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Kingsford’s Wenzel, Kulas finish 1-2 in cross country

By John Vrancic

For the Daily News

BANAT — It was a bittersweet day for the Escanaba cross country teams here Thursday.

Shortly before the start of the Stephenson (Dale Fountain) Invitational, the Eskymos learned that in-person classes were canceled at their school until Oct. 12 due to Covid-19, forcing them to cancel Saturday’s Esky Invitational and drop the Munising and Gladstone Invitationals.

“The kids were really down when they found that out,” said Esky coach Dominique Bougie. “We were missing a couple boys who were being quarantined. We tried to give the kids a pep talk and told them to run this meet like it was their last. Despite the circumstances, the kids ran through it and did well. We’re going to work hard. We’re going to do virtual practices and make the best of the situation. We’re hoping to be back on the 12th.”

Esky senior Derek Douglas earned his first victory by covering the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 26.3 seconds. He was followed by Kingsford junior Luke Ruble (19:20.3), Stephenson senior Griffin Brown (19:48.4) and fellow Esky senior Brodey Bevins (19:59.9) on this cloudy and seasonably cool day.

The Stephenson boys won with 30 points, followed by Esky 48 and Norway 75.

Stephenson, which had the lone full girls’ team, had 15 points.

Kingsford seniors Melanie Wenzel and Sarah Kulas placed 1-2 in 22:41.9 and 22:44.9, respectively. Stephenson senior Kylee Kuntze placed third (22:57.7).

“I kind of wanted to go out fast and establish position,” Wenzel said after her first victory this season. “I also wanted to go hard on the last hill. We worked on our speed and had a couple good workouts this week.”

Kulas had a similar strategy in mind.

“I wanted to stay with Mel,” she said. “We had a couple hot days in practice, and I think it prepared us for today. We had only four runners, but they all placed. We’re pretty happy about that.”

Coach Dan Carey says he’s pleased with the progress shown by the Flivvers.

“We’re getting better,” he added. “We’re missing some girls due to illness, but we’ll be back in full force Tuesday (at the Munising Invitational). Overall, the girls ran well.”

Norway’s Alex Linsenbigler finished seventh overall, followed by teammate Jeff VanHolla.

Taylor Adams, Norway’s lone girl runner, finished sixth overall. The Knights will join Kingsford in the Munising Invite on Tuesday.

Boys

Stephenson 30, Escanaba 48, Norway 75, North Central 90, Rapid River 98, Kingsford NTS.

Top 10 — 1, Derek Douglas, Escanaba, 18:26.3; 2, Luke Ruble, Kingsford, 19:20.3; 3, Griffin Brown, Stephenson, 19:48.4; 4, Brodey Bevins, Escanaba, 19:59.9; 5, Ethyn Lusardi, Stephenson, 20:05.8; 6, Buckly Corey, Stephenson, 20:49.7; 7, Alex Linsenbigler, Norway, 21:15.9; 8, Jeff VanHolla, Norway, 21:16.6; 9, Viktor Pospisil, Escanaba, 21:16.8; 10, Don Strazzinski, Stephenson, 21:57.5.

Girls

Stephenson 15. Kingsford, Rapid River, Escanaba, North Central, Norway NTS.

Top 10 — 1, Melanie Wenzel, Kingsford, 22:41.9; 2, Sarah Kulas, Kingsford, 22:44.9; 3, Kylee Kuntze, Stephenson, 22:57.7; 4, Taylor VanOss, Rapid River, 23:51.7; 5, Morgan Makosky, Escanaba, 24:04.7; 6, Taylor Adams, Norway, 24:30.6; 7, Annabelle Neumeier, Escanaba, 24:33.5; 8, Ciara Ostrenga, Escanaba, 24:38.4; 9, Jada Kuntze, Stephenson, 25:44.1; 10, Evalyn Labs, Stephenson, 26:03.2.

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