MARQUETTE - The wind was so strong it pushed the high jump pit across the track and into the fence, but it couldn't knock the Gladstone Braves off course as they blew past the competition to capture the boys' Great Northern Conference track and field championship on Thursday.
The Braves, who captured their first regional crown in three years a week ago, got off to an unexpected start as their 3,200-meter relay lost for the first time all year. Braves' coach Gary Whitmer said the team's third place finish could help going into the U.P. Finals.
"We had one guy who was a sophomore and ran in the freshmen sophomore meet on Tuesday (in Menominee). He was doing a lot of sprinting, which he's not use to, and he said his legs were sore from that," Whitmer said. "We hadn't lost that race all year, but we lost today for the first time so I think that will help us focus a little bit and realize we have to go after it in the finals."
Gladstone was able to earn some of its points back as senior distance runner Kyle Arvan picked up a second place finish in the 1,600 (5 minutes, 00.69 seconds) and won the 3,200 at 10:55.99.
"For the two mile the whole entire year, I've always been sticking with second or third place and the last lap I just go get someone and stick there until about 100 meters left," Arvan said.
Arvan, who was the regional champ in both the 1,600 and 3,200, kept the same strategy down the stretch Thursday as he battled the winds.
Great Northern Conference meet
Summary: 1. Gladstone, 151 1/2; 2. Kingsford, 107; 3. Menominee, 102 1/2; 4. Marquette, 77; 5. Escanaba, 63; 6. Stephenson, 17.
3,200-meter relay - Escanaba (no names available), 8:39.14
110 high hurdles - Nick Maycunich (K), 17.49
100 dash - Leonard Briggs (MEN), 12.10
800 relay - Menominee (Chris Briar, Elijah Mojzych, Shaun Sullivan, Briggs), 1:34.44
1,600 run - Jordan Ogren (E), 4:53.86
400 relay - Kingsford (Cole Peterson, Cole Tengesdahl, Tyler Curren, Reed Larson), 44.87
400 dash - Jeff Gregory (K), 54.28
300 intermediate hurdles - Bryan Hines (MEN), 43.12
800 run - Andrew Bannitt (MQT), 2:10.04
200 dash - Alex Gagnon (MQT), 23.77
3,200 run - Kyle Arvan (G), 10:55.99
1,600 relay - Gladstone (Tim Ketchum, Kyle Kleiman, Ian Houle, Chris Sedenquist), 3:46.56
Discus - Jared Vuksan (G), 139-9 1/2
Pole vault - Jacob Mathieu (MEN), 12-0
Shot put - Vuksan (G), 51-1
High jump - Andrew Olesak (G), 5-10
Long jump - Justin Pederson (G), 21-5 3/4
"I let other people just kind of break the wind and in the last lap I just go out there and finish with a good strong kick," Arvan said. "That head wind was just a killer. It really just drains everything in your quads. It's like running up-hill basically."
Gladstone also got a boost from its field events as Jared Vuksan won the discus with a toss of 139-feet, 9.5 inches and the shot put with a throw of 51-1. Andrew Olesak captured first in the high jump with a leap of 5-10 and Justin Pederson snagged first in the long jump, springing 21-5.75.
"All year even at the regionals, Marquette beat us by 10 or 12 points in the running (events), but our field events again came right through us," Whitmer said. "We're a full team. We were getting points from all over the place, which is very important to be a good track team."
Gladstone (151.50) was followed by Kingsford (107) and Menominee (102.50). Marquette finished in fourth place with 77 points.
MSHS coach Kyle Detmers said the stiff competition was a bigger problem than the wind.
"We got blown away and no pun intended," Detmers said. "This conference is so tough and if you don't show up like we didn't show up today, you're going to get pounded. We got beat pretty good today, but I was proud of the guys. It was a tough day to run."
Detmers, who is in his first year as head coach, said it's been a learning experience, but it's on him to get his team ready for the U.P Finals on Saturday, June 2 in Kingsford.
"We've got to get focused. It's tough this time of the year. It's near the end of the school year, you have some seniors who might be looking ahead a little bit too far, but my job is to get them ready for the U.P. Finals," Detmers said. "We're just looking forward to the U.P Finals so we can redeem ourselves."
Escanaba finished in fifth place with 63 points and Stephenson rounded out the meet with 17 points.