Running that ‘gnarly’ 400 dash


Sports Writer

KINGSFORD – Leftover items from the 13th U.P. Track & Field Finals held at Flivver Field:

– Norway great Dani Gagne dreaded running the 400-meter dash, a grueling all-out, one-lap sprint around the track.

Iron Mountain’s Hailey Lafleur and Chassell’s Jamie Dompier understand Gagne’s feelings.

“The 400 dash is the worst race in the world,” said Lafleur, who called Gagne an “amazing athlete.”

Lafleur, running the 400 since the seventh grade, captured the U.P. Division 2 title in 1:03.22.

“That is my race,” said the long-striding senior, who also won the 100-meter dash.

Dompier wrapped up her career with seven U.P. sprint titles in five seasons.

“The 400 is just the craziest event ever,” Dompier said. “That’s just gnarly, and it’s a good challenge, and as much as I say I hate it at the end, it’s still fun to run.”

– Rapid River Coach Steve Ostrenga, on North Dickinson winning its first U.P. boys title in five years: “Their kids rose to the occasion. They certainly performed in the hurdles (with 32 points scored in the 110 and 300 races).”

Nordic junior Tim Hruska copped the 100-meter dash in 11.53 seconds, 110 hurdles (16.17) and 300s in a personal-best 41.89.

– Kingsford’s 800-meter relay of Carlee Benzie, Andrea Roell, Hannah Tresedder and Emma Williams broke the school record with a 1:49.79.

With Lisa (Roell) Harry coaching and two of the relay members named Benzie and Roell, it’s not a surprise that a North Dickinson track technique played a role.

“I have to give a shout-out to my track coach Mr. (Paul) Feak,” Harry said. “I think we’re the only team going with an old school handoff. It’s not the traditional over the top. It’s an under handoff.

“But we got a record with those handoffs.”

Feak guided the Nordics girls to Class D titles in 1984 and 1989.

– Gladstone’s boys copped the U.P. Division 1 title without Coach Gary Whitmer, who was unable to make the trip to Kingsford after suffering a broken sternum in an automobile accident Friday.

– West Iron County scored in all 17 events and took seven firsts in winning the U.P. Division 2 girls title. Coach Kristi Berutti’s Wykons amassed 144 points to 97 for runner-up Manistique.

“We knew we had to be at our A-plus game to beat West Iron,” Emeralds coach Chris Marana said. “Our girls definitely competed hard, but West Iron was on top of its game.”

– From Superior Central’s Tyler Kleinitz, who ran a school-record 2:04.56 to finish second in the 800-meter run: “It’s a highlight of my life. I love it here. I’ve always dreaded track, always hated it, always did it for other sports, and I ended up being good at something and I kind of like it now. I’m going to miss it.”

– Marquette Mining Journal, citing several coaches, reported the meet was nearly canceled when foul weather (heavy rain, lightning) put the final event on hold for more than an hour.

“Without the close D2 boys race, event organizers in meeting with coaches during the delay would’ve more seriously considered just canceling the final event because of the deluge that flooded a few areas around the track,” Mining Journal writers Steve Brownlee and Jon Young stated.

Manistique topped Ishpeming 102-96 for the championship. In the meet-ending 1600 relay, Emeralds edged the Hematites by less than a second.

A Daily News representative was two feet away from Kingsford athletic director and U.P. track director Al Unger, and did not hear anything about calling off the meet. Unger and the volunteers who weathered the storm deserve credit for their safety-first approach of the situation.

The last U.P. track meet with a lengthy delay occurred in 1999, according to track authority John Vrancic. Marquette coach Dale Phillips recalled pole vaulting was going on after 9 p.m.

– Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden broke three U.P. and personal records (1600, 800, 3200) along with anchoring the 3200-meter relay. And all this from a first-year runner.

“It’s really exciting for me because I’m only a freshman and I don’t really know track that well,” she said.

– Negaunee, coached by Niagara grad Vickie (Leathers) Paupore, trailed only champion Marquette in the final Division 1 girls standings.

“The girls knew that they had to run tough today,” Paupore said. “We knew that Marquette was a heavy favorite, so we figured it was going to be a battle for second. The girls really performed and did what they needed to do.”

– Kingsford’s Cole Tengesdahl, with just the fifth-fastest regional time (11.50), surprised some by taking the Division 1 100-meter dash in 11.26.

“He (Tengesdahl) came out of nowhere,” said Menominee’s Shaun Sullivan, who finished third. “His start just blew us away. We almost caught him at the end but he got us.”

– From Marquette boys coach Kyle Detmers: “In my opinion, the greatest sport is track and field, the most fun to watch and difficult. We coach the greatest kids in the country right here in the Upper Peninsula.”

– Ironwood sophomore Jared Joki followed Iron Mountain’s Daniel Kulas in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs. Joki posted a personal-best of 4:43.33 in the 1600 for second; Kulas was at 4:42.03.

“He had a great mile,” Ironwood Coach Ted Sim said of Joki. “I think he kind of surprised himself how close he was to that kid from Iron Mountain. He’s a good runner.”

(A variety of U.P. media sources contributed to this story)