Gladstone’s Hughes earns GNC honors
MARQUETTE — The race for top individual honors was nearly as tight as could be for the Great Northern Conference boys’ cross country title here Thursday.
Gladstone sophomore Drew Hughes earned that honor by covering the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 31.9 seconds, a step ahead of Marquette sophomore Carson Vanderschaaf on this cloudy, chilly and windy day at Presque Isle Park.
Twin brother Colin Vanderschaaf placed third (17:35.2), and junior teammate Luke Janofski was fourth (17:39.1).
“I stayed with the Marquette group, and we had a pretty nice pace going,” said Hughes. “Taking the GNC title for the first time is really awesome. This could give me some momentum for the U.P. (Division 1) Finals.
“I think running on the hills in the Sault last weekend helped my conditioning. Today, the second mile was downhill, and that felt nice. It felt chilly at the start. The wind was coming right at us, but it wasn’t windy in the woods. Having the wind on our backs at the finish really helped.”
The Marquette boys grabbed seven of the top 12 places and scored 25 points for their eighth straight GNC title. Gladstone was runner-up with 44 and third-place Menominee had 77.
“Drew had a real nice finish,” said Braves’ coach Gary Whitmer. “I was proud of him, and Gio (Mathews) got a little cold out there. The kids weren’t used to the colder weather, but they ran strong. We also had two girls medal, which is good.”
Mathews took fifth at 18:04.5, followed by Escanaba senior Derek Douglas (18:12.2). Braves’ senior Lucas Hughes was eighth (18:36.7).
This marked the first meet in three weeks for Esky, which was under quarantine since Sept. 25 due to Covid-19.
“It feels pretty good to be back, and the kids are happy to be back,” said Esky coach Dominique Bougie. “The guys ran tough. They weren’t giving in at all. The two-week break was necessary because the number of cases has gone up dramatically in Delta County. All we can do is be safe and follow the protocol. I’d rather have our whole team healthy than have them all sick.”
The Marquette girls, who placed six in the top nine, collected their 21st consecutive title with 27 points. They were followed by Kingsford 65 and Menominee 71.
“The kid ran real well,” said Marquette coach Kyle Detmers. “Olivia (Moffitt) ran a little slower than she liked but still run well. I was real happy with Colin. Pack running is the key for the boys. The main thing we’ve got to keep the kids healthy. It’s always a great thing to win the GNC. Gladstone is getting better. They’re definitely competitive.”
Moffitt was crowned GNC champion for the first time at 21:11.2. She was followed by Kingsford senior Sarah Kulas (21:29.6), Menominee junior Hayden Buck (21:52.3) and sophomore Attica Brandt (21:57) and Marquette senior Lillian Weycher (22:18.4).
“The colder weather motivated me,” said Moffitt. “The faster I ran, the faster I could get done. I just decided to go for it. We were going into the wind for the first mile, then it was a little warmer in the woods. The wind on our backs coming in was really helpful. I felt a little more confident coming into this meet. I knew what to expect on our home course.”
Kingsford ran without senior Melanie Wenzel, who was feeling under the weather.
“I was about 20 seconds off my PR (personal record), although this is the best time I’ve had on this course,” Kulas said after achieving her highest GNC finish. “It was tough because Mel was out for this meet, so I just tried to stay with the leaders. Hopefully, she’ll be back for the Finals. It’s really nice to get runner-up in the GNC after all these years. The start felt real cold, but it was really nice in the woods. The woods kind of sheltered us.”
Esky sophomore Morgan Makosky was the area’s pacesetter in 10th (22:54.8) and Gladstone junior Samantha Strasler took 12th (23:01.1).
All five schools return to Presque Isle Park for the Upper Peninsula Finals Oct. 24.
Marquette 25, Gladstone 44, Menominee 77, Gladstone 92, Kingsford NTS.
Top 10 — 1, Drew Hughes, Gladstone, 17:31.9; 2, Carson Vanderschaaf, Marquette, 17:31.9; 3, Colin Vanderschaaf, Marquette, 17:35.2; 4, Luke Janofski, Marquette, 17:39.1; 5, Giovanni Mathews, Gladstone, 18:04.5; 6, Derek Douglas, Escanaba, 18:12.2; 7, Lincoln Sager, Marquette, 18:29; 8, Lucas Hughes, Gladstone, 18:36.7; 9, Cully Papin, Marquette, 18:41.3; 10, Brady Ketzenberger, Marquette, 18:51.3.
Marquette 27, Kingsford 65, Menominee 71, Gladstone 72, Escanaba NTS.
Top 10 — 1, Olivia Moffitt, Marquette, 21:11.2; 2, Sarah Kulas, Kingsford, 21:29.6; 3, Hayden Buck, Menominee, 21:52;3, 4, Attica Brandt, Marquette, 21:57; 5, Lillian Weycher, Marquette, 22:18.4; 6, Guinn Wuorinen, Marquette, 22:21.3; 7, Anna Grzelak, Marquette, 22:41.3; 8, Jordann Stephenson, Marquette, 22:45.3; 9, Ella Whalen, Marquette, 22:50.5; 10, Morgan Makosky, Escanaba, 22:54.8.