INDIAN RIVER – You hear the saying “pulling off the upset” when it comes to a lot of sports.
But you don’t seem to hear it as often in track and field.
On a rainy Wednesday evening on their home track, the Inland Lakes girls track and field teams pulled off a shocker.
Fueled by a stellar all-around team showing, the Bulldogs captured their first Ski Valley Conference championship since 2017 by stunning heavy favorite Johannesburg-Lewiston, outlasting the Cardinals by a 164-150 score at Shanley Field.
In the hours leading up to the meet, Furman sarcastically asked a question to herself.
“’How many times are we going to take second to JoBurg?’” Furman said, while at the same time hoping to finally one up the Cardinals.
Well, Wednesday didn’t end up being one of those days for Furman’s gritty and resilient Bulldogs, who used a combination of talented athletes to take down the Cardinals, who beat out the Bulldogs for first place by over 50 points at last week’s regional meet, also in Indian River.
Was it an upset? You bet it was.
“It was an upset,” Furman said. “I think if the regional had come down to what it did last year where we lost by seven points, then it wouldn’t have felt like an upset, but we didn’t lose by seven last Friday – we lost by about 50. It’s a huge turnaround. At the same time, I know how hard it is to run the regional and come back, bounce back and win the conference, but with that being said, (JoBurg is) such a strong team.
“I knew I shook up the lineup, and I knew I was putting the girls in places where they wouldn’t be 100 percent comfortable, but I thought that, ‘If this kind of pans out, we’re going to score more points.’ That’s the goal, just score as many points as possible.”
The Bulldogs finished with five first places on the night, led by Larissa Huffman winning both the 100 hurdles (17.0) and 300 hurdles (50.7). Lauren Fenstermaker took first in the 400 (1:04.00), Natalie Wandrie was first in the discus (96-5), and Hannah Robinson finished in a tie for first in the high jump (4-4).
Inland Lakes received individual second places from Wandrie in the shot put (28-3.75) and Lannah Engler in the long jump (13-2), while the 400 relay team of Olivia Monthei, Alyssa Byrne, Engler and Fenstermaker also finished second with a 57.7 time. Third places went to Huffman in the high jump (4-4) and 200 (28.70), Luci Bunker in the 1600 (6:12), K.C. Cain in the long jump (12-7), and Fenstermaker in the 400 (13.70).
“At practice this week we just talked about ‘Team’ and ‘One meet at a time, one day at a time,’ and how to work together, and I felt like that was the focus of the week,” Furman said. “I didn’t score the meet in advance, I didn’t do any of that stuff, then all of a sudden they scored it all at the end and I was like, ‘I don’t think (JoBurg) can catch us.’”
Picking up fourth places were Fenstermaker in the 200 (28.8) and Bunker in the 800 (2:48). The 800 relay team of Lauryn Engler, Lannah Engler, Monthei and Byrne clocked a 2:06 time to finish fourth, while the 1600 relay team of Erica Taglauer, Lauryn Engler, Monthei and Byrne’s 5:05 time was also good enough for fourth. The 3200 relay team of Emma Duncan, Hannah Hinman, Taglauer and Robinson also took fourth place with a 12:33 time. Posting fifth places were Lauryn Engler in the shot put (23-11) and 400 (1:11), Ashley Murray in the 3200 (19:43), Duncan in the pole vault (5-6), Robinson in the 800 (3:00). Finishing with sixth places were Murray in the discus (58-0) and shot put (22-11), and Bunker in the pole vault (5-6). Lauryn Engler registered seventh in the discus (55-3). Byrne placed eighth in the 100 (15.3) and 200 (32.8), Taglauer was eighth in the 400 (1:17), and Cain was eighth in the 100 hurdles (20.84).
It wasn’t a pretty day weather-wise, but it’s a day Furman and her athletes will surely remember for a long, long time.
“So happy,” Furman said. “I looked at their faces. It’s one thing to have a good meet, but it’s another thing to win a trophy and win a title, and they just automatically were like, ‘This is going on the banner in the gym.’ They knew that the last time we had won a conference title was 2017, they knew it off the top of their heads. To see the looks on their faces, it was awesome.
“The only thing I felt bad about – because of the weather being as awful as it was – was as the girls were finishing events, they were looking at me and I was like, ‘Get out of here.' It was never on the radar that they might need to stick around for a trophy. Natalie Wandrie had gone home, Lannah Engler had gone home, and those two are huge parts of what we do. We were just trying to save kids from the elements today."
IL boys also surprise, finish second overall
Joining the Inland Lakes girls with a terrific day were the Bulldog boys, who finished second overall with 106 points.
Although the Bulldogs were a distant second behind champion JoBurg (210), they reached their preseason goal of finishing in the conference’s top three.
“We just kind of asked everybody if they can take on one more event, do one more thing, be willing to do this, and a lot of them just said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it,” Furman said of the boys team. “They’ve gotten progressively better all season long. I think if you would’ve asked them at the beginning of the season if they thought they could be second in the conference, I don’t think they would’ve said yes. I think they’re very happy where they ended up today.”
The Bulldogs’ lone first-place finisher was Ty Thompson, who won the discus (90-11.50).
