HOUGHTON - Racing for the first time since the season opener at Jeffers and dealing with a nagging injury, Houghton runner David Jazsczak turned to one unusual source Monday at Tech Trails in the Houghton Invite to give him the extra edge.
That's right, orange peels.
Houghton’s David Jaszczak runs to the finish line of the Houghton Invitational cross country meet Monday at the Michigan Tech Trails. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
From left, Calumet’s Leah Kiilunen, Calumet’s Chelsea Jacques and Hancock’s Abby Tembruell run side-by-side midway through the Houghton Invitational at the Michigan Tech Trails Monday. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"I chewed on an orange peel before the race, and it coats your mouth and keeps it from drying out," Jazsczak said. "My mom read it in some magazine on the Internet."
Hey, whatever works.
Jazsczak took an early lead Monday and never looked back, holding off Calumet challenger Devin Berg to win for the first time this season with an 18:07 finish. Berg took second, coming in just behind at 18:12.
Boys team results - Houghton, 32, Calumet 44, Hancock 90, Jeffers 99, Dollar Bay 109.
Boys individual results - 1, David Jazsczak, HOU, 18:07; 2, Devin Berg, CAL, 18:12; 3, Dan Wood, HOU, 18:53; 4, Jacob Colling, HOU, 18:54; 5, Hayden Heikkinen, HAN, 19:03; 6, Josh Larson, CAL, 19:03; 7, Anthony Harris, JEF, 19:16; 8, Jacob Jarvis, HAN, 19:19; 9, Mitchell Delong, CAL, 19:22; 10, Matt Chard, HOU, 19:27.
Girls team results - Calumet 24, Houghton 44, Hancock 53.
Girls individual results - 1, Chelsea Jacques, CAL, 21:00; 2, Leah Kiilunen, CAL, 21:23; 3, Abby Temruell, HAN, 21:28; 4, Noelle Polakowski, HOU, 22:02; 5, Corey Miller, CAL, 22:31; 6, Abbey Helppi, CAL, 22:33; 7, Kelsie Ricahrds, HOU, 22:39; 8, Erin McKenzie, HAN, 22:40; 9, Rachel Chard, HOU, 22:41; 10, Claire Haapala, CAL, 22:54.
Jazsczak said he could feel the Calumet senior on his heels the entire race, but that just spurred him on when facing the rolling up-hills Tech Trails has to offer.
"He was always behind me at least 20 yards or so," Jazsczak said. "It is challenging feeling him there, but at the same time, it helps you keep your pace going."
With Gremlin runners Dan Wood and Jacob Colling (just returned from injury) finishing third and fourth, Houghton built enough of a lead to win the boys race with a final 32 score, just edging Calumet at 44.
Hancock finished third with 90, followed by Jeffers (99) and Dollar Bay (109).
The return of Colling - although Houghton was missing multiple-winner Isaac Stone - and the home course advantage helped spur the Gremlins ahead of the Kings, Jazsczak believed.
"That gives us an advantage," Jazsczak said. "It is our home course, we run it every day, we know these hills. That really helps."
On the girls side, it was the familiar trio for most of the race finishing in a familiar order.
Calumet juniors Chelsea Jacques and Leah Kiilunen were joined by Hancock runner Abby Tembruell at the top of the pack for most of the 5K before Jacques pulled away over the final hill to win with a time of 21 minutes flat. Kiilunen finished second at 21:23, with Tembruell close behind at 21:28.
Calumet took home the team title with an impressive 24. Houghton finished second at 44, with Hancock (53) placing third.
Jacques said partnering up with Kiilunen early in the race has helped the natural sprinter maintain her pace through the entire race.
"I love running with Leah," Jaques said. "She is such a good runner, it makes it easier on me to keep going. Especially on the hills, she just attacks them."