Braves win U.P. title

Adam Niemi | Iron Mountain Daily News Gladstone’s Adam Bruce runs the 1600 meter race during the U.P. track finals Saturday in Kingsford. Bruce won in 4:35.73.

KINGSFORD — The Gladstone boys had special motivation and Escanaba’s Dayton Miron scaled new heights in Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Track Finals.

Gladstone, looking to end a five-year title drought, won this time with 127 points. Westwood and four-time defending champ Marquette tied for second at 97.

Coach Gary Whitmer said the Braves wanted to win it for longtime coach and athletic director Matt Houle, who passed away last fall.

“Matt coached about 15-16 years and devoted a lot of time to our overall program,” he added. “It was a pretty emotional day. This was a great group of kids to work with. We had a nice balance of running and field events. We didn’t score a ton of points in the field events, but enough to keep other teams honest.”

Miron soared to a U.P. and school-record 13 feet, eight inches in pole vault, an inch higher than the previous U.P. best by Mike Coyne of Gladstone in 2007 and topped the former school record (13-6 3/4) by John Noblet in 1972.

“It felt amazing to clear 13-8,” he said. “It felt real good to see the bar stay up there after I rolled over. I couldn’t stop thinking about it on my 14-foot attempts. I couldn’t have done it without the help from my coach (Joe Royer), who gave me a lot of pointers. I won it at 13, then decided to go for 13-8. I’m really glad it happened here. My new pole separated me from 13 feet.”

Gladstone senior Adam Bruce gained his first 1600-meter run title in four minutes, 35.73 seconds and won the 3200 (10:04.67), both season-bests.

“The 1600 is the one that evaded me for four years,” he said. “It felt great to go under 4:40. I think good training all week really helped and having the break (nine days from competition) helped my hip heal.

“In the 3200, I just wanted to go out relaxed in the first lap and I stayed relaxed. I was hitting my splits each 200 (meters). I’m proud of my time after hip surgery. There was no guarantee I’d be able to run like this so soon. The guys were around the track cheering me on, which I really appreciate. I’m just thankful for everybody, especially Zoie (Berg) who’s there for me all the time. We wanted to do this for Mr. Houle.”

Sophomore teammate Calvin Thibault retained his 110 and 300-meter hurdle titles in 15.35 and 40.35, respectively, and placed second in the 200 (23.13) and third in the 100 (11.58).

“I’ve been feeling a lot of nerves in recent meets,” he said. “I just need to be more relaxed. We felt we had a shot at this. Yet, it also felt like we had a target on our back. We’re going to miss the seniors. With my family here, I felt I had more to run for.”

The Braves especially showed their depth in hurdles with sophomore Blake Servant taking second in the 110s (15.99) and senior James McKnight runner-up in the 300s (41.66).

Servant also provided the Braves with a first in discus (137-9).

“Getting Adam back really helped us,” said Whitmer. “He’s a real leader on the team and brings the kids together. We did this as a team. Each had to do his best and we had 25 points in the field events. We really came around in discus and had 18 points right there. I can’t say enough about Calvin. He works so hard and finishes so strong. He scored a lot of points (34) for us. Our 3200 relay hadn’t been under nine minutes all year and today we ran an 8:38. It was amazing to see the guys run it that fast.”

Ishpeming retained its D-2 title with 128 points, followed by Newberry 84, Norway 75 and Manistique 60.

Manistique junior Alex Misniakiewicz earned his first 3200 title (10:35.23) and took second in the 800 (2:07.4) and 1600 (4:47.36).

“I felt real good in the 3200,” he said. “I paced off Bruce for 2-3 laps and if it weren’t for (Ishpeming junior) Jonah Broberg, I would have never been able to do this. With a couple laps to go, somebody from the stands yelled out, ‘you have to go. That’s how champions are made.’ I know that wasn’t meant for me, but I just picked it up. In the last 200, I felt I had a pretty good chance to win it.”

Bessemer kept its D-3 crown with 136 points, followed by Lake Linden-Hubbell 67, Brimley 66, Rapid River 50 and North Central 42.

Rapid River senior Gunner Larson copped discus (141-4) and placed third in shot put (40-8).

“It took a lot of hard work and practice to get here,” said Larson, who’s enrolled in the nursing program at Bay College. “Having a good family and friends also helps. I’m pleased with the way my season went. My speed in the circle was pretty good, but my technique didn’t always go the way I wanted.”

North Central junior Leo Gorzinski earned his first 200 title (23.8), placed second in the 400 (53.15) and third in the 100 (11.83).

“I got a pretty good start, but was third going into the final stretch,” said Gorzinski. “I had some good luck in the end. I just felt real good.”

Stephenson senior Montell Glover set the U.P. record in the 100 (11.19), shaving .01 second off the previous best by Travis Bellefuielle in 2001.

Bessemer senior Uriah Aili set U.P. and school records in the 800 (1:59.93), 3200 (4:28.68) and 3200 (10:08.51), and is believed to be the first to accomplish that feat in the U.P. Finals.