BANAT - It was a great day to be an Eskymo Saturday as the Escanaba cross country teams swept top honors in the Stephenson Invitational.
The Esky and Menominee girls scored 31 points apiece, with the Eskymos winning for the first time this year on a tie-breaker. Third-place Munising had 83 and Gladstone took fourth at 95.
"We have seven girls running for a cause, which is great to see," said Esky coach Jake Berlinski. "This is a huge confidence boost for our girls. I think we're building momentum."
Paul Gerard photo
Aimee Giese of Escanaba runs during the Stephenson?Invitational Saturday at Banat. Giese was the top finisher on?Escanaba, placing third overall with a time of 20:41
Esky's boys won for the fourth time in five meets this season with 41 points. Kingsford edged Menominee 65-67 for runner-up honors.
"Our boys are getting better with each meet," said Berlinski. "They're dropping times and they're doing it together. You can run hard only so many times in the season and our schedule allows us to have fresh legs. It feels like we're healthy right now."
Kingsford senior Dan Kulas was crowned boys' champion, covering the 3.1-mile Dale Fountain Memorial Cross Country course in 16 minutes, 58 seconds. He was followed by Stephenson's Connor Cappaert (17:00) and Esky senior Andrew Stenberg (17:15) on this partly sunny and seasonably cool day.
Escanaba 41, Kingsford 65, Menominee 67, Stephenson 110, Munising 126, Norway 143, Gladstone 166, Carney-Nadeau 194, Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas 213, Coleman, Wis. 249. Big Bay de Noc, North Central, Manistique NTS.
Top 10 - 1, Dan Kulas, Kingsford, 16:58; 2, Connor Cappaert, Stephenson, 17:00; 3, Andrew Stenberg, Escanaba, 17:15; 4, Jordan Ogren, Escanaba, 17:27.4; 5, Gunther DeDamos, Menominee, 17:27.8; 6, Tyler Pomeroy, Manistique, 17:36; 7, Dave Luplow, Menominee, 17:36.8; 8, Eric Cousineau, Escanaba, 17:39; 9, Brett Hannah, Munising, 17:52; 10, Aaron Maas, Menominee, 18:01.
Escanaba and Menominee 31, Munising 83, Gladstone 95, Carney-Nadeau 138, Norway 153, North Central 182. Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas, Manistique, Big Bay de Noc, Coleman, Kingsford, Forest Park NTS.
Top 10 - 1, Kameron Burmeister, Menominee, 19:57; 2, Emily Ellman, Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas, 19:58; 3, Aimee Giese, Escanaba, 20:41; 4, Lilly Johnson, Menominee, 20:54; 5, Aubree Peterson, Escanaba, 20:56; 6, Autumn McClure, Menominee, 21:07; 7, Callie Heller, Escanaba, 21:30; 8, Anah Schloegel, 21:45; 9, Kimberly Carlson, Coleman, 21:46; 10, Sadie Strasser, Gladstone, 21:56.
"I tried to take him (Kulas) early," said Stenberg, who led for nearly two miles. "Then, Connor tucked in with Kulas and they reeled me in. I just need to work on my last mile. I need to step up my training a little."
Esky's Jordan Ogren took fourth in a season-best 17:27. Manistique's Tyler Pomeroy was sixth (17:37), with Esky's Eric Cousineau eighth (17:39).
"I hadn't been running as well as I hoped and began to wonder if all the hard work was paying off," said Ogren. "Today proved that it is paying off. This was definitely my best race so far this year, and I'm happy that our whole team did well. We're looking forward to better things, but we certainly have to keep working at it."
Menominee's Kameron Burmeister won the girls' race in 19:57, edging defending champion Emily Ellman of Lena-Marinette St. Thomas Aquinas by less than a second. Esky's Aimee Giese took third (20:41).
"It felt like I ran pretty well," said Giese. "I like this course a lot. The set-up is nice. You know you're not going to get lost.
"Winning as a team is also pretty cool. We ran as a pack, which I think made a difference. But there's a lot of good competition out there. We just have to keep working hard."
Esky's Aubree Peterson placed fifth in a season-best (20:56) and teammate Callie Heller was seventh (21:30).
"This is my favorite course and I just went out as hard as I could," said Peterson, who's on medication for an iron deficiency. "We were ready to run today. We're finally understanding it takes seven to win. I tried to catch the Menominee girl (fourth-place Lilly Johnson), but she had a nice finish."
Gladstone's leader was Sadie Strasser, who placed 10th in a personal-best 21:56.
"Sadie was real happy with her time," said Braves' coach Gary Whitmer. "Sadie puts a lot of time into her softball and tends to get in shape during the season. She's a very good athlete and provides excellent leadership."
The Braves ran without Iris Robare, who was ill and unable to make the trip. Also, Josie Gardner stepped into a hole during the race and suffered a possible calf injury.
"Some of the kids have been battling colds," said Whitmer. "Plus, we had homecoming this week and some were up late last (Friday) night. We told the kids to just use this as a hard workout. We're absolutely pleased with their effort. We're still heading in the right direction."
Manistique's Holly Blowers reinjured her ankle, but still took 11th in a career-best 22:04.
In the jayvee races, the Esky boys grabbed the first six and 11 of the top 12 spots. They were led by Hunter Dlugas at 18:43.
Isabelle Wellman won in 22:34 for the Esky girls, who placed five among the top six.