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Speedboys grab 3 U.P. titles


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

BESSEMER’S TAYLOR Smith, left, takes off after receiving the baton from Art Rundell, right, during the 400-meter relay Saturday at the Division 3 U.P. Finals in Kingsford. The relay team won a U.P. title.

KINGSFORD — The Bessemer Speedboys came home from the Division 3 U.P. Finals with three U.P. titles.

North Dickinson ran away with the team trophy, its 77 points ahead of second-place Pickford by 26 points. Bessemer was just five points off of second-place, finishing fifth with 46 points, one point behind Rapid River and two behind St. Ignace.

Two Bessemer relay teams, the 400 and 800, are U.P. champions. Alex Smith won the long jump with his leap of 20-5.

Taylor Smith, Derek Gheller and Art Rundell were on both champion relay teams. Jess Mazzon joined the 800 team and Alex Smith was on the 400 relay squad, which pulled ahead after the third exchange.

Gheller said they had three goals, at least in the 400.

“Beat the (school) record, (take) first and beat Wakefield,” he said. “All three accomplished.”

Wakefield-Marenisco ended up third. The relay teams went to the school early Friday morning to work on their handoffs, in large part to help make sure they beat the Cardinals.

Taylor Smith ran the second leg of the 400.

“I looked over, I saw Alex in first and I looked over there, it was 42 seconds,” Taylor Smith said. “I just started screaming, ‘We got it, we got it!’”

The Speedboys pulled ahead on the last handoff in the 800, but they said they were fast the whole way with perfect handoffs. Mazzon passed multiple runners. The team was .98 second off the school record.

“It was nice for the three seniors of (Taylor) Smith, Rundell and Gheller to end their school year and career with a record and two first-places at the U.P.s.,” Bessemer coach Mark Mazzon said. “That was nice. That’s how you wish everybody could end the ending of their high school. They really worked hard.”

Alex Smith took second in last year’s U.P. Finals in the long jump. He holds the Bessemer record in the long jump 20-9.

“First time winning U.P.s, so it’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I did a lot of training in the summer. I went to the track when no one was there and jumped and did a lot of weight training and got stronger. That really helped me this year.”

Coach Mazzon said, “He worked on his approach, his jumping. That was his love and passion.”

Bessemer’s Zack Mazurek was fifth in the 1,600 run and fourth in the 3,200, which was finished in a torrential downpour.

“I think that rejuvenated him and gave him some energy,” Mazzon said of the rain. 

The meet was delayed after that by about an hour, first because of thunder in the area, then the strongest storms of the day moved in.

Wakefield-Marenisco totaled eight team points and Ontonagon had one.

Jacob Pikka, who had won the last two U.P. shot put titles in D-3, came in sixth with a put of 45-.5. Pikka had better marks in the last two seasons. Three-event winner Brett Branstrom of Mid-Peninsula was first at 47-11.5. Branstrom, who recently committed to play basketball at Northern Michigan University, also won the discus and high jump.

W-M’s 400 relay team took third with team members Pikka, Eric Lane, Aaron Cook and Caleb Winkler.

Ontonagon’s Aaron Kaikko picked up the Gladiators’ only point. He took sixth in the 400-meter dash in 54.56.


St. Ignace won its fourth straight girls title with 121 points, 64 points better than runner-up Brimley. Ontonagon took ninth place with 21 points; Bessemer was 12th with 15.

Ontonagon’s top finisher was hurdler Lori Wardynski. She was second in the 100 hurdles and third in the 300. In the 100 race, she finished just .04 second behind Pickford’s Kim Cruickshank.

Valerie Rowe’s fourth-place finishes in the 300 hurdles – from the slow heat – and the pole vault were Bessemer’s highest finishes of the day. Brenna Bogaczyk placed fifth in the high jump, discus and shot put.

“She has one more year to bring those fifths and fourths a little bit closer to firsts and seconds,” Mazzon said. “(Rowe) did well in the hurdles and pole vault.”

Wakefield-Marenisco picked up one team point. Bethany Engel finished sixth in the high jump at 4-10, five inches off the winning mark set by Kelsey Shope of Mid-Peninsula.

Chassell’s Jamie Dompier swept the dashes and St. Ignace’s Sarah Cullip won all three distance races.

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