MUNISING - The Escanaba boys made a huge statement Tuesday, topping a field of 28 cross country teams in the Munising Invitational with 56 points.
Runner-up Houghton scored 121 and third-place Sault Ste. Marie had 124.
Esky placed four in the top 13, with senior Andrew Stenberg placing second in the 3.1-mile race at Pictured Rocks Golf & Country Club in a personal-best 16 minutes, 32 seconds.
"As a team, this was our best performance all year," said Esky coach Jake Berlinski. "Andy ran a real smart race. Anytime you run a time like that in the U.P., you're going to be in the top couple runners and Andy deserves it."
Sault freshman Parker Scott won in 16:15 on a course which will also be the host site for the Upper Peninsula Finals on Oct. 20.
"It's real important to have a meet here before the Finals," said Scott. "I think it helps to get a feel of what the course and competition is like. The competition here was decent, but I hope it improves so I'll have somebody to run with."
Escanaba 56, Houghton 121, Sault Ste. Marie 124, Kingsford 153, Menominee 156, Negaunee 158, Marquette 201, Calumet 235, Norway 277, Stephenson 295, Munising 306, St. Ignace 354, Ironwood 374, Hancock 376, Gladstone 384, Gwinn 391, Carney-Nadeau 470, Manistique 563, Ishpeming 579, North Central 605, Westwood 622, Rudyard 646, Newberry 650, Bessemer 673, Big Bay de Noc 676, Marquette North Star Academy 678, Superior Central 702, L'Anse 732.
Top 10 - 1, Parker Scott, Sault Ste. Marie, 16:15; 2, Andrew Stenberg, Escanaba, 16:32; 3, Dan Kulas, Kingsford, 16:36; 4, Jacob Colling, Houghton, 16:36; 5, Connor Cappaert, Stephenson, 16:40; 6, David Jazsczak, Houghton, 16:52; 7, Devin Berg, Calumet, 16:53; 8, Davey Luplow, Menominee, 16:55; 9, Jordan Ogren, Escanaba, 16:56; 10, Eric Cousineau, Escanaba, 17:03.
Calumet 64, Marquette 79, Menominee 99, Escanaba 109, Sault Ste. Marie 139, Houghton 163, Ironwood 243, Newberry 251, Rudyard 261, St. Ignace 275, Munising 294, Gladstone 334, Hancock 380, Kingsford 415, Westwood 454, Gwinn 472, Negaunee 480, Norway 507, Manistique 517, L'Anse 543, Carney-Nadeau 546, Bessemer 605, Superior Central 607, North Central 638, Big Bay de Noc 647, Marquette North Star Academy 667.
Top 10 - 1, Lindsey Rudden, Marquette, 18:21; 2, Sarah Cullip, St. Ignace, 18:54; 3, Tara Kiilunen, Calumet, 19:03; 4, Kameron Burmeister, Menominee, 19:32; 5, Leah Kiilunen, Calumet, 19:36; 6, Aimee Giese, Escanaba, 19:48; 7, Calla Martysz, Marquette, 19:56; 8, Rachel Poyhonen, Calumet, 20:00; 9, Leah Jarvie, Rudyard, 20:05; 10, Hannah Palmeter, Ironwood, 20:08.
Scott's latest effort was five seconds better than his third-place finish in Saturday's Jackson Invitational.
"I just go out fast and hope that I feel good at the mile mark," he said. "Then, I try to maintain that pace and have a kick in the end. I trained a lot during the summer. I run seven miles a day, six days a week and take Sundays off. I think the rest day helps keep my energy level high."
Stenberg was followed by Kingsford senior Dan Kulas and Houghton sophomore Jacob Colling (16:36) and Stephenson's Connor Cappaert (16:40).
"We saw the Sault kid up ahead, then there was a pack of four of us who shifted the whole race," said Stenberg. "I really tried to kick it in the last 800 meters. I always feel better when I have a strong finish."
Esky's Jordan Ogren placed ninth in a personal-best 16:56, with Eric Cousineau 10th (17:03) and Brad Derouin 13th (17:18).
"This is the first time Andy and Jordan have run in the 16s," said Berlinski. "We're pleased our top five guys all ran under 18. As we've said before, all seven matter as much as anybody else."
Manistique's lone medalist on this sunny and mild day was senior Tyler Pomeroy, who took 21st (17:44).
Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden won the girls' race in personal-best 18:21, followed by St. Ignace senior Sarah Cullip (18:54) and Calumet senior Tara Kiilunen (19:03).
"I felt I needed to work a lot harder this time," said Rudden. "I knew Tara was going to come after me and she did. She stayed with me for two miles, then I gradually pulled away. With this being such a large field, I really didn't know what to expect. I really like this course and today's weather conditions. It's so much more comfortable running in this than in the heat and humidity. It was nice and shady on the course."
Calumet won with 64 points, followed by Marquette 79, Menominee 99 and Esky 109.
Esky sophomore Aimee Giese was the area's pacesetter, placing sixth in a personal-best 19:48. Junior Aubree Peterson took 15th in a season-best 20:35, followed by Callie Heller 19th (20:41).
"All the practices we've been doing paid off," said Giese. "I also got plenty of rest Monday night and have been following a balanced diet. It's fun being able to run against all this competition. I just tried to start out fast and stay with the frontrunners. I thought all our girls did pretty good. Most ran PRs (personal records)."
Giese's performance also made quite on impression on her coach.
"Aimee ran an outstanding race and she earned every bit of it," said Berlinski. "Aubree is a little nicked up right now, but also did a great job. Collectively, this was also the best race for our girls. Yet, we need to continue to work hard and improve."
Gladstone's lone medalist was Sadie Strasser, who took 21st (20:50).
The Norway boys and Ironwood girls were the D-2 winners, with the Munising boys and Rudyard girls as the D-3 leaders.