Weather plays role in indoor track meet

HOUGHTON – While the story Thursday in the Student Development Complex’s Multi-purpose room was supposed to be the season-opening track meet for several Upper Peninsula high schools, weather took center stage as teams from Marquette and Munising were unable to participate due to school cancellations. Local schools were able to participate, and began work setting the bar for what should be an interesting season.

“We would have had a few more teams had school not been cancelled,” said Michigan Tech coach Joe Haggenmiller. “When the roads are not passable and people can’t get to school, as much as they might want to go school to come to the meet, we can’t get them here and have them compete. That’s a life lesson as well. Not everything runs smooth We haven’t had a smooth spring in the last few years here.”

The Michigan Tech Invite opens the season with a smooth-running indoor meet, where Huskies athletes set up apparatuses, time runners, and manage the event that runs most of an afternoon.

“This meet is really run by the athletes on our team,” said Haggenmiller. “It’s good for our athletes to know what those people who are helping with timing, starting, and clerking, all those event officials at the meets. It’s good for them to know the work those people are putting in to make the track meets run.”

Haggenmiller believes this is a great opportunity for his athletes to give back to the community, who is supportive of Michigan Tech Athletics throughout the season.

“It’s an important community outreach for our team,” said Haggenmiller. “It’s important for us to be able to give back to these, the next generation, of track and field athletes. It is important for everyone to pay it forward a little bit.”

The constantly-changing weather has affected the team in more ways than during their hosted track meet. The team has yet to hold practice outdoors, and has run into a logistical issue heading into the weekend due to a change in schedule.

“We were scheduled to leave [today] for a track meet in central Minnesota,” Haggenmiller. “But, they are having some weather down there. They are postponing the meet until Sunday. We have been working on, as well as putting on the meet, getting the logistics taken care of for being able to travel Saturday-Sunday instead of Friday-Saturday.”

Several high school coaches also commented that the recent snow has forced their athletes to hold their workouts indoors, which is less than ideal, especially with the season now in swing.

Despite the weather issues, Chassell’s distance runners appeared to be in midseason form, as their girls took the top four spots in the mile with Shitaye Sam leading the pack. Ann Rautiola, Shumete Sam, and Julia Pietila all followed within eight seconds of each other.

Shitaye Sam also won the 800-meter as well, finishing four seconds ahead of Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Carli Ongie.

Ontonagon’s Lori Wardynski won the 60-meter hurdles and the 60-meter dash. She tied Houghton Cara Monette for the high jump, and was awarded the win. She also tied Nicole St. Martin for the pole vault title, but placed second.

On the boys’ side, Houghton’s Casey Lentowich won the 60-meter hurdles after earning the third-best time in the preliminary heats. Houghton recorded a win in the high jump as Hunter Richards reached four inches higher than any other competitor. Richards also won the 400-meter, just edging Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Arthur Lyons.

Hancock’s Alex Dewald won the 60-meter dash. Dewald also finished tops in the 200-meter dash,

Houghton’s Clayton Sayen and Seth Helman finished first and second, respectively in the mile and the 800-meter as well.