Kameron Burmeister of Menominee reaches the top of a hill at the Great Northern Conference meet Thursday. Burmeister raced to the gold medal in 19:04. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
Kameron Burmeister of Menominee reaches the top of a hill at the Great Northern Conference meet Thursday. Burmeister raced to the gold medal in 19:04. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
BANAT - Struggling with bronchitis and matched against undefeated Marquette runner Lindsey Rudden, Kameron Burmeister would not give up on her dream.

The months of training paid off for the Menominee runner on the rolling hills of the Dale Fountain Cross Country Course as she put on a gritty stretch run to win the Great Northern Conference title Thursday.

Burmeister broke former Menominee standout Mandi Long's record time of 19:08 with gold medal time of 19:04 - 19 seconds off her previous best.

"I can't believe it," said Burmeister between a coughing spell. "I've dreamed about this. It was like an out-of-body experience."

Rudden was unbeaten this season and the only loss for the Redette sophomore was at U.P. Finals last year when she had an asthma attack near the finish line.

Rudden and Marquette freshman Amber Huebner set an fast pace early, but Burmeister hung with them. Heading around the corner into the finishing stretch, Burmeister whipped past Rudden.

"I said to myself, 'why not today,' " Burmeister said. 'Why can't I do it today?' I've worked so hard this and I'm finally in the low 19s.

"I want to thank my coaches. I was ready to give up cross country after my sophomore year. I owe this to them."

Coach Suzi Merrill was still a bundle of excitement long after Burmeister crossed the finish line.

"We had a strategy of sneak from behind," said Merrill. "I told her to just go for it. She put in so much physical and mental preparation for this. When she took the lead at the end it was breathtaking."

Marquette placed all seven of its girls in the top 10 to run away with the GNC title with 22 points. Escanaba took second (64), 14 points ahead of third-place Menominee (78).

Davey Luplow and Gunther DeDamos raced to All-GNC medals to lead the Maroon boys to a third-place finish with 78 points.

"My goal today was third place for both teams and they did it," said Merrill. "We had a lot of personal bests and a lot of them came close."

Rebekah Wickman refused to give up on a medal while trailing the pack early and started passing runners on her way to a 14th-place medal (21:50).

"After the first mile, I think I was the last runner," said Wickman. "I didn't know where I finished. I assumed I was behind everyone."

Paige Reiswitz placed 16th (21:57), just one place shy of a medal.

Lilly Johnson placed 23rd (22:40), Anah Schloegel followed her across the line (24th, 22:45) and Paige Tickler closed the parade of three straight Maroons with her 25th-place run (22:47). Paiton Plutchak was 29th (23:16).

In the boys' race, Stephenson's Connor Cappaert and Menominee's Davey Luplow tore together down the last 200 meters before Cappaert surged ahead for a fourth-place medal in 16:56. Luplow timed in at 16:57 for fifth.

"I knew I had to start out fast," said Cappaert. "There was a ton of good competition here. That makes you push harder."

Luplow broke 17 minutes for the first time with his 16:57 clocking.

"I got exactly the time I was hoping for," Luplow explained. "There were a lot of good runners here. I tried to hold back a little at the start but I wanted to stay with the leaders."

DeDamos battled through a sore back to earn an eighth-place medal in 17:34.

"My back hurt early in the race but I was able to keep up the pace," said DeDamos. "I love this course with its rolling hills."

Cole Riebolt of Marquette won the boys' race in 16:22.

Josiah Newlin finished 30th (20:29) for the Stephenson boys followed by Brandon Kau (33rd, 20:39), Mark Cappaert (36th, 21:12), Ian Menke (37th, 21:34) and Josh Thoney (39th, 21:57).

Brooke Parrett's 32nd-place run in 23:32 led the Eagle girls. Caitlyn Havelka was 33rd (23:42), followed by Sydnee Engel (38th, 26:32) and Rachel Starzynski (39th, 26:5).

"I'm pleased with the way the whole team ran," Stephenson coach Michael Herres said. "Some of our younger girls are starting to come on."

Girls team scores: Marquette 22, Escanaba 64, Menominee 78, Gladstone 82, Stephenson 126
MENOMINEE - 1. Kameron Burmeister, 19:04, 14. Rebekah WIckman, 21:50, 16. Paige Reiswitz, 21:59, 23. Lilly Johnson, 22:40, 24. Anah Schloegel, 22:45, 25. Paige Tickler, 22:47, 29. Paiton Plutchak, 23:16
STEPHENSON - 32. Brooke Parrett, 23:32, 33. Caitlyn Havelka, 23:42, 38. Sydnee Engel 26:32, 39. Rachel Starzynski, 26:52

Boys' team scores: Marquette 36, Escanaba 46, Menominee 78, Kingsford 91, Gladstone 133, Stephenson 140
MENOMINEE - 5. Davey Luplow, 16:57, 8. Gunther DeDamos, 17:34, 19. Cody Porath, 18:53, 21. Adam Nolde, 19:19, 25. Michael Melchoir, 20:03, 32. Erik Pohlmann, 20:37, 35. Josh DeGayner, 21:02
STEPHENSON - 4, Connor Cappaert, 16:56, 30. Josiah Newlin, 20:29, 33. Brandon Kau, 20:39, 36. Mark Cappaert, 21:12, 37. Ian Menke, 21:34, 39. Josh Thoney, 21:57