HOUGHTON - The top of the local boys' cross country scene took another turn Monday.
After Houghton sophomore runner Jacob Colling had finished as the top Copper Country runner in the last three races, and seemingly established himself as the one in the WestPAC to beat, Calumet's Devin Berg went out and did just that.
Berg and Colling have been within seconds of each other all season, and at the Houghton Invite at the Michigan Tech Trails, Berg conquered the hilly course and Colling to win with a 17 minute, 32 second finish.
Calumet runner Devin Berg cruises into the finish line Monday at the Houghton Invite at the Michigan Tech Trails. Berg won the boys race with a 17 minute, 32 second finish. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
Houghton runner Ashley Laux finished fifth Monday with a 21:57 time and was the first runner to cross for second-place Houghton. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"Jacob (Colling) is a really good runner, and I just gave it a little extra today to see if I could beat him," Berg said. "He pushes me, I push him to go faster and faster; it is a tough race every time. The Houghton kids have been beating me all year, but it was a really good race today."
Houghton's David Jaszczak finished second in 17:39 and Colling took third with a 18:15 time.
After the trio started out in the first two kilometers together, Berg passed Colling at the top of the first hill and then separated from Jaszczak in the last 500-meter straightaway.
Boys team results
1, Houghton 29; 2, Calumet 36; 3, Hancock 86; 4, Dollar Bay 105; 5, Jeffers 125.
Boys individual results
1, Devin Berg, CAL, 17:32; 2, David Jaszczak, HOU, 17:39; 3, Jacob Colling, HOU, 18:15; 4, Josh Larson, CAL, 19:05; 5, Brett Houle, DB, 19:07; 6, Maxx Frederickson, CAL, 19:18; 7, Ri Chen, HOU, 19:23; 8, Dan Wood, HOU, 19:24; 9, Colin Campbell, HOU, 19:26; 10, Jacob Jarvis, HAN, 19:29; 11, Ethan Larson, CAL, 19:38; 12, Jim Woodford, HOU, 19:32; 13, Hayden Heikkinen, HAN, 20:00; 14, Cullen Sackson-Hodges, CAL, 20:07; 15, Spencer Donnelly, HOU, 20:12.
Girls team results
1, Calumet 18; 2, Houghton 43; 3, L'Anse 124; 4, Dollar Bay 124; 5, Jeffers 128.
Girls individual results
1, Tara Kiilunen, CAL, 20:18; 2, Leah Kiilunen, CAL, 20:41; 3, Rachel Poyhonen, CAL, 21:02; 4, Abbey Helppi, CAL, 21:40; 5, Ashley Laux, HOU, 21:57; 6, Marika Abbott, HOU, 22:01; 7, Jessica Schlaff, HOU, 22:07; 8, Evelyn Delong, CAL, 22:17; 9, Becca Serbenski, WIC, 20:22; 10, Meeghan Randell, JEF, 22:29; 12, Kelsie Richards, HOU, 22:46; 13, Rachel Chard, HOU, 22:50; 14, Isabel Sharp, HOU, 22:50; 15, Carli Daavettila, DB, 22:55.
"I just decided I was going to go for it today and see if I can make it," Berg said. "I decided to push him a little bit quicker, a little bit earlier and it worked out."
The Houghton boys team won with a 29 final score, placing five runners in the top nine. Calumet finished second with 36 points, while Hancock took third with 86.
For the girls teams, it was all Calumet once again. The lady Copper Kings earned first with a team score of 18 (15 is perfect) and Houghton came in second at 43.
Calumet senior Tara Kiilunen won with a 20:18, followed by her freshman sister Leah in 20 minutes 41 seconds. Teammates Rachel Poyhonen (21:02) and freshman Abbey Helppi (21:40) came in third and fourth.
Tara said after the race the addition of Leah and Helppi has been a particular boon for Calumet as the Copper Kings try and regain the U.P. Cross Country Title.
"Leah just pushes it really hard in workouts," Tara said. "And Abbey is right there too. They are both awesome. With the way everyone is running, we might have a really awesome team this year."
Times were slightly dampened Monday as the Tech Trails is likely the hilliest course the runners will see all season.
"That last hill is just killer," Berg said.
Still, Tara Kiilunen made it clear that the extra work put in to conquer the hills would be worth it when she rematched with Marquette freshman runner Lindsey Rudden - the only runner to ever beat Kiilunen in high school.
"A few years ago I was the little freshman upsetting everyone, so I know what's up," Kiilunen said. "So you put in a little extra effort when you are doing your crappy workouts, you run the track, you run uphill. I really want to get her to just finish off the season and my career."