HANCOCK -The Hancock Invitational at McLain State Park played out in typical fashion Thursday, with Calumet dominating the girls cross country race and Houghton securing the boys title. These have been the standard results all season for the Copper Country area.
Just because it was predictable, however, does not mean the winners came away without gaining anything.
"Everyone still has something to earn on our team," Calumet coach Arnie Kinnunen said. "We have two freshmen who are improving with every meet, we still have competition for the sixth and seventh spots (on the varsity team) which is good and we have senior leaders who want to make this their best season yet."
Even the previously untouchable Tara Kiilunen still has something to prove.
Kiilunen won Thursday with a time of 20 minutes, three seconds - 21 seconds ahead of her sister Leah, the second-place finisher - and led the Copper Kings to a total score of 17 points, significantly ahead of second-place Houghton (40) and third-place Jeffers (103).
But Kiilunen lost her first cross country race ever in her career earlier this season to Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden, and her coach believes that can spur her to even greater times.
Girls Team Results
1, Calumet 17; 2, Houghton 40; 3, Jeffers 103; 4, Dollar Bay 124; 5, Hancock 128; 6, L'Anse 130; 7, Kingsford 161.
Girls Individual Results
1, Tara Kiilunen, CAL, 20:03; 2, Leah Kiilunen, CAL, 20:24; 3, Rachel Poyhonen, CAL, 20:26; 4, Abby Helpi, CAL, 21:00; 5, Marika Abbott, HOU, 21:21; 6, Ashley Laux, HOU, 21:37; 7, Evelyn Delong, CAL, 21:40; 8, Kelsie Richards, HOU, 21:43; 9, Jessica Schlaff, HOU, 21:45; 10, Meeghan Randell, 21:54.
Boys Team Results
1, Houghton 35; 2, Kingsford 56; 3, Calumet 58; 4, Hancock 101; 5, West Iron County 110; 6, Dollar Bay 141; 7, Jeffers 154.
Boys Individual Results
1, Daniel Kulas, KING, 17:01; 2, Jacob Colling, HOU, 17:44; 3, David Jaszczak, HOU, 17:49; 4, Devin Berg, CAL, 17:54; 5, Nate Carey, KING, 18:25; 6, Maxx Fredrickson, CAL, 18:25; 7, Isaac Stone, HOU, 18:33; 8, Brett Houle, DB, 18:35; 9, Josh Larson, CAL, 18:48; 10, Jacob Jarvis, HAN, 19:00.
"It is good every now and then for someone to lose," Kinnunen said. "Going three years without losing a single race is almost unthinkable. I think Tara has a goal to work towards now."
Calumet took the top four spots in the girls race and five out of the top seven. This should be especially scary for the rest of the U.P., because the Copper Kings will likely be getting their No. 2 runner from last season, Julia Lean, back sometime soon.
"I don't want to put a timeline for her first meet back or anything, but I do think she will be in top shape come U.P. Finals," Kinnunen said of Lean's recovery from a stress fracture. "I'm excited to have her back and see our team at full strength."
On the boys' side, while it was slightly more competitive, Houghton took care of business like it has all season.
The Gremlins won with a team score of 35, outclassing second-place Kingsford (56) and third-place Calumet (58).
Houghton sophomore Jacob Colling finished second in the race, trailing only Kingsford's Daniel Kulas, who dominated the field with a 17:01 victory. Colling crossed the finish at 17:44, shortly followed by teammate David Jaszczak (17:49).
"He is a really good runner and he ran a really good race today," Colling said of Kulas. "He is definitely one of the people that I am chasing this year, one of the people I want to beat by Finals."
To help prepare the entire team for U.P. Finals, Colling is counting on Jaszczak to continue to push him, and vice versa.
"David is just a beast of a runner," Colling said. "We had some fun out there today."