EagleHerald/Brian Bell Menominee's Kennedy Olson prepares to release her throw in the shot put event during Thursday's GNC finals meet at Fran Mellinger Track & Field. Olson won the event.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell Menominee's Kennedy Olson prepares to release her throw in the shot put event during Thursday's GNC finals meet at Fran Mellinger Track & Field. Olson won the event.

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MENOMINEE — The Menominee girls track team fell just seven points short of first-place Marquette to take runner-up and the boys came in fourth at the Great Northern Conference finals at Fran Mellinger Track & Field on Thursday.

The Maroons totaled 95 points to Marquette’s 102. Kingsford took third with 61, Esky was fourth with 55 and Gladstone took fifth with 40.

For the boys, Gladstone won the team title with 138 points. Marquette was second (113), then Esky (44), Menominee (37) and Kingsford (21).

“We’ve got a lot of young kids that are really competitive and are going to come back and do well again next year,” Menominee coach Scott Melchoir said. “Both the boys and girls had good days I thought. We pulled some kids back because we’re still really trying to focus on U.P. Finals a week from Saturday and we’re really looking forward to that, but overall we were happy with what we saw.”

Maroon freshman Kennedy Olson started the day off for the girls by easily winning the shot put with her throw of 37 feet, 8 inches. The runner-up, Gladstone senior Santana Wells, finished with a throw of 28-5.

Olson then turned around and took second in the discus (96-5), finishing behind Kingsford senior Rylee Palmer (96-5).

“Kennedy’s shot put throw was less than a foot away from the school record. Coach (Greg) Langlois continues to work with her and really does a great job,” Melchoir said. “She’s a real low key individual. Doesn’t really get too excited and performs really well under pressure. She’s been working hard all year. She’s starting to get a hang of the discus and she’s only a freshman, so there’s a lot of time for her to keep getting better.”

Esky’s Kyle Gendron won the shot put (42-0) to beat out Menominee junior Dylan Oudeans (41-9) by just three inches. Oudeans got the Maroons third-place points in the discus with his throw of 111-11.5 behind Esky senior Gabe Smith (125-1) and Gladstone sophomore Blake Servant (119-7).

“Dylan is a very good all-around athlete and he did well today,” Melchoir said.

Menominee sophomore Makenzie Wellner added two more hurdles gold medals to her collection by sweeping the 100 and 300 events. She won the 100 in 16.26 to beat out Esky senior Courtney Boyle (16.92) and Marquette senior Ahnika Puskala (17.34). In the 300, she finished in 48.22, 1.70 seconds ahead of Gladstone sophomore Ahna Larson.

Wellner then teamed up with sophomores Jenna Nolde and Alicia Nordquist and senior Ely Wellner for her third first-place finish in the 800 relay (1:52.33), more than a second in front of second-place Marquette.

“I was excited to run today because it was such a nice day out and now that it’s over, I’m just glad it’s all done,” Makenzie said. “In the 800 relay, we usually lose to Marquette right at the end and today everybody just gave it all they had and that was enough for us to get first.”

Nordquist took third in the 100-meter dash (14.14) and 200-meter dash (29.68) and junior Katie Anderla and freshman Hayden Buck swept the long distance events.

Anderla won the 3,200 with a time of 12:31.36, well ahead of second-place Josie Danielkiewