MHSAA U.P. Track Finals notebook: Superior Central’s Kienitz finishes second, but breaks school’s 800 record

KINGSFORD – Tyler Kienitz of Superior Central had a typical, but then not-so-typical reaction of a senior athlete who came oh-so-close to winning a championship in the 800-meter run at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Track and Field Finals held on Saturday in Kingsford.

“Today, I was just giving it all I had, leaving it all out here and I ended up with a 2:04, which beat our (school) record,” Kienitz said. “So I’m pretty pumped about that.”

His 2:04.56 was 0.93 of a second behind another senior, Josh Hester of Cedarville.

“I would rather have first place. I’ve been worried about that first place all day,” Kienitz said. “I took second. That’s not bad. That kid (Hester) is a heck of a runner.

“It’s a highlight of my life. I love it here. I’ve always dreaded track, always hated it, always did it for other sports, and I ended up being good at something and I kind of like it now. I’m going to miss it.”

IHS boys comeback

falls short in Division 2

Like many coaches do while preparing for this meet, Ishpeming’s Scott Syrjala calculated how the final standings would come out if regional seedings were used to score it.

“Manistique had almost 30 points on us,” Syrjala said during an hour-long thunderstorm that delayed the meet’s final event, the 1,600-meter relay. “So honestly, to be this close to Manistique is a real credit to our boys.

“I’m just glad we have a chance at the end.”

The Hematites trailed Manistique by four points entering the final event, and after two legs, Ishpeming would’ve made up those points.

But the Emeralds’ final two runners – senior Bryson Lawrence and junior Ryan Ramey, made up a huge deficit as Ramey nipped Ishpeming sophomore Nate Meyer at the finish line to clinch Manistique’s first boys U.P. title since 1960.

The Ishpeming coach said it would’ve been interesting if the meet had finished in a tie, because he was prepared to file a protest that may very well have been upheld.

It would’ve dealt with Ishpeming junior Derek DeCaire listed in sixth place in the 100-meter dash, even though his time was an identical 11.95 seconds to the fifth-place finisher, senior Casey Wilson of Stephenson.

If those two runners were truly declared as finishing in a dead heat, they’d split the fifth- and sixth-place points, giving Ishpeming another half-point on its total, according to Syrjala.

“I pointed it out to some of the timers, and they said we could check it at the end if it made a difference in the meet,” Syrjala said.

The meet was electronically timed through Superior Timing, which had video at the finish line of all races that could be checked, according to the Ishpeming coach.

Depth wasn’t enough for

Hematites vs.?Emeralds

While the Emeralds loaded up with six victories – two each in individual events by Ramey and senior Kenner Broullire and two relays – the Hematites actually outpointed Manistique in the two events Ramey won.

In the 400, Ramey picked up 10 points for his team by winning, but Ishpeming’s Meyer came in second, junior Adam Prisk fourth and senior Josh Whittington fifth for a total of 14 points.

And with Ramey winning the 200, senior Hunter Wirtanen came in second and Prisk third for the Hematites, giving the Marquette County team another 14 points there.

“We had a lot of seconds (places) at the regional meet, but they don’t do you a lot of good if they only become fourths, fifths or sixths at the finals,” Syrjala said. “And we had some nice finishes.”

Ishpeming did get two wins from Whittington in the long jump and a quartet in the 400 relay – Wirtanen, DeCaire, junior Tyrus Millimaki and senior Eric Kostreva.

Syrjala and Manistique boys coach Mary Lou Lund agreed that the Emeralds’ past status and still current opponents in Division 1 was a help in winning the D2 title.

“I credit the Division 1 schools,” Lund said. “They really challenged us and made us work to get better this spring.”

The excited Manistique boys who gathered around their coach and the winning 1,600 relay team had their own explanations for the Emeralds’ new-found success.

“If somebody was having a bad day, somebody else was there to pick it up for them,” an unidentified Emerald said.

Lund added that she had placed three goals for her team this spring – the regionals, the M-PCs and the U.P. finals. The Emeralds conquered them all, more than doubling anyone else’s total at the D2 regional, winning the Mid-Peninsula Conference meet by 39 points and then taking the U.P. championship by six points.

Weather nearly washed

out 1,600-meter relay

The Division 2 boys was the only one of the six meets where the final event, the 1,600 relay, could’ve decided the winner.

According to several coaches, without the close D2 boys race, event organizers in meeting with coaches during the delay would’ve more seriously considered just canceling the final event because of the deluge that flooded a few areas around the track.

With constant lightning bringing oohs, aahs and even some cheers from athletes, for awhile it looked like the meet would have to be called, possibly with a restart on Sunday or today.

But everyone’s patience paid off and the 1,600 relay was run when the lightning had been gone for a half hour, per MHSAA rules, and the rain had subsided to sprinkles.

SC’s Maki breaks

brother’s record

Like his teammate Kienitz, junior Nick Maki of Superior Central didn’t win his U.P. Finals event, the 400, coming in second to Big Bay de Noc’s Cole Potvin.

But he still accomplished a lot.

“Me and Tyler, we both wanted to get our personal records and we did,” Maki said, which was in addition to setting school records in the process.

Maki got something else with his record, too – the mark set by his older brother, Ryan Maki, in that event set about five years ago.

Area coaches weigh in on

U.P. Finals

Other coaches were happy with their teams’ performances, even if they didn’t produce U.P. championships.

“Clara Churchill and Alyssa Blake had great 800 runs today. They PR’d (personal records) by a lot and those are the kind of things you love to see your kids do at the U.P. Finals,” Negaunee girls coach Vicki Paupore said. “I had a number of those today and I’m super proud of my team.”

For the Miners boys, coach Kevin Bell said he had an efficient if not large contingent in Kingsford.

“We had 13 guys who made it to the finals, and all 13 placed in every event they were in,” Bell said.

That included a victory posted by junior Austin Caya in the pole vault, but also a trio of teammates who each had three top-six finishes and therefore scored points for the team – senior Adam Francis in the shot put, 400 and 800 relay; junior Kevin O’Keefe in the high jump, long jump and 200; and sophomore Jason Bell in the two hurdles events and 800 relay.

Westwood’s Eric Hill was also pleased.

“We had a lot of PRs,” he said. “(Sophomore) Vinnie Carlson won the 110 (high) hurdles and came close to the U.P. record. And he ran his best race in the 300s (intermediate hurdles).”

Carlson clocked 15.70 seconds in the 110, about a third of a second from the Division 2-record 15.34 set by Tony Cook of Munising in 2003.

“Our (boys) distance relays did well, like the 3,200 relay, which knocked 20 or 30 seconds off their best time,” Hill said.

His young Patriots girls, with only one senior who wasn’t even at the finals, set a number of personal records Saturday.

“If we can win a medal at the U.P. Finals, it’s an incentive to try to come back here in the future,” HIll said.

Detmers: The greatest

sport is track and field

Marquette boys coach Kyle Detmers, whose Redmen finished fourth in Division 1, summed it up for the track and field junkies.

“In my opinion, the greatest sport is track and field, the most fun to watch and difficult,” he said. “We coach the greatest kids in the country right here in the Upper Peninsula and my hat goes off to (Division 1 meet winner) Gladstone and all the other teams.”