took a second victory of the season.
I really like uphills," Colling said. "At Houghton we train on the Tech Trails and we have lots of hills."
Boys varsity - Team: Houghton 31, Calumet 94, Hancock 102, Ironwood 123, Dollar Bay 134, Jeffers 140.
1. Jacob Colling, HOU, 16:48, 2. Devin Berg, CAL, 16:50; 3. David Jaszczak, HOU, 17:09; 4. Jared Joki, IWD, 17:43; 5. Zack Mazurek, BES, 17:54; 6. Josh Larson, CAL, 18:03; 7. Isaac Stone, HOU, 18:09, 8. Brett Houle, DB, 18:11; 9. Dan Wood, HOU, 18:18; 10. Maxx Fredrickson, CAL, 18:22; 11. Jim Woodford, HOU, 18:27; 12. Jacob Jarvis, HAN, 18:35; 13. Ri Chen, HOU, 18:44; 14. Ethan Larson, CAL, 18:46; 15. Reilly Schreiber, CAL, 18:51; 16. Hayden Heikkinen, HAN, 18:58; 17. Anthony Harris, JEF, 19:11; 18. Spencer Donnelly, HOU, 19:12; 19. Travis Bessner, HAN, 19:34; 20. Troy Kangas, CAL, 19:39.
Girls varsity - Team: Calumet 27, Houghton 50, Ironwood 87, L'Anse 140, Jeffers 148, Hancock 255.
1. Tara Kiilunen, CAL, 19:13; 2. Hannah Palmeter, IWD, 19:22; 3. Rachel Poyhonen, CAL, 19:32; 4. Leah Kiilunen, CAL, 19:40; 5. Jessica Gering, IWD, 20:04; 6. Abbey Helppi, CAL, 20:27; 7. Ashley Laux, HOU, 20:42; 8. Kelsie Richards, HOU, 20:45; 9. Marika Abbott, HOU, 20:46; 10. Tori Harris-Hoogenboom, WIC, 20:47; 11. Meeghan Randell, JEF, 20:50; 12. Jessica Schlaff, HOU, 21:09; 13. Evelyn Delong, CAL, 21:14; 14. Isabel Sharp, HOU, 21:17.53; 15. Rebekah Serbinski, WIC, 21:20; 16. Erin McKenzie, HAN, 21:42; 17. Katie Piispanen, IWD, 22:02; 18. Sarah Lyle, HOU, 22:05; 19. Linnea Berg, CAL, 22:07, 20. Rachel Chard, HOU, 22:13.
Colling finished in 16 minutes, 48 seconds, with Berg clocked just within two seconds of him.
"He's a really good runner," Colling said of Berg. "I think every race I've beat him in, it's been a sprint to the finish like that."
Jaszczak was 19 seconds behind Berg in third as Houghton cruised to the team title with 31 points thanks to top-10 finishes from Isaac Stone (seventh) and Dan Wood (ninth).
Calumet was second with 94, just ahead of Hancock (102), Ironwood (123), Dollar Bay (134) and Jeffers (140).
The girls side was much less competitive individually, as Calumet's Tara Kiilunen got started on a new winning streak by winning decisively in 19:13.
Kiilunen essentially led wire-to-wire, finishing nine seconds ahead of Ironwood's Hannah Palmeter, though she led by as many as 20 seconds at one point late in the race, as the finishing stretch stripped away some of the advantage.
"You get used to going downhill from the start, then the slightest uphill and it's like 'Aww, this sucks,'" she said.
It was worse for Calumet's rivals. The Copper Kings took four of the top six places for a winning total of 27 points. Houghton was second with 50, followed by Ironwood (87), L'Anse (140), Jeffers (148) and Hancock (255).