For the Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN – Iron Mountain High School’s Nate Carey is in the process of putting together a solid cross country season.

The sophomore harrier earned runner-up honors in Tuesday’s Kingsford Invitational, covering the hilly 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, three seconds at Iron Mountain City Park.

“With every race, Nate is learning how to be up in the front and he’s pushing himself,” said Kingsford coach Dan Carey. “He’s young and learning as he goes. As a team, we’re where we need to be at this point in the season.”

Marquette sophomore Lance Rambo won in 17:49, followed by Carey, Escanaba junior Eric Cousineau (18:26), Stephenson junior Connor Cappaert (18:35) and Houghton’s Isaac Stone (18:46) on this rainy and mild day.

North Central freshman Seth Polfus was the area’s next highest finisher in ninth (19:22).

“I was trying to come back on the steep hill (approximately 2 1/2 miles into the race), but I’m happy with second,” said Nate. “Lance is having a nice season and Eric is also very strong.

“The weather conditions were perfect. I like running in the rain. The temperatures are more comfortable than they were earlier today.”

Escanaba took home the team title with 40 points, followed by Marquette 71, Houghton 105, Negaunee 120 and Kingsford 144.

Rambo broke open a tight race by gaining some separation in the final half-mile.

“I definitely think the downhills were a big factor,” said Rambo. “I like hilly courses, which made this one fun. There were so many people behind me who fell on the course. I probably should have worn spikes.

“I dedicated this race to one of my dad’s friends (Paul Butterfield) who died in a shooting downstate (on Monday).”

The Redmen ran without their top runner, senior Cole Riebolt, who was playing in a high school soccer match Tuesday.

Marquette, placing seven among the top nine, captured the girls’ crown with 22 points. They were followed by Escanaba 76, Houghton 79 and Gladstone 80.

The Redettes were led by freshman Amber Huebner, who won in 20:37. She was followed by Gladstone freshman Leigha Woelffer (21:12), Marquette’s Calla Martysz (21:16), Esky junior Aimee Giese (21:48) and Marquette’s Nicole Mackey (21:51).

Marquette ran without its top runner, sophomore Lindsey Rudden. who was feeling a bit under the weather.

“I hadn’t run in the rain before, but it was fun,” said Huebner. “What I think helps us is we practice a lot on hills. They still tend to make our times slower, but it’s all mental. You just have to push through it. We run as a pack and push each other. Lindsey especially pushes me a lot. We really enjoy running with each other. At first, it didn’t feel right without her. Then, I remembered Lindsey told me to win it for her before we left the school.”

Kingsford junior Hannah Allen, who finished 22nd, was the area’s pacesetter.

“Our girls are young and they’re fighting through some sickness and injuries,” said coach Carey. “This is a big learning experience, but I think we have a good beginning for the next couple years.”

Kingsford Invitational At Iron Mountain City Park:

Boys – Escanaba 40, Marquette 71, Houghton 105, Negaunee 120, Kingsford 144, Stephenson 221, Gladstone 229, Carney-Nadeau 230, Goodman-Pembine, Wis. and Westwood 274, Norway 281, Marquette North Star Academy 345, Florence, Wis., North Central and West Iron County NTS.

Top 10 – 1, Lance Rambo, Marquette, 17:49; 2, Nate Carey, Kingsford, 18:03; 3, Eric Cousineau, Escanaba, 18:26; 4, Connor Cappaert, Stephenson 18:35; 5, Isaac Stone, Houghton, 18:46; 6, Jordan Ogren, Escanaba, 18:53; 7, Joey Wolfe, Escanaba, 18:55; 8, Logan Zueger, Marquette, 19:16; 9, Seth Polfus, North Central, 19:22; 10, Grant Johnson, Negaunee, 19:26.

Girls – Marquette 22, Escanaba 76, Houghton 79, Gladstone 80, Negaunee 146, Kingsford 167, Stephenson 209, Westwood 254, West Iron County, Florence, Wis., Norway, North Central, Carney-Nadeau and Goodman-Pembine, Wis. NTS.

Top 10 – 1, Amber Huebner, Marquette, 20:37; 2, Leigha Woelffer, Gladstone, 21:12; 3, Calla Martysz, Marquette, 21:16; 4, Aimee Giese, Escanaba, 21:48; 5, Nicole Mackey, MQT, 21:51; 6, Hannah Detmer, MQT, 21:57; 7, Cassidy Thomas, MQT, 22:02; 8, Shayla Huebner, MQT, 22:07; 9, Abby Potts, MQT, 22:07.5; 10, Noelle Polakowski, Houghton, 23:07.