Prep girls track: Negaunee takes WIN meet for 10th straight time

MARQUETTE – With the way the Negaunee girls track and field team has dominated for the last decade, they might have to change the name of the WIN meet to the “Miners Win” meet.

Negaunee carted off the trophy for the 10th straight time spanning 11 years – the meet wasn’t held one time several years ago – but only after coming from behind to winning the final event, the 1,600-meter relay, on Tuesday inside the Superior Dome in Marquette.

In fact, less than 10 points separated the three teams entering that final event. It includes the schools that make up the “WIN” name – Westwood, Ishpeming and Negaunee.

“This was the closest I’ve seen this meet in the last 10 years,” NHS coach Vicki Paupore said.

A Miners quartet anchored by Aleda Johnson took the 1,600 relay by better than 20 seconds, taking the pressure off the freshman phenomenon.

Johnson had a hand in four victories, taking the pole vault, 400 dash and also anchoring the 3,200 relay. Her comeback in the initial relay seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day as Negaunee scored 61 1/6 points to 59 5/6 for Ishpeming and 48 for Westwood.

“Aleda just made an awesome comeback for us in the 3,200 relay,” said Paupore, who has led the Miners teams throughout this long winning streak.

Johnson was given the baton for the last leg of the 3,200 trailing an Ishpeming rival by what she figured was “maybe about 50 meters.”

“I just wanted to run my own race and try to catch up,” Johnson said.

That strategy includes going out fast to take advantage of all the adrenalin built up in anticipation of the race, then leveling off in the middle before kicking it up a notch down the stretch.

“I purposely didn’t try to catch up right away,” Johnson said, “and her pace worked with how I wanted to run it anyway.”

She said she took the lead early in the third lap of her four, then continued to sprint for a 12-second victory.

Johnson, the starting point guard on the Miners’ varsity basketball team this winter, admits she’s “a competitive person.”

“This was a really big accomplishment,” Paupore said. “It’s always scary as a freshman to be coming in against girls who can be three years older.

“But Aleda’s a very determined girl. You can tell she always leaves everything out on the track.”

Negaunee swept the relays to make up for winning just three individual events to five each for the Hematites and Patriots.

“A score like this just goes to show you how much every point counts,” said Paupore, who gave credit to assistant coaches Brittnee Balbierz, Krista Squiers and Mary Rosten for work in their areas of expertise.

The Miners other individual win was by senior Clara Churchill, who took the 800 while also running with 1,600 and 3,200 relay winners.

Junior teammates Ashley Tresedder, Alyssa Blake and Emilee Lokken also had two relay wins each as Tresedder came in second to Ishpeming sensation Nya Surah Thomas in the 100 and 200.

Thomas, a junior who also won the 300 and long jump, transferred during the past year from the Chicago area, but had never been on a track team before.

“I played soccer so I’ve run before,” said Thomas, who had to rub a pain-relief cream on her knees after her last race. “I just have to get some good rest when I’m not running.

“But if we had a meet tomorrow, I’d be ready to go.”

“She’s just such a good raw talent,” Hematites coach Scott Syrjala said. “I can’t wait to see what she can do once she really learns how to run properly.”

Freshman teammate Marissa Maino won the shot put, while Westwood registered victories by sophomore Kathryn Etelamaki in the 1,600 and 3,200 and senior Caitlin Hewitt in the 55 hurdles and high jump.