Chassell XC girls defend home course; Houghton boys win another meet

Photo submitted to Daily Mining Gazette The Chassell Panthers pose with the winning plaque after winning the Dollar Bay Invite at the Chassell Trails, Thursday, at Chassell. From left to right, Lela Rautiola (first), Jenna Pietila (fourth), Gwen Kangas (sixth) Paige Sleeman (seventh).

CHASSELL — Continued growth and improvement has been the goal of the Chassell Panthers cross country team this season — and that continued on Thursday. 

The Panthers posted their best times on their home course during the Dollar Bay Invite as the girls claimed the team title with 31 points. The Houghton boys also took first with 26 points.

“I feel like they have a sense of pride on their home course,” Chassell head coach Marco Guidotti said. “The course is fairly hilly and conditions were a little bit warmer today than Monday, and I knew the team really likes how difficult the course is. They were going for their best course times today, which I think pretty much everyone did.”

Lela Rautiola repeated her first-place performance in Monday’s Calumet Invite at the Sweedetown Trails with another victory Thursday, finishing in 21 minutes, 42 seconds. Calumet’s Clarity Gipp took second (22:09), and Houghton’s Anabel Needham finished third (22:45). 

The Panthers also had three other top 10 finishes, with Jenna Pietila taking fourth (23:05) and Gwen Kangas coming in sixth (23:43, while Paige Sleeman (23:51) finished seventh. Meg Hokenson finished in 13th (24:43) for Chassell.

“Scoring four girls in the top 10 was really huge,” Guidotti said. “We’ve been tightening the pack in the middle with our girls, where our No. 6 and No. 7 runners are tightening up and seeing that progress. I’m really pleased with that.”

On the boys side, Houghton’s Clayton Sayen recorded another victory in 17:51. His teammate, Seth Helman, finished second (17:51). Houghton also had strong finishes from Joe Wood (eighth, 19:08), Nikolai Huotari (ninth, 19:09) and Connor Jackson (10th, 19:10). 

Chassell’s Ben Tuomi took fourth (18:34) for the other top local finish. 

Girls team scores

1. Chassell 31; 2. Calumet 87; 3. Houghton 100; 4. Hancock 104; 5. West Iron County 105; 6. Dollar Bay 137.

Girls top 10

1. Lela Rautiola, Chassell, 21:42; 2. Clarity Gipp, Calumet, 22:09; 3. Anabel Needham, Houghton, 22:45; 4. Jenna Pietila, Chassell, 23:05; 5. Taylor Clark, West Iron County, 23:24; 6. Gwen Kangas, Chassell 23:43; 7. Paige Sleeman, Chassell, 23:51; 8. Natalie Maxson, Dollar Bay, 24:01; 9. Keena Larson, Jeffers, 24:04; 10. Sarah Dix, Baraga, 24:08.

Boys team score

1. Houghton 26; 2. Gogebic 38; 3. Chassell 71; 4. Republic-Michigamme 134; 5. Hancock 138; 5. Calumet 138; 7. Ontonagon 227; 8. Watersmeet 231. 

Boys top 10

1. Clayton Sayen, Houghton, 17:51; 2. Seth Helman, Houghton, 18:15; 3. Isaiah Aili, Gogebic, 18:33; 4. Ben Tuomi, Chassell, 18:34; 5. Uriah Aili, Gogebic, 18:54; 6. Leif Odegard, Houghton, 18:59; 7. Devon Byers, Gogebic, 19:04; 8. Joe Wood, Houghton, 19:08; 9. Nikolai Huotari, Houghton, 19:09; 10. Connor Jackson, Houghton, 19:10.


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