ESCANABA - Fifty-three years have passed since a Manistique track team has last been crowned Upper Peninsula champion.
The Emeralds hope to end their drought Saturday when they travel to Kingsford for the U.P. Division 2 Finals.
St. Ignace, which swept both ends of the D-2 title the past three years, is competing in D-3 this time.
The Manistique boys captured their D-2 regional with 72 points compared to 39 for runner-up Stephenson on May 16.
Ishpeming edged West Iron County 55-47 for the title at Westwood.
The Emeralds then earned the Mid-Peninsula Conference title on May 23 with 159 points, followed by Negaunee 130 and Ishpeming 95.
"We're hoping the same thing happens in the U.P. Finals," said Manistique boys' coach Mary Lou Lund. "The boys need to put their best foot forward. It's not just going to be handed to us. We need to bring our A game."
The Manistique girls were also crowned regional champions with 78 points, with Newberry runner-up at 57.
West Iron dominated the Westwood regional at 77 points, followed by Hancock with 32.
The Emeralds were then runners-up to Negaunee (158-134) in the M-PC Meet at Norway.
"I like where we're at," said Manistique girls' coach Chris Marana. "We ran lot of our best times in the M-PC meet and pushed a strong Negaunee team. We hope to carry that performance into the U.P. Finals and cap off a real good year. Being in Division 1 the past two years and not qualifying too many girls, I think we may have surprised a few people. West Iron is definitely solid. They're going to be tough to beat. We're going to have to be on top of our game. They'll definitely be a test for us."
The Manistique boys are led by senior Kenner Broullire and junior Ryan Ramey.
Broullire copped the M-PC 100-meter title in a school-record 10.94 seconds. In the regional, he qualified for the 100 (11.34), 300 hurdles (40.67) and long jump at 18 feet, six inches.
Ramey won the 200 (23.67) and 400 (52.64) in the regional, then took the M-PC 200 (23.37) and was runner-up to Ishpeming's Nate Meyer in the 400.
"We have a great leadership captain (Broullire) who pushes the underclassmen to prepare for what's ahead," said Lund. "And what a competitor Ryan is. He's going after the Ishpeming kid in the 400. That was the first time in two years Ryan had been beaten in the 400. He started slower than normal and didn't expect him (Meyer) to have the kick he had.
"Our freshman miler and two-miler (William Pomeroy) and our discus throwers have stepped up as well. All our kids want the win. It's nice to see them come together. The key is to keep them relaxed. This will be a big change for our underclassmen."
Freshman Holly Blowers led the Manistique girls in the regional with victories in the 800 (2:32.04), 1600 (5:32.5) and a second in the 3200 (13:17.6).
In the M-PC, Blowers followed up by winning the 800 (2:30.46), 1600 (5:39.38) and 3200 (12:42.75). She also helped the winning 3200 relays in both meets.
"Holly has been running exceptionally well and the relays have been our strength," said Marana. "The pole vault is also a key event for us. We have three girls who have the ability to score a lot of points. Newberry is also going to have a lot of girls up there. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. It could very well come down to the in-between races where we're not sure what's going to happen. I think the girls are focused, and they showed that in the regional and M-PCs. We have some girls who've been there before. This will also be a new experience for many. I'm excited for them. They deserve the opportunity to show what they can do."
Also among Manistique's leaders are senior Monica Giles in the weight events and junior Elisa MacGregor in the 100 and pole vault.