Prep girls track: Negaunee wins wintery MHSAA U.P. Division 1 regional title

NEGAUNEE – Neither rain, nor snow, nor darn cold temperatures for the middle of May could keep the Negaunee girls track team from its appointed duties on Thursday.

The Miners’ task was to defend their MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 regional track and field championship, and NHS did it with ease to take the title for the sixth straight year.

With enough snow falling during the late afternoon and early evening to cover most of the infield grass, Negaunee scored 79 points to 43 for runner-up Calumet. Houghton was third with 34, followed by Kingsford with 26 and Gwinn 5.

The top four finishers in each race, both individual and relays for Division 1, move on to the U.P. Finals to be held in Kingsford on Saturday, May 31.

So top-four finishes were just as important as piling up points, according to veteran Miners coach Vicki Paupore.

“This was a great day for us with so many outstanding finishes, especially considering the weather,” Paupore said. “Of course, our times might not be so great, but our girls toughed it out. This is the worst weather I’ve seen at this meet in my 20 years or so. This was snowball-making weather.”

Junior Katelyn Johnson, who won the 100-meter hurdles, said the Miners had a secret to success – senior Aubri Romback.

“Aubri gave a great pep talk before we started,” Johnson said. “She said that we might not get our personal records today, but every day is still a good day.”

Negaunee went out and won three of the first four running events, not to mention taking a majority of the field events that were decided before most of the races were held.

As she has all season, Miners freshman Aleda Johnson had a big day, taking part in three wins and coming in second in another to senior teammate Clara Churchill.

Johnson won the pole vault, 400-meter dash and ran the anchor leg of the winning 1,600 relay while missing first place by less than two seconds in the 800.

Churchill added wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays to go with her 800 victory.

“Somebody forgot to tell Clara and Aleda that it was cold today,” Paupore said. “It was like it didn’t make any difference to them.”

Senior Wyleen Kniola won the long jump and ran with the 3,200 relay, while junior Hailee Richards took the discus with a personal-best 101 feet.

Juniors Emilee Lokken and Ashley Tresedder both ran with the 1,600 and 3,200 relay victors.

Gwinn’s best finish came from sophomore Nicole Usher in the long jump, where she finished just 2 1/2 inches behind Kniola.

The Modeltowners were fourth in the 400 and 1,600 relays, with Usher on the 1,600 and sophomore Cassidy Anderson on both relays.