Lake Linden-Hubbell sweeps regionals for 1st time since 1998

LAKE LINDEN – It was the slowest lap they ran all year, and yet, by far the most meaningful.

After all the athletes from the eight other schools had gotten on their buses to return home, the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes’ boys and girls track teams took their regional trophies and made a victory lap with their coaches – Gary Guisfredi and Doug Hodges – and teammates to commemorate the Lakes’ sweep of the Division 3 regional title Thursday in Lake Linden.

“I’m just happy for all the athletes to be able to have this opportunity and to feel what it’s like to be regional champions,” Hodges, the boys coach, said. “Our boys sports have been successful same with the girls. It’s just nice to see that the hard work and the weight program that we have going in the offseason is paying dividends in all the sports with both genders.”

LL-H’s boys scored 54.50 points to beat out the Bessemer Speedboys (47.50) and the Wakefield-Marenisco Cardinals (41.00), while the LL-H girls cruised to their second consecutive regional title, scoring 65.00 points and beating the Ontonagon Gladiators (46.00) and the Chassell Panthers (43.00).

It’s the first time since 1998 that LL-H swept a regional meet.

“We had a team effort,” Guisfredi, the girls coach, said. “Some of the events we thought we could score, we scored. Our girls came through, they didn’t surprise me, but they certainly came through when they needed to.”

LL-H won 7 of 17 events on the boys side and 6 of 17 on the girls. LL-H’s Brendan Middleton won the 100 (11.90 seconds), long jump (18 feet, 4 inches) and finished second in the 200 (24.07).

“I still got room to improve,” Middleton said. “I still feel like I could get faster, but it’s nice knowing I’m one of the best in my region.”

Middleton also anchored the winning 400 relay team of Kellen Klein, Arthur Lyons and Aaron Hainault; the team’s time of 46.78 set a new school record.

“The 400 relay was another goal those four guys really had their sights set on,” Hodges said. “The sprinters: Middleton, Hainault and Klein went into the blocks, repeatedly, and got videotaped and we’d analyze the video. They really wanted to succeed today.”

LL-H’s Lucas Klein swept shot put (43-10) and discus (133-1); Steven Suhonen won the 110 hurdles (18.52); and Lyons was victorious in the 400 (56.53) for LL-H’s other victories.

For the LL-H girls, they took firsts in the 400 relay (54.25), 800 relay (1:55.03) and 1600 relay (4:28.62). Individually, Stephanie Harry took first in the pole vault (8-0); Laura Lyons won the long jump (15-0) and Carli Ongie set a new Warner Athletic Field record in the 800 with a time of 2:30.03, besting her own record from Tuesday of 2:31.1.

“It’s a goal of ours to win the regionals,” Guisfredi said. “I think we have a chance to compete in U.P.s. The relay teams we are taking down and the individuals that are going down, a lot of them can score. When you get to that meet, it comes down to nerves and preparation over the next two weeks.”

The top four in the individual events and top two relay teams all advance to the U.P. Finals in Kingsford on June 4.

Individually, no one had a better day than Ontonagon’s Lori Wardynski; Wardynski won four events: the 100 hurdles (17.12), 100 (13.62), 300 hurdles (49.09) and high jump (4-8).

“It does feel good to come out of a meet with four wins,” Wardynski said. “I feel like I trust in my workout system, and I’m tired right now, but I feel good about where I’m at. I just have to stick with the program.”

In other area winners: Dollar Bay’s Brendan LeClaire took first in the 3200 (10:57.40); Chassell’s girls 3200 relay team was victorious (10:45.47); Chassell’s Shitaye Sam won the 1600 (5:28.06) and the 3200 (12:08.93); Ontonagon’s Paige Blake scored wins in the 400 (1:02.71) and 200 (28.37); and Dollar Bay’s Vivica Nelson won the discus (100-10).