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Jets runners Deno, Kleikamp finish in Top 5 at North Central Invitational

By John Vrancic

For the Daily News

POWERS — The Rapid River boys crowded the top of the standings here Tuesday as they retained their North Central Invitational cross country title with 31 points.

Runner-up North Central scored 53, and Mid Peninsula didn’t field a complete team.

The host Jets’ Tristin Deno finished fifth.

“I know this was a small meet, but we’ll take it,” said Rockets’ coach Zach Truitt. “This was our first win this season, and we ran some good times. This was a good workout before the U.P. Finals.”

Mid Pen, which had the only full girls’ team, had 15 points.

“This was an important tune-up for the Finals,” said Mid Pen coach Mark Branstrom. “The meet was scheduled for the 19th, but the girls had volleyball. Cheri (North Central coach) Granquist talked to the athletic director, and it all worked out. We’re thankful to have this opportunity.”

The Rapid River boys, who grabbed the top four places, were led by senior Ishmael Hernandez, who covered the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 55 seconds on this cloudy and chilly afternoon.

He was followed by senior twins Max and Ben Lenaker at 20:44 and 21:43, respectively. Junior Jaiden McCarty took fourth (22:21), and North Central’s Tristan Deno finished with 22:31.

Mid Pen senior Daisy Englund cruised to victory in 21:26, followed by junior teammate Landry Koski (23:13) and Rapid River senior Taylor VanOss (24:12).

North Central’s Gracie Kleikamp finished fifth.

“We needed this meet, I think,” said Englund. “This keeps my thought process going about what I have to do at the U.P. Finals. I like this course better than the one they had here last year. I also like having the four-wheeler in front. I can kind of pace myself with that. It was a little cold, but this is better than running in the heat.”

Koski, who goes to Munising Saturday as defending Upper Peninsula Division 3 champion, also liked the conditions.

“It actually felt pretty good running,” she said. “My legs felt pretty good, but at 1 1/2 miles it started raining. My arms got cold and it was hard to move them.”

Boys

Rapid River 31, North Central 53, Mid Peninsula NTS

Top five — 1, Ishmael Hernandez, Rapid River, 18:55; 2, Max Lenaker, Rapid River, 20:44; 3, Ben Lenaker, Rapid River, 21:43; 4, Jaiden McCarty, Rapid River, 22:21; 5, Tristan Deno, North Central, 22:31.

Girls

Mid Peninsula 15, Rapid River and North Central NTS

Top five — 1, Daisy Englund, Mid Peninsula, 21:26; 2, Landry Koski, Mid Peninsula, 23:13; 3, Taylor VanOss, Rapid River, 24:12; 4, Tia Nummilien, Mid Peninsula, 24:53; 5, Gracie Kleikamp, North Central, 27:00.

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