HANCOCK - The Houghton girls track and field team was without several of its top performers at Friday's Houghton County Invite, but the Gremlins' depth was just enough to overcome a strong challenge from Calumet.
"Calumet is always tough and it's always a battle. We had some girls step up," Houghton coach Ross Coltman said. "It gives them some confidence in their abilities and with some good competition here, they get that opportunity where they might not have otherwise."
Houghton edged Calumet 180 to 163 1/2 in the team competition paced by impressive individual performances from juniors Natalie Datto and Elisa Jurmu.
Calumet’s Tara Kiilunen leads the pack down the backstretch of the 800-meter run during Friday’s Houghton County Invite in Hancock, followed by Houghton’s Ashley Laux. Kiilunen (2:37.19) edged Laux by 1.5 seconds. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
Datto won the 300-meter low hurdles and long jump - without senior Addy Grier-Welch to contend with - while Jurmu earned personal bests while dominating discus (102 feet, 2 inches, nearly eight feet better than teammate Mackenzie Hietala, who won shot put) and winning high jump (5 feet). Jurmu was also second to Datto in the long jump.
"I didn't really think about it and went out there and did my best," Jurmu said. "It's tough (without Addy) but everyone stepped up."
The Gremlins won eight of 17 events overall, one more than the Copper Kings - the teams split the two relays - but Calumet certainly had its fair share of shining moments as well.
GIRLS: Houghton 180, Calumet 163 1/2, Lake Linden-Hubbell 80 1/2, Chassell 32, Hancock 24, Jeffers 23, Dollar Bay 15.
3,200-meter relay - 1. CALUMET (Gina Helminen, Julia Lean, Rachel Poyhonen, Tara Kiilunen), 10:40; 2. HOUGHTON; 3. LAKE LINDEN-HUBBELL; 4. DOLLAR BAY.
100-meter hurdles - 1. Kira Fowler, HOU, 17.47; 2. Terra Erkkila, CAL; 3. Sam Ozanich, DB; 4. Mackenzie Hietala, HOU; 5. Lexi Pyykkonen, JEF; 6. Amy Ruohonen, JEF.
100-meter dash - 1. Chelsea Jacques, CAL, 12.56; 2. Jamie Dompier, CHS; 3. Natalie Datto, HOU; 4. Sarah Audette, LLH; 5. Lauren Jackson, HOU; 6. Emily Linn, HOU.
800-meter relay - 1. HOUGHTON (Jackson, Crystal Massoglia, Fowler, Kelsie Richards), 2. LAKE LINDEN-HUBBELL; 3. CALUMET, 4. JEFFERS; 5. HANCOCK; 6. DOLLAR BAY.
1,600-meter run - 1. Tara Kiilunen, CAL, 5:35.27; 2. Marika Abbott, HOU; 3. Poyhonen, CAL; 4. Clara Knight, LLH; 5. Lucia Nye, DB; 6. Julia Pietila, CHS.
400-meter relay - 1. CALUMET (Lexie Rowe, Katherine Orr, Erkkila, Jacques), 53.83; 2. LAKE LINDEN-HUBBELL; 3. HOUGHTON; 4. HANCOCK; 5. JEFFERS; 6. DOLLAR BAY.
400-meter dash - 1. Dompier, CHS, 1:02.35; 2. Richards, HOU; 3. Michelle Laux, HOU; 4. Leslie Hamar, HAN; 5. Isabel Sharp, HOU; 6. Morgan Gast, LLH.
300-meter hurdles - 1. Datto, HOU, 49.22; 2. Mindy Fontaine, LLH; 3. Erkkila, CAL; 4. Pyykkonen, JEF; 5. Ashley Boomer, HAN; 6. Kayla Goodell, LLH.
800-meter run - 1. Kiilunen, CAL, 2:37.19; 2. Ashley Laux, HOU; 3. Abbott, HOU; 4. Terilynne Budreau, CAL; 5. Jessica Schlaff, HOU; 6. C. Knight, LLH.
