Prep boys track: Kingsford outdistances itself in relays to beat Negaunee for MHSAA U.P. Division 1 regional title

NEGAUNEE – Kingsford proved what a deep team it has by sweeping all four relays en route to the championship at a high school boys regional track meet on Thursday.

The Flivvers scored 80 points at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 meet held in Negaunee on a day best represented by shaking a snow globe and watching the big flakes float down.

“Our kids were tough and competed and did well,” KHS coach Doug Roberts said. “They paid attention to the details to make sure they got through their events.”

The host Miners were runners-up with 56 points, while Houghton finished third with 27, Calumet had 14 and Gwinn 10.

“We have a great group of seniors this year. There’s about 12 of them,” Negaunee coach Kevin Bell said. “We definitely want as many kids as possible to qualify for the U.P. Finals, but that goes hand-in-hand with winning for the team.

“You should feel fortunate if you get to the finals. It’s a hard thing to do.”

In Division 1, the top four finishers in each individual and relay event qualify for the finals to be held in Kingsford on Saturday, May 31.

The victorious Fliivers won just four individual events to six for the Miners. But sweeping all four relays with just one close call, and getting multiple scorers in four of the nine other events, was a formula for Kingsford’s success.

Not to mention when the Flivvers effectively doubled up on their 1-2-3-4 sweep in the 800-meter run.

Well before the domination by seniors Jake Allen and Lucas Jennings and juniors Taylor Wickman and Austin Stanchina, the quartet ran and hid in the meet’s first race, the 3,200 relay. Kingsford clocked in at 9 minutes, 1.10 seconds, nearly 23 seconds ahead of runner-up Houghton.

Allen also took the 400 and ran with his team’s winning 1,600 relay to become the day’s lone four-time winner among all boys and girls.

“The big thing was I had to make sure to stay loose when it’s cold like this,” Allen said on a toasty school bus before the 1,600 relay. “I don’t think it could be a whole lot better than this.”

Junior teammate Jaxson Ferree ran on the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay units, while Quintin Pratt, Cole Tengesdahl and Tyler Roberts joined him on the 800 relay. Pratt and Tengesdahl were also on the 400 relay and Roberts on the 1,600 quartet.

Kingsford senior Jonah Carlson added a win in the discus and sophomore teammate Brandon Kowalkowski in the high jump.

For the Miners, senior Kevin O’Keefe sprinted to victory in the 100 and 200, junior Jason Bell in the 110 high and 300 intermediate hurdles, senior Tyler Thomas in the shot put and senior Austin Caya in the pole vault by clearing an amazing 12-feet under the treacherous conditions.

Gwinn was paced by junior Luke Redlon taking third in the high jump, though the Modeltowners added top-three finishes in three relays with senior Jesse McGovern and junior Olai Ronnestad taking part in each.