By John Vrancic
MENOMINEE - The Escanaba boys' cross country team returned to its winning ways Tuesday, earning top honors in the M&M Border Battle with 65 points.
Esky, which won for the third time in four meets this season, was followed by Luxemburg-Casco, Wis. 77 and Menominee 85.
The Eskymos were 11th overall in Saturday's Smiley Invitational at Wausau, Wis.
"It makes my life easy, knowing our top guys are going to perform week in and week out," said Esky coach Jake Berlinski. "This team is very close-knit. The guys are turning into a family."
Escanaba 65, Luxemburg-Casco, Wis. 77, Menominee 85, Marquette 107, Kingsford 112, West DePere, Wis. 121, Norway 191, Stephenson 206, Gladstone 249, Carney-Nadeau 262, Coleman, Wis. 305, Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas 318, Marinette NTS.
Top 10 - 1, Austin Wright, Marinette, 16:53; 2, Dan Kulas, Kingsford, 17:14; 3, Andrew Stenberg, Escanaba, 17:20; 4, Connor Cappaert, Stephenson, 17:23; 5, Davey Luplow, Menominee, 17:30; 6, Bryce Elm, West DePere, 17:39; 7, Lance Rambo, Marquette, 17:42; 8, Gunther DeDamos, Menominee, 17:43; 9, Shane Peronto, Luxemburg-Casco, 17:43; 10, Eric Cousineau, Escanaba, 17:47.
Luxemburg-Casco 37, Marquette 43, Menominee 58, Escanaba 92, Gladstone 168, West DePere 176, Coleman 205, Kingsford 226, Norway 241. Marinette, Stephenson, Carney-Nadeau NTS.
Top 10 - 1, Lindsey Rudden, Marquette, 19:04; 2, Calla Martysz, Marquette, 20:14; 3, Lisa Baeten, Luxemburg-Casco, 20:27; 4, Kameron Burmeister, Menominee, 20:33; 5, Breanna Suess, Luxemburg-Casco, 20:39; 6, Aimee Giese, Escanaba, 20:46; 7, Valerie Legrave, Luxemburg-Casco, 20:48; 8, Autumn McClure, Menominee, 20:54; 9, Lilly Johnson, Menominee, 21:11; 10, Dakota Hitchner, Luxemburg-Casco, 21:12.
Marinette's Austin Wright won the 3.1-mile race at the North Shore Golf Club in 16 minutes, 53 seconds. He was followed by Kingsford's Dan Kulas (17:14) and Esky's Andrew Stenberg (17:20).
"I was actually a little disappointed in my place and time," said Stenberg. "I think Kulas just pushed harder than I did. Although, he's a very good runner. He's very consistent. Austin ran a real steady race. We were kind of together at the mile, then he gradually pulled away."
Stenberg and Kulas met Aug. 30 in the Marquette Invitational, where Stenberg won and Kulas placed third.
"I really wanted to beat Stenberg after Marquette," said Kulas. "In the last mile, it was pretty obvious the Marinette kid was going to win. That's when I began to focus on taking second."
Esky's Eric Cousineau placed 10th (17:47) and Jordan Ogren took 12th (18:04).
"Dan Stacey ran in his first varsity race as a freshman and had a 19:04, which is outstanding," said Berlinski. "It's hard for freshmen to compete with seniors, but Dan is learning what it takes to compete."
Remaining area medalists were Carney-Nadeau's Dionte Blahnik 18th (18:38) and Esky's Gabe Ostrenga 20th (18:47).
The Eskymos ran without Brad Derouin and Isabelle Wellman, who were out with the flu.
L-C's girls edged Marquette 37-43 for the title. Third-place Menominee had 58 points.
Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden breezed to victory in 19:04, followed by teammate Calla Martysz (20:14) and L-C's Lisa Baeten (20:27) on this chilly and blustery day.
"I like to start fast," said Rudden, whose father Jerry was a football and track standout at Esky in the early to mid 1980s. "My dad was a sprinter in high school, and I have some of that in me. Although, endurance is really my strength. This is a fast course which has great footing. I also liked these conditions. It was just the right temperature (mid 40s)."
Marquette's overall performance was pleasing to coach Dale Phillips.
"Lindsey ran a tremendous race," said Phillips. "We have a ways to go, but we're improving every week. We're pleased with the way the girls ran, especially for having such a young team."
Esky's pacesetter was sophomore Aimee Giese, who took sixth (20:46).
"I wanted to go out hard and keep a steady pace," said Giese. "But I have a head cold and was pretty tired today. Plus, we had some stiff competition."
Other area medalists were Esky's Aubree Peterson 14th (21:39) and Gladstone's Sadie Strasser 19th (22:04).
"We're so proud of our girls today," said Berlinski. "They're really stepping up. I think they're starting to understand they're not that far behind Menominee, Marquette and Calumet, and they showed that kind of toughness for the first time this year. This is the first time Aimee ran under 21 minutes, which is a pretty big hurdle to clear."
The Esky jayvee boys, led by Chris Rose (19:44) grabbed the top four places and five of the top seven.
L-C's Amy Derenne topped the girls (22:10). Esky's Matalyn Ellisor was the top area finisher in 17th (24:28).