200-meter dash - 1. Jacques, CAL, 26.47; 2. Dompier, CHS; 3. Datto, HOU; 4. Fowler, HOU; 5. Haley Makela, JEF; 6. Marissa Audette, LLH.
3,200-meter run - 1. Julia Lean, CAL, 12:01.54; 2. Meeghan Randell, JEF; 3. Evelyn DeLong, CAL; 4. Poyhonen, CAL; 5. Richards, HOU; 6. A. Laux, HOU.
1,600-meter relay - 1. HOUGHTON (Abbott, Schlaff, M. Laux, Elisa Jurmu), 4:38.09; 2. CALUMET; 3. LAKE LINDEN-HUBBELL; 4. HANCOCK; 5. DOLLAR BAY.
Discus - 1. Jurmu, HOU, 102-2; 2. Hietala, HOU; 3. Brittni Kisul, LLH; 4. Olivia Rouleau, HAN; 5. Ashley Beauchamp, LLH; 6. Taylor Shepeard, LLH.
High jump - 1. Jurmu, HOU, 5-0; 2. Carissa Pavolich, CAL; 3. Kisul, LLH; 4. Valerie Clevenger, CAL; 5. Budreau, CAL; 6T. Ashley Boomer, HAN and Gunseli Onder, CAL.
Long jump - 1. Datto, HOU, 15-8 1/2; 2. Jurmu, HOU; 3. Audette, LLH; 4. Rowe, CAL; 5. Amber Raasakka, HAN; 6. Ozanich, DB.
Pole vault - 1. Audette, LLH, 7-6; 2. Clevenger, CAL; 3T. Kaitlyn Hietala, CHS and Morgan Peters, CAL.
Shot put - 1. Hietala, HOU, 30-2 1/2; 2. Carla Helminen, CAL; 3. Martha Anderson, CAL; 4. Annika Wheeler, HOU; 5T. Shepeard, LLH and Allison Berryman, HAN.
Chassell's Jamie Dompier has won each of the three sprints numerous times this year, several times at the expense of Calumet's Chelsea Jacques, but Friday was Jacques' turn.
Dompier won the 400 by nearly five seconds in a race that Jacques did not compete in, but Jacques edged the speedy Chassell junior by five-hundredths of a second in the 100 meters (12.56-12.61) and by twelve-hundreds of a second in the 200 (26.47-26.59).
"It feels pretty good. It's my first time in the 100 beating her, and I've never raced her in the same heat," Jacques said. "I think the key was warming up, staying focused and pushing it in the end."
Sprinters were aided late by a strong tailwind that swept through Hancock's new track complex, but that same wind posed a challenge to several distance runners. The rapidly changing weather conditions added an interesting mental challenge to competitors during the second half of the meet, but a little wind wasn't going to stop Calumet's Tara Kiilunen from again dominating the long distance events.
The Copper King junior won the 1,600-meter run (5:35.27) and the 800-meter run (2:37.19), while anchoring Calumet's winning 3,200-meter relay team (10:40).
"I wasn't too jacked with any of my times, but it was successful because I got the wins," said Kiilunen, who hopes to push for the 3,200 record at U.P. Finals on June 2. "I was trying to go for better splits in the mile, but the wind on the corner (heading into the backstretch) made it tough."
Kiilunen's teammate Julia Lean continued Calumet's long distance dominance, winning the 3,200 run by a comfortable 36 seconds. Houghton's only other individual win was Kira Fowler's 100-meter hurdle victory by nearly a full second.
Lake Linden-Hubbell's only win of the day came from Sarah Audette, who edged out Calumet's Valerie Clevenger on a tiebreaker in the pole vault.
The Lakes finished the day third overall with 80.5 points, followed by Chassell's 32, Hancock's 24, Jeffers' 23 and Dollar Bay's 15.
The next major event for the Houghton County track teams is Regionals next Thursday. Houghton and Calumet will head to Negaunee in Division 1, Hancock will compete at West Iron County in Division 2 and LL-H, Dollar Bay and Chassell will challenge each other in the Division 3 Regional in Lake Linden. Jeffers is in a regional at Ontonagon Friday.