Hematites’ Korpi keeps Houghton from total domination at Tracy Strom Invite

ISHPEMING — The Houghton cross country teams led the way here Thursday, sweeping both ends of the Tracy Strom Invitational.

The Houghton boys scored 26 points, followed by Negaunee 49 and Westwood 86 in the second WestPAC Conference meet this season.

Houghton’s girls won with 23 points, followed by Hancock 40 and Westwood 63.

“We had a pretty good day,” Houghton coach Traci Welch said. “We were missing a lot of kids on both teams, but other kids stepped up. Five girls and all seven boys medalled and Birk Seagren had a great race. “

Seagren copped the boys’ race, covering the hilly 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 54.1 seconds on this cloudy and seasonably cool afternoon at the Al Quaal Recreation Center. He was followed by Ishpeming sophomore Kemper Gearhart (18:39.8) and classmate Isaiah Lawson (18:53.5).

“I’m very, very happy with it,” Seagren said. “Today, I just wanted to put it all out there. I wanted to go sub-18 and with having just one meet this week, I could just focus on this one. We run a lot on hills, but they’re not close to the ones here. I just wanted to keep my upper body loose.”

Negaunee sophomore Simon Jaklin placed fourth (19:02.5) and Houghton sophomore Ben Hemmer was fifth (19:29.9).

Ishpeming senior Lola Korpi won for the third straight year at 20:33.9, followed by Houghton sophomore Tessa Rautiola (21:14) and junior Roman Peterlin (21:33).

“I rested yesterday and tried to recuperate from Tuesday,” Korpi said two days after winning the El Harger Invite at Munising in a personal-best 19:30.1. ” I’m still feeling it, but I gave it all I had and got my course PR (personal record) by three seconds. I tried to attack the hills. We do hill repeats on the big hill in practice. It’s not like we shy away from it.”

Negaunee junior Marlee Plaxco took fourth (21:44.9). She was followed by Hancock junior Ella Keranen (22:22) and Houghton senior Ayla Miller (22:59.2).

“I’m pretty happy with my finish,” Miller said. “This is a pretty tough course, probably the toughest one. I tried to stride it out on the downhills. I felt pretty good today. These are perfect conditions for running.”

Hancock junior Addison Pizzi sprained an ankle while walking the course before the races, leaving the Bulldogs with just five varsity runners.

“We still had a good day,” said Hancock coach Jen Smith. “We worked hard on the hill and it paid off. Most of our kids ran a PR. We had three girls out and were down to the bare bones.

“What happened to Addison was unfortunate. We were 1 ½ miles out and one of the Houghton runners (Carson Jackson) asked ‘may I help?’ and he carried her out. That was a huge life-saver. She got back safely.”


Houghton 26, Negaunee 49, Ishpeming Westwood 86, Hancock 92, Ishpeming 105. Gwinn and West Iron County NTS.

Top 10 — 1, Birk Seagren, Houghton, 17:54.1; 2, Kemper Gearhart, Ishpeming, 18:39.8; 3, Isaiah Lawson, Houghton, 18:53.5; 5, Ben Hemmer, Houghton, 19:29.9; 6, Michael Slawinski,, Negaunee, 19:52; 7, Colin Van Karsen, Houghton, 20:16.2; 8, David Bylkas, Hancock, 20:19; 9, Roman Yuhas, Westwood, 20:36.7; 10, Carter Campioni, Houghton, 20:36.7.


Houghton 23, Hancock 40, Ishpeming Westwood 63, West Iron County 110. Negaunee, Ishpeming, Gwinn NTS

Top 10 — 1, Lola Korpi, Ishpeming, 20:33.9; 2, Tessa Rautiola, Houghton, 21:14; 3, Roman Peterlin, Houghton, 21:33; 4, Marlee Plaxco, Negaunee, 21:44.9; 5, Ella Keranen, Hancock, 22:22; 6, Ayla Miller, Houghton, 22:59.2; 7, Retta Boburka, Westwood, 23:18.2; 8, Rayna Towles, Hancock, 23:37.3; 9, Katie Sarau, Houghton, 23:39.4; 10, Jill Berg, Hancock, 24:37.8.


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