MHSAA Div. 2 boys track: Ishpeming’s 1-2 punch in sprints leads to regional title at Westwood

ISHPEMING – Possibly one of the toughest things to deal with in sports is an elite rivalry with a teammate.

But what’s even tougher is how other squads must deal with them when they team up together.

That was the situation Ishpeming High School boys track team members Nate Meyer and Adam Prisk found themselves in on Thursday afternoon.

They were running at the Division 2 regional meet at Westwood High School that determined who would advance to the Upper Peninsula Finals to be held June 1 at Kingsford.

In their lone individual event together, the 400-meter dash, Meyer clocked 53.51 seconds to beat Prisk by nearly a second as they finished 1-2 in the 400-meter dash.

Then they teamed up to run the final two legs of the 1,600 relay that concluded the meet.

While they didn’t have to win the event to clinch the team title over West Iron County and Hancock, a bad finish could’ve jepoardized their successful day.

So in the third leg, Prisk made up a dozen or more yards on WIC’s Clinton Brendel, most of it in the final stretch before handing off the baton to Meyer for the final lap.

“I just chased him down,” Prisk said in the aftermath of a race that the Hematites won for a six-point victory over WIC, 55-47, with Hancock within hailing range at 41.

“If you know me, I’ll never let my teammates down,” said the junior, who along with Meyer and a number of their track teammates played on Ishpeming’s state championship football team last fall.

A Hematites coach came up to Prisk afterward and told him his relay time was 42.98 seconds, which would’ve been good enough for a half-second victory in the individual 400.

Meyer appreciated the effort.

“It so much easier when you have the lead starting out the last lap,” the sophomore said, adding that it was vitally important to keep his WIC rival from catching him at any point in the lap.

Which the Wykons’ Colton Pangrazzi almost did about 175-200 meters in.

“I knew he was close, because I could see his shadow,” Meyer said.

He related that in a race where he isn’t being pushed, he’ll start his final burst of speed with about 100 meters to go.

This time, however, he knew it was important to start that kick sooner.

“I didn’t want him to catch me,” Meyer said. “I don’t have a set plan for how I run the race. You just react to how the race is going.”

While he didn’t pull away from Pangrazzi, he also didn’t let the WIC runner catch him to record a 2.28-second victory in 3:41.66.

It was just one of four victories recorded Thursday by Ishpeming, which will send 10 of its athletes to the U.P. Finals in individual events. Another half-dozen ran on at least one of its four finals-qualifying relays, though the number isn’t set as relay teams can be changed up between the regionals and finals.

Hematites senior Hunter Wirtanen shaded Prisk by 0.01 of a second to take the 200, senior Josh Whittington took the long jump by nearly 10 inches and junior Bobby Zhulkie won the high jump on a tiebreaker over freshman teammate Austin “Ozzy” Corp.

Zhulkie’s victory might’ve been the most remarkable since it was his first in high school after joining the track and field team just this spring.

“We spent so long (practicing) in the gym this spring, the first time I was at a meet I was still trying to figure out how to take my steps outdoors,” Zhulkie said.

While Prisk didn’t come up with a win on his own, he was the lone Ishpeming athlete to qualify for the finals in three individual events, adding a fourth-place in the long jump.

Westwood, which finished fourth in the six-team meet with 24 points, got a win plus a school record from sophomore Vince Carlson in the 110 high hurdles. He clocked 15.40 seconds to beat the 15.49 established by Brian Johnson in 1990.

In addition, Carlson’s sophomore cousin and teammate, Peter Carlson, finished fourth in the event to also qualify for the U.P. Finals.

Vince Carlson also finished second in the 300 intermediate hurdles for another U.P. qualification, while the other three individual qualifiers came in distance events.

For L’Anse, sophomore Brandon Kemppainen was his team’s lone finals qualifier after he took third in the 100.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.