KINGSFORD — At 5-2, Ironwood freshman Rachel Hudacek doesn’t stand very high, but she jumps high, higher than anyone else in Division 2 in the Upper Peninsula on Saturday.
The bar was just two inches shorter than her and she cleared it.
Her 5-0 mark in the high jump made her a U.P. champion at Saturday’s Division 2 U.P. track-and-field finals in Kingsford. Cole Stevens picked up Ironwood’s other U.P. championship, with a 12-0 mark in the pole vault.
“She’s not very tall, but she’s got great spring,” Ironwood coach Ted Sim said. “She works real hard. She’s proof that good hard work, you can win.”
The big stage, including a TV camera focused on her, didn’t seem to keep her grounded.
“She’s really quiet,” Sim said. “She’s become more and more confident as the year has went on. She’s jumping really well right now. She’s going to do real well before she’s done.”
Hudacek was really excited about winning. She said the TV camera made her nervous. So did the sport when she first started.
“In seventh grade, the track coach put me in it,” she said. “Then I had no idea how to do it and I was so afraid. But I did really good and I just kept with it.”
Norway’s Alexis Kallenbach took second with a jump of 4-11. Hudacek was just three inches off the highest mark of the day in any division.
That came in Division 3 at 5-3 by Mid-Peninsula’s Kelsey Shope.
Stevens broke a long drought of U.P. pole vault champions from Ironwood. The Red Devils have had some strong pole vaulters here over the years, but none of them have won since Jeremy Richards in the early 1990s.
“We’ve had some great vaulters that have come here and never won,” Sim said. “This is the first time we’ve had one in a while. That’s what we told him today. We said, ‘Your goal is to win.’ Once you win, if you want to go for the records, but we want you to win.”
Stevens sounded disappointed, even after winning a U.P. title, because he didn’t break the U.P. record.
“I would have liked to have gone higher,” he said. “I cleared 13 in the past. It would have been nice. The Division 2 record is 12-6. I went for 12-7 and didn’t make it. A little disappointing, but it’s still a good day.”
The winning pole vault mark in all three divisions was 12-0.
Freshman teammate Issac Aukee tied for fourth at 11-0.
Ironwood sophomore Jared Joki finished second in the 1,600 run, 1.3 seconds behind Iron Mountain’s Dan Kulas. Joki took third in the 3,200; Kulas won that, too.
Joki’s time of 4:43.33 was a personal best in the 1,600.
“He had a great mile,” Sim said. “I think he kind of surprised himself how close he was to that kid from Iron Mountain; he’s a good runner.”
Ironwood junior Jessica Gering took third in the 1,600, fourth in 3,200 and sixth in the 800 . She was a member of the 3,200 relay team that took sixth. Other runners on that relay team included: Hannah Palmeter, Neva Bentley and Sarah Johnson.
“She’s done well,” Sim said of Gering. “She’s in four events today, so she’s got a full load. She’s had a good season.”
It was a good day for the Red Devils boys and girls teams.
“We didn’t bring many kids, but the ones we brought have performed real well,” Sim said. “We’re not losing many.”
The D-2 U.P. Finals shot put record set by Andrea Smith of Ironwood in 2001 fell to West Iron County’s Megan Miatech. Miatech finished at 34-10, six inches ahead of Smith’s mark. WIC won the girls team title with 144 points. Manistique was second at 97. Ironwood had 22 team points.
Manistique won the boys title with 102 points, just six points ahead of Ishpeming. Ironwood finished with 27 points. It was Manistique’s first championship in 53 years.