Nordics run to U.P. title


Sports Editor

KINGSFORD – When the North Dickinson Nordics need speed, they look to Tim Hruska. If they’re looking for a prediction on the future, they may want to check with Ken Pekarek.

With Hruska collecting three U.P. titles, the Nordics fulfilled a declaration made by Pekarek near the end of basketball season by winning the U.P. Division 3 boys track and field title Saturday at Flivver Field.

“Right after basketball season Kenny said we were going to win U.P. Finals,” Nordics coach Mike Lindholm said. “I was like oh yeah, right. And now, I just can’t believe it.

They’ve had confidence all year. They are super confident, and it rubs off on the juniors too. This is a group who expects to do well in everything.”

The Nordics basically led the whole way en route to the title, collecting 77 points in the 21-school Division 3 field. Pickford was second at 51 and St. Ignace third with 48. Forest Park went 10th with 22 points.

“Our athletes have been working hard for a couple of years now, especially in football and lifting weights,” Pekarek said. “So I knew we were all strong enough to do it.

“You’ve got Timmy here, a superstar. I just legitimately thought we had an opportunity to win it. We had some letdowns today, but other guys stepped up and we pulled it off.”

Hruska went three for his first three by winning the 110 hurdles, 100 and 300 hurdles. And expecting maybe sixth or worse in the 200, Hruska ripped off a third.

“It’s just awesome,” he said. “I don’t know what happened, but I just felt like I could run faster today. Usually I get a good start and get ahead from that, but today I just ran fast the whole way through.”

Hruska ran 11.53 in the 100. He finished the 110 hurdles in 16.17, and went 41.89 in the 300 hurdles.

“He had more rest than he ever did in the smaller meets,” Lindholm said. “You either got it or you don’t. He works hard, works hard in the weight room. He’s athletic and he’s got ability. It’s a combination of all that.”

Hruska said he put in extra practice this week, and extended his practice distances on each event to boost his endurance.

“Today I just really didn’t lose and energy, just kept going,” he said. “I’m hoping I can just keep getting better for next year. I know now that I can get these times.”

Lindholm said the Nordics team win was aided by points in a few unexpected places. Brad Gustafson was seeded ninth in discus and wound up taking third.

“That was huge,” Lindholm said.

Logan O’Neil added a second in pole vault, and the 400 relay team of Dominic Christian, Jordan Neumann, Blake Lindeman and O’Neil surprised with a second-place effort.

“Everything counts,” Lindholm said. “All that stuff, everything matters. It’s a whole team. Everybody pushes each other.”

The Nordics last won the U.P. trophy in 2008.

For his part, Pekarek contributed a third in the 110 hurdles.

Derek Aberly went third for Forest Park in the 400, and the Trojans placed third in the mile relay.

Mid-Peninsula senior Brett Branstrom was also a triple winner, including his personal-best leap of 6 feet, 1 inch in high jump. He also captured shot put (47-11) and discus (153-9).

Cedarville senior Josh Hester won the 800 and 1,600 in season-best times of 2:03.63 and 4:37.79, respectively.