KINGSFORD - With four running events remaining, the Gladstone boys appeared to be well on their way to another championship in Saturday's Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals.
The Braves were undefeated coming into this meet and holding an 82-55 lead over Marquette going into the 800-meter run, then the unthinkable happened.
Marquette outscored the Braves 42-0 in those races, storming to its third straight title with 97 points. Gladstone finished with 82 and third-place Manistique had 60.
Kenner Broullire of Manistique flies to a PB 20-feet-1 in long jump to take second Saturday.?He set a U.P. record to win 300 hurdles. (Daily Press photo by Dennis Grall)
"Going into the meet, we were only 10-point favorites (on paper)," said Braves' coach Gary Whitmer. "Get that mix of teams and you never know what can happen. We knew it was going to be close. Marquette just had it all together. They pretty much did the things they were supposed to do and a lot of little things didn't go our way."
Marquette grabbed the top two spots in the 800, with freshman Andrew Bannitt winning in two minutes, 3.1 seconds and junior Leighton Locke following at 2:03.85.
"We could feel the momentum going their way after the 800," said Whitmer. "They ran incredible times. We could see their freshman coming on at the (Great Northern) conference meet. We knew he'd do well, but we didn't expect him to do that. They also threw (Garrett) Pentecost in a few relays, which helped them and knocked us down a little."
The Braves, who dominated the GNC meet in Marquette May 24, scored 56 points in the field events on Saturday.
Junior Zach Sturdy retained his pole vault title at 12 feet, six inches. Junior Jared Vuksan won shot put at 51 feet, 3.75 inches and placed second in discus (143-7.5).
"We had some nice things happen in the field events," said Whitmer. "Winning the meet wasn't out of reach. I think the kids were a little too pumped up. After the meet, our kids went over and shook their hands, which I think was part of the healing process. They were actually doing well on the bus ride home. We still had a great season. The guys did an awesome job."
Manistique junior Kenner Broullire set a U.P. and school record in the 300-meter hurdles in 39.74 seconds. His effort trimmed .26 second off the previous school-best by Rich Blowers in 1993. The former D-1 record (40.01) was set by Jason Hofer of Menominee in 2004.
Broullire then placed second in long jump (20-1).
"I hit the first three hurdles and four total, but had a good finish," said Broullire. "I felt pretty good in the home stretch. In long jump, I had my best jump all year. I think the adrenalin of being at the U.P. Finals helped. Everything just came together. I thought our team did real well."
The Emeralds also copped the 3200 relay in a school-record 8:25.57.
"Our first guy ran a 2:05, which is about 10 seconds faster than usual," said Emeralds' coach Mary Lou Lund. "I think winning that race set the tone. Some of the kids who didn't qualify for the Finals came here to support us, and we certainly appreciate that. I think they'll also benefit from coming here. They'll have a better idea what to expect when they qualify."
Escanaba junior Andrew Stenberg gained his first U.P. title in the 1600 (4:45.14), with Gladstone senior Kyle Arvan runner-up (4:47.9). He was fifth in the 3200.
"Kyle really pushed me on the home stretch," said Stenberg. "I knew I was going to have to work for it in the end. I was just so happy to cross the finish line. It didn't hit me right away that I had won it."
The Eskymos, who didn't qualify anybody for last year's Finals, scored 27 points Saturday.
"Nearly every kid who came here today ran a personal best," said Esky coach Ryan Wender. "We certainly can't complain about that. The 1600 was a big win for Andrew and the team. I think it's encouraging for the kids to see what that's like."