HURLEY — Just two days before an even bigger stage, Ironwood came away with both individual titles and were a tiebreaker away from the girls team crown at Thursday’s Indianhead Conference Championships.
Ironwood’s Jared Joki pulled ahead of Drummond’s Steven Carlson on the final loop behind the Hurley K-12 School and Ironwood’s Jessica Gering won the girls race.
The Devil girls tied with South Shore with 49 points. The first tiebreaker is the sixth-place runner, but neither team had more than five. It was then the total score of the first four runners, which South Shore won 26-34.
The U.P. Finals are Saturday at Gentz Homestead Golf Course in Harvey.
Gering doesn’t plan to run anywhere today.
“You feel a lot of pressure, too, from everyone and you don’t have a lot of rest in between,” she said. “Recovery day (today). This was kind of like a warm-up for Saturday.”
The Hurley girls were third with 57 and Washburn was fourth with 58.
Gering provided Ironwood with its only top five, while South Shore had the third, fourth and fifth place runners. That was enough for South Shore to overcome the fourth runner taking 17th because Ironwood only had one other top 10 runner, Sarah Johnson in 10th.
South Shore won the first conference race, but only nine points seperated all four teams. Washburn took the second meet with eight points between the three teams; Ironwood didn’t even have enough runners for a team.
The Devils nearly won the conference race that mattered Thursday.
“I had a feeling it was going to be tight throughout the season and today. I didn’t think it was going to be that tight,” Ironwood coach Ben Schmandt said. “Is it a little heartbreaking? Yeah. Because you want to see that No. 1 by you. But both teams ran exceptionally well.”
He told the Devils to use that result as motivation for Saturday.
“Maybe having the results today, it stays in their heads a little bit,” Schmandt said. “Where if we had this last week, you had days to let it slip by. Now you have to turn around and 48 hours later, it’s fresh in your mind, let’s get that fire and motivation back.”
Gering finished in 16:09.0, ahead of Washburn’s Ketzel Levens, who finished in 16:20.8.
“I knew she was going to be close to me, so I just tried taking off right and staying out there,” Gering said. “She was close the whole way, so that kind of kept me going.”
Kirkie Pecotte finished eighth to lead Hurley and sister Gabby was ninth.
“It came down basically what I thought it was going to, a couple places here and there,” Hurley coach Hope Bretting said. “All of our girls PR’ed and they ran exactly like I wanted them to. I couldn’t ask for more from them. Disappointing, but I’m proud.”
The WIAA Division 3 sectional is Oct. 25 at Bruce with the top teams advancing to state. Chequamegon is heavily favored to win with other teams fighting for that second spot, Bretting said. Washburn and South Shore are at the same sectional.
“We’ll be ready to go again on Friday,” Bretting said. “Each race is a brand new race and the girls are looking forward to running on Friday and redeeming themselves for today.”
Rachel Mazurek was Bessemer’s only runner; she took 16th.
The best race of the day was Joki beating Drummond’s Steven Carlson, 17:21.3 to 17:25.0. They were running neck-and-neck the entire way until Joki pulled away on the second loop behind the school.
“During the race it seemed like we were switching spots throughout the whole time,” Joki said. “In the last loop, it wasn’t that long before the finish, so I tried to put some distance. I think the thing that helped me most, I tried to surge on the turns and I think that gave me some momentum.”
Joki swept the three Indianhead races this season, just like Gering.
“He knows where to go as far as how much energy to put in at certain spots and where to set himself up for the race,” Schmandt said. “He ran an excellent race.”
Joki was trying to stay in front to slow down with the U.P. Finals coming up so soon.
“It was pretty tough to do that,” he said. “Right at the finish, I jogged it in a little bit, but that was it. It was a really nice race, though.”
Joki repeated as conference champion. He hopes that doesn’t affect his day two days later on Saturday.
“I’m not too worried. It could affect me, but I’ll just try to rest up for Saturday,” he said.
Schmandt was happy with the boys team’s finish.
“The guys ran really well,” he said. “I think this is our fourth year in the conference. We’ve gone from having no boys team my first year to finishing third in the title match. That is our highest placing, as far as I know, in the conference. I’m exceptionally proud of them. They ran well.”
The U.P. Finals are pretty wide open with no dominant team like Drummond there, Schmandt said.
Bessemer’s Zack Mazurek finished third, edging Washburn’s Colin Liphart by a hundred of a second. Wakefield-Marenisco’s Sam Dean took seventh.
Dakota Rice led Hurley in 13th and Brad Vaara finished 16th.
“Dakota had a fantastic race and finally raced like we knew he could all season,” Bretting said. “Brad definitely had a heartbreaking race to watch just because of how hard he works and knowing he could be so much better than that performance showed.”
The U.P. Finals Division 2 girls race is at 10:30 a.m. CDT, followed by Division 3 at 11. The D-2 boys are at noon with D-3 at 12:30 p.m.
Winner: Jessica Gering, Ironwood, 16:09.0.
Hurley: 8. Kirkie Pecotte, 17:10.4; 9. Gabby Pecotte, 17:18.2; 12. Kayla Subert, 18:08.4; 19. Morgan Pinardi, 19:03.2; 21. Rachel Fedora, 19:26.0; 23. Tori Colassaco, 19:47.8; 25. Sam Lardinois, 19:57.5.
Ironwood: 10. Sarah Johnson, 17:58.4; 14. Corissa Mattson, 18:09.4; 15. Katie Piispanen, 18:24.0; 18. Neva Bentley, 18:59.5.
Bessemer: 16. Rachel Mazurek, 18:25.1.
Winner: Jared Joki, Ironwood, 17:21.3.
Ironwood: 17. Michael Barto, 19:29.0; 22. Tim Lorenson, 20:19.0; 23. Jerad Hinds, 20:27.8; 29. Colin Clausen, 21:22.1; 39. Ryan Sobolewski, 22:39.2; 43. Adam Magdziak, 23:55.8.
Bessemer: 3. Zack Mazurek, 17:48.5.
Wakefield-Marenisco: 7. Sam Dean, 18:31.7; 26. Isiah Sturkel, 20:38.8; 46. Jake Cox, 25:30.8.
Hurley: 13. Dakota Rice, 18:53.5; 16. Brad Vaara, 19:17.2; 25. Luke Marczak, 20:37.3; 27. Cody Starkey, 20:39.3; 38. Adam Hendricks, 22:34.9; 44. Colten Dowd, 23:59.2.
Mercer: 40. James Reichard, 22:46.1; 42. Lucas Huybrecht, 23:47.4; 45. Kyle Lukes, 24:38.8; 47. John Klopatek, 26:15.9; 48. John Cassiani, 35:14.7.