Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood's Joki, Aukee, Hudacek win U.P. titles

Several Ironwood track-and-field athletes competed in the Division 2 U.P. Track-and-Field Finals on Saturday in Kingsford. A number of good performances were turned in and the Red Devil boy's team finished fifth with 50 points, while the Ironwood girl's team was seventh with 31 points.

Both Ishpeming teams took home the gold and won by wide margins.

Ironwood coach Ted Sim was pleased with how both teams performed.

"The kids did very well overall and I was very happy with them," Sim said. "We did better than I expected and the kids performed well. It was a good day. I was really pleased with our relays, which have been an adventure. We've moved people around on the relays and patched them together.

"(Jared) Joki, (Issac) Aukee and (Rachel) Hudacek were high seeds and they came through like we thought they would."

The meet started a little early (before 9 a.m.) and Ironwood got off to a fast start in the field events. After finishing third last year, Aukee was top seed in the pole vault and when he cleared 11-6, he had his first win at the U.P. Finals.

"I feel good, happy," Aukee said. "That's not my personal best. Our school record is 12-6 and I've cleared 12-6 in practice, but today there was a head wind we had to deal with. Maybe I could have done something without the wind.

"All I know is Mr. Auv. (Pete Auvinen) is the best coach I've ever seen."

Junior Rachel Hudacek won her second U.P. championship in the high jump with a leap of 5-0. Hudacek also won the high jump as a freshman two years ago.

"It's exciting and it was a pretty good jump," Hudacek said. "It's not my best, but it was one of my better days."

After clearing 5-0 and winning the event, Hudacek had the bar raised to 5-3 1/2. There was a reason she went to that height.

"The school record is 5-3 and I thought I had a shot at it," Hudacek said. "I was confident coming in."

Hudacek's teammates said they were confident she would break the school record during the next track season.

When Cambria Rollins finished second in this event with a jump of 4-8, Ironwood picked up 18 points in the high jump.

Devon DeRosso added four points to the cause with a shot put of 36-6 that was good for fourth place.

Jared Joki has been the main man in Ironwood's track program for a long time and last year he proved it by winning the triple crown of distance running in Division 2. He won the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter races.

This year Joki chose to try and repeat in the 1600 and 3200 meter races.

In the 1600 meter race, Ishpeming's Tommy Potter put up a good fight and ran 4:45.92. But once again, Joki was not to be denied. He won in 4:43.35 but afterwards did not sound like a man happy with his win.

"I felt terrible out there," Joki said. "My hamstrings were so tight and I couldn't extend on my back-stride. I'm kind of beat up physically. I won, so I guess as a senior I'm happy. But as I trained my senior year and it's not nearly what I was hoping for. I trained hard and I wanted to be at least as good as Alan Peterson and beat his mile record.

"But then I got injured and I could see I wouldn't beat it."

But Sim said Joki shouldn't be so hard on himself.

"Jared is one of the best ever in the Ironwood track program," Sim said. "I would put him right up there with Alan Peterson and Anne Sommerville. He's been a phenomenal runner and he hasn't had the competition in our program to really push him."

The 3,200 meter race was run with both Division 1 and Division 2 runners in it and there was both a Division 1 and Division 2 winner. So even though it appeared Joki was in second place behind Marquette's Lance Randall, he was actually leading the D-2 race. And Randall gave Joki the competition he needed.

"I tried to stay with Lance, but after a mile he opened up a gap," Joki said.

"But I kept it to a minimum and I got the sub-10 minute (9:58.02) two-mile I was expecting froms myself."

Joki was also a double winner at the U.P. Finals as he won the 3,200 by almost a minute over Iron Mountain's Nate Carey.