Prep track: Munising’s Bradley adds points in pole vault to join multi-winning teammates

MARQUETTE – He didn’t win multiple events like teammates Andy Cooper, Austin Kelto and Brett Hannah.

But sophomore Blaine Bradley may have put on the most amazing performance of any Munising athlete at the Superior Dome Division 3 high school boys track and field meet on Thursday afternoon.

Bradley placed second in the pole vault after clearing 10 feet, 3 inches, some nine inches behind winner Alex Mathias of Bark River-Harris.

What was amazing is that Bradley had never attempted a vault in his life until two weeks ago.

“The secret is Coach Peramaki,” said Bradley in an unassuming way despite the Mohawk haircut he had carefully crafted for Thursday.

Coach Peramaki is Mustangs assistant coach Matt Peramaki, who with his wife Anne led the Munising Baptist-Grand Marais co-op program for several years until their daughter, Michaela, transferred to Munising this school year.

The pole vault is generally considered the most technical event on the prep level, difficult to master for most and downright hazardous for a few who struggle with it.

But Michaela Peramaki, a veteran of the event despite only being a freshman, said Bradley is a natural.

“You have to be strong to lift yourself up over the bar and you have to be a good athlete,” she said, adding that Bradley has those traits as a wrestler, too. “And you have to be kind of fearless, too.”

“I was hoping to clear 10 feet by the end of the season,” Bradley said, but added that the event feels like a “natural” for him.

In the past, he’s run the 800 and some hurdles events until he volunteered to give the pole vault a try after the Mustangs didn’t have a vaulter last season.

On this day, Munising didn’t need Bradley’s quick study of the pole vault after amassing 144 points, more than 25 up on runner-up Rapid River and better than 50 ahead of third-place Pickford.

Superior Central finished seventh with 31 points while Munising Baptist, which isn’t co-oping with Grand Marais this season, was 10th with nine.

Cooper, whose family moved to Munising from Whitewater, Wis., since last track season, won the high jump, 200- and 400-meter dashes and ran a leg with the Mustangs’ winning 1,600 relay.

“I haven’t been able to actually high jump, but I’ve been working on other things in the gym,” said Cooper, a junior, about his field event in practice at his school. “We work on the lean and the approach and the steps.”

He explained that his coaches would mark where those final steps before approaching the bar were going in an effort to make better leaps.

Cooper actually shared first place in the high jump with teammate Alex Hill after both cleared 6-foot-4.

His other wins were a bit more comfortable as he beat Kelto in the 200 by 0.23 of a second and won the 400 by more than three seconds. The Mustangs’ 1,600 relay came up with a nearly seven-second victory, a team that also included Kelto, Hannah and Garrett Blank.

Kelto took the 100 by just seven-hundredths of a second over Superior Central’s Greg Seppanen and claimed what had to be a tiebreaker win over Pickford’s Jared Hatfield in the long jump, considering that Kelto was listed as leaping 19-2.01 and Hatfield had 19-2.00.

Hannah added a win in the 1,600 by nearly 10 seconds and came in second in the 800.

Seppanen was SC’s bright spot with the runner-up finish in the 100 and third in the 200, less than a second behind Cooper.

Cougars teammate Ian McInnis was third in the shot put, while Nick Maki was third in the 800. Maki and Seppanen were joined by Luke Leppanen and Misha Carlson on SC’s third-place 3,200 relay team.

Freshman Grady Kerst scored all of Munising Baptist’s points, coming in fourth in the 800, within four seconds of winner Dan Blair of Rapid River, and fifth in the 1,600.

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