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Yooper hits the top

Sports Den

July 10, 2010
By Dennis Grall, sports editor

ESCANABA - Clay Roberts of Crystal Falls has climbed the highest peak in the United States, in the process becoming the first Yooper to accomplish the feat.

Roberts scaled Mount McKinley (also called Denali), which rises 20,320 feet above Alaska's tundra. He began the trek May 8 with two friends and required nearly two weeks to finish, with one climber dropping out at 17,000 feet.

"You start feeling the altitude at 11,000 feet," said the former Forest Park High School quarterback. "By 17,000 feet everybody is sick. It's like a permanent hangover, a constant headache and dizziness."

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Dennis Grall, sports editor

Climbers bring about 120 pounds of gear, taking everything to a base camp and then take portions to the next camp before returning for more gear and to sleep.

"It's hard to describe the last 1,000 feet," Roberts said. "You go a few steps and then take a break. The last 200 feet you're going over a ridge line. It's a 3,000 foot fall on one side and 1,000 feet on the other."

Only about nine percent of the climbers reach the peak. A large world map is at base camp for climbers to pin their home area, and Roberts has the only Upper Peninsula entry.

A veteran wrestling coach has decided to retire

Russ Pericolosi has ended his second stint as Iron Mountain High School's excellent coach. Pericolosi led IM for 24 years, bringing the Mountaineers to the state tournament the past two years.

He was head coach from 1980-95 and returned in 2002. He plans to officiate.

Jeff Christiansen, who had the helm between Pericolosi's two terms, will return as head coach. Pericolosi was 361-122-2.

A couple of veteran Menominee coaches with U.P. Sports Hall of Fame membership have been accorded more honors.

Football coach Ken Hofer joined the National Single Wing Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the group's recent meeting in Lansing.

Hofer has lead the Maroons to three state championships. Two schools, in Akron, Co. and Conway Springs, Ks., have won four state titles using the old single wing.

Hofer, who coached for two seasons at Stephenson before joining the Maroons in 1966, is 296-108-2 in 41 seasons. He has 302 wins overall.

Meanwhile, Fran Mellinger was honored by the Menominee School Board recently when it named the school's track facility Fran Mellinger Track and Field. Mellinger spent 15 years as the school's track coach and has also been an official in track, football and basketball.

Mellinger joined the UPSHF in 1993 and Hofer joined in 1987.

Kevin Gravel of Kingsford was selected in the NHL entry draft recently, going to the Los Angeles Kings as the 148th overall pick. The 6-foot-4 defenseman is planning to play at St. Cloud, Minn. State.



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