ONTONAGON - In a roundabout way, Lake Linden-Hubbell senior Trevor Ongie is very thankful for the Copper Country explosion of prep softball.
Because without softball, Ongie would not have been able to collect four separate first-place finishes at the Copper Country Conference track meet Monday night, stamping his first and only season as a track athlete with distinct success.
A noted golfer, Ongie has been able to participate in track and field as well as golf this year thanks to a new rule allowing LL-H students to play in multiple same-season sports. The change in policy was brought about after the creation of the softball program, granting Lakes girls access to suit up on the oval and the diamond.
Ontonagon’s Taylor Beaudry, left, and Dollar Bay’s Tom Autio sprint to the finish in the 800-meter run at the Copper Country Conference championship track meet Monday at Carlson Field in Ontonagon. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
The rule goes both ways though, as Ongie noted Monday after winning both hurdles races, the high jump and long jump in Ontonagon.
"It's been really nice because it is just another avenue to be competitive," Ongie said. "You can kind of say that softball is keeping me in shape, and I don't even play."
Ongie's explosive day helped pace another banner performance for a deep LL-H track team, as the Lakes ran away with the conference meet, beating Dollar Bay 218 to 114. Chassell took third with 72 points, while host Ontonagon came in fourth with 63.
Team scores: Lake Linden-Hubbell 218, Dollar Bay 114, Chassell 72, Ontonagon 63, Baraga 19, Jeffers 9.
3200 relay - 1, Dollar Bay (Nate Tervo, Carl Kangas, Kyle LeClaire, Tom Autio), 10:05; 2, Lake Linden; 3, Baraga.
110 hurdles - 1, Trevor Ongie, LLH, 17.17; 2, Charles Heckel, LLH; 3, Lance Kangas, DB.
100 - 1, Tony Soumis, ONT, 11.94; 2, Kyle Stromer, CHA; 3, Tyler Roose, LLH.
800 relay - 1, Lake Linden (Konrad Klein, Luke Monette, Trent Ambuehl, Tyler Roose), 1:40; 2, Dollar Bay.
1600 - 1, Tom Autio, DB, 5:08; 2, Brandon DeRochier, JEF; 3, Brett Kauppinen, LLH.
400 relay - 1, Lake Linden (Konrad Klein, Luke Monette, Trent Ambuehl, Tyler Roose), 47.65; 2, Ontonagon; 3, Chassell.
400 - 1, Zachary Cherubini, CHA, 56.16; 2, Thomas Plante, LLH; 3, Lucas Dean, ONT.
300 hurdles - 1, Trevor Ongie, LLH, 44.12; 2, Charles Heckel, LLH; 3, Arthur Lyons, LLH.
800 - 1, Tom Autio, DB, 2:21; 2, Taylor Beaudry, ONT; 3, Brett Kauppinen, LLH.
200 - 1, Tyler Roose, LLH, 25.66; 2, Alex Ashley, ONT; 3, Konrad Klein, LLH.
3200 - 1, Tom Autio, DB, 11:35; 2, Carl Kangas, DB; 3, Nate Miron, BAR.
1600 relay - 1, Lake Linden (Thomas Plante, Dayne Matson, Arthur Lyons, Ryan Liimatainen), 4:06; 2, Ontonagon; 3, Dollar Bay.
Discus - 1, Ryan Knoll, LLH, 123-9; 2, Blayd Lewendowski, CHA; 3, Kyle Stromer, CHA.
Shot put - 1, Charles Heckel, LLH, 41-8; 2, Brady Guilbault, ONT; 3, Austin Peterson, LLH.
High jump - 1, Trevor Ongie, LLH, 5-8; 2, Zachary Cherubini, CHA; 3, Kyle Stromer, CHA.
Pole vault - 1, Blake Dupuis, LLH, 11-0; 2, Trent Ambuehl, LLH; 3, Nate Tervo, DB.
Long jump - 1, Trevor Ongie, LLH, 18-6; 2, Zachary Cherubini, CHA; 3, Konrad Klein, LLH.
Ongie is hoping the meet was just a precursor of things to come as the senior prepares for U.P Finals.
He has his eyes on the school's 110 high hurdles record - 16.27 seconds - after winning with a 17.17 run Monday.
As someone so new to the sport, he believes he can chop major time off his pace as he grows more comfortable with the technique.
"I just tried hurdles one day and it just kind of clicked," Ongie said. "I've been working hard ever since.
"For me the form is everything. If I can get a good start and focus on each hurdle one at a time I think I have a shot at the school record."
While Ongie enjoyed four individual wins Monday, Dollar Bay distance runner Tom Autio was voted by the coaches as CCC boys MVP thanks to wins in the 800, 1600 and 3200, as well as victory anchoring the 3200 relay.
Autio cruised to double-digit wins in the mile and two-mile but he also participated in what may have been the race of the day with a scintillating 800.
After Autio took a quick lead in the first lap, Ontonagon sprinter Taylor Beaudry closed the gap in the final 100 meters with a spirited kick.
As Autio felt Beaudry coming up on his hip, he dug harder than he ever had before to edge his Gladiator competitor by seven one-hundredths of a second. Autio broke the finish line at 2:21.52, with Beaudry crossing at 2:21.59.
"That must be the hardest I've ever ran, because my legs have never hurt like this," Autio said. "I heard my coach screaming that he was coming, so I just gave it everything I had. It must be everything because I am exhausted."
With Autio named MVP, Lakes junior Tyler Roose was named CCC sprinter of the year, winning the 200 and anchoring two relay wins. Ongie was named the top CCC jumper, and Lake Linden's Charles Heckel received thrower of the season after winning the shot put (41 feet, eight inches) and placing fifth in the discus. LL-H coach Mike Greene was named coach of the year.
Other noted winners include Chassell's Zachary Cherubini for the 400 and Ontonagon's Tony Soumis in the 100.