Individual second places were earned by Nevin Thompson in the discus (89-9), Sam Mayer in the 100 (11.6), and Jack Wilson in the shot put (36-5). The 800 relay team of Sam Schoonmaker, Wyatt Shovan, Evan Perreault and Mayer finished second with a 1:43 time. Registering third places were Nevin Thompson in the shot put (34-8) and Schoonmaker in the high jump (5-5), as well as the 400 relay team of Dylan Zinke, Mayer, Schoonmaker and Perreault, who clocked a 48.90 time, and the 1600 relay team of Remi Bollinger, Drew Betke, Ty Thompson and Shovan, who raced a time of 4:26. Shane Skinner took fourth in the 3200 (14:22), and the 3200 relay team of Noah Shugar, Bollinger, Skinner and Betke was fourth at 10:54. Securing fifth places were Zinke in the 200 (25.3), Shugar in the high jump (5-2), Ty Thompson in the pole vault (7-6), and Shovan in the long jump (15-9). Recording sixth places were Zinke in the 100 (12.1) and Perreault in the 400 (59.9). Rounding out the Bulldogs with seventh places were Shovan in the 200 (26.5), Ty Thompson in the shot put (32-5), Shugar in the 800 (2:39), and Betke in the 1600 (6:16).
Santiago, Crull lead way again for Onaway teams
The Onaway boys track and field team (67 points) earned fourth place and the Onaway girls (42) were sixth.
“It was a great night in very harsh conditions,” said Onaway coach Marty Mix. “I thought each team brought the best they could despite the temperatures and rain. Overall, it was a very successful evening, and I’m proud of (Inland Lakes coach) Sarah (Furman) and her ladies pulling off the upset.”
For the Onaway boys, Xavier Santiago finished first in the high jump (6-1), while the 400 relay team of Jager Mix, Richard Aluague, Hudson Decker and Santiago also took first with a 48.5 time. The 800 relay team of Brendon Brewbaker, Jager Mix, Aluague and Decker finished first with a 1:42.10 time.
Individual second places were earned by Jadin Mix in the 300 hurdles (43.90) and Decker in the 200 (24.70). The 3200 relay team of Jadin Mix, Jager Mix, Brewbaker and Decker earned second at 9:47. Picking up a third place was Aluague in the 100 (11.70). Jager Mix was fifth in the shot put (39-9.5) and Levi Rigot took sixth in the shot put (33-5.5).
“We had some very high moments,” Mix said. “The 3200 relay, Jadin (Mix) in the 300 hurdles, and Hudson (Decker) in the 200 were awesome performances. Hudson upset a couple favorites in the 200 with an amazing run. Xavier (Santiago) continues to get better, and getting over 6-1 (in the high jump) puts him in a spot to make a really good run at the state finals by winning the conference. The 800 and 400 relays continued to get better all year and I can’t be more proud of winning the title in both tonight. Those kids did amazing. Pretty neat to have Jag (Mix) and Rich (Aluague) go out with two titles for their career tonight.”
Madilyn Crull led the girls with three individual first places, winning the 100 (13:00) and 200 (27.70), and tying for first in the high jump (4-4). The 400 relay team of Kailyn George, Lainey Shimel, Charlotte Box and Crull finished first with a time of 57.60.
Ellie Crull rounded out Onaway with a sixth place in the 1600 (6:40).
“Madilyn (Crull) continues to have an amazing year, winning all four events,” Mix said. “She did a great job continuing her year of success in the high jump, 100 and 200, and the (400) relay did an amazing job winning tonight.
“Overall, I can easily say I am a very, very proud coach!”
Cameron, Pellston boys impress, take third overall
The Pellson boys also had a really solid meet, earning third place with 80.5 points.
Garrett Cameron led the Hornets with first places in the 100 (11.30) and 200 (11.90), and was also a member of the second-place 400 relay team of Laith Griffith, Preston Schmit and Logan Keiser, who clocked a time of 48.80.
Coby Dyer took third in the discus (86-5.5), while fourth places went to Griffith in the 100 (11.90) and 400 (55.40), Jacob Doss in the discus (80-11), and Dyer in the 800 (2:21). Fifth places were earned by Brach Taylor in the 110 hurdles (20.56) and 300 hurdles (50.10), and Hunter Sonnenberg in the pole vault (5-6). Registering sixth places were Keiser in the 200 (25.60) and Sonnenberg in the 1600 (6:07). Matt Chiles was eighth in the 1600 (6:23) and Doss took eighth in the shot put (29-9.5).
On the girls side, Hailey Davis finished fourth in the long jump (12-4) and eighth in the 200 (33.0) to lead the Hornets, who placed eighth with eight points. Shaleen Otto posted seventh in the 300 hurdles (1:16.30).
Ski Valley Girls Team Results: 1. Inland Lakes (164); 2. Johannesburg-Lewiston (150); 3. Mancelona (100); 4. Forest Area (82); 5. Gaylord St. Mary (49); 6. Onaway (42); 7. Bellaire (23); 8. Pellston (8)
Ski Valley Boys Team Results: 1: Johannesburg-Lewiston (210); 2. Inland Lakes (106); 3. Pellston (80.5); 4. Onaway (67); 5. Mancelona (46); 6. Bellaire (36); 7. Gaylord St. Mary (32); 8. Forest Area (25.5)
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Inland Lakes girls stun JoBurg, win first Ski Valley track title since 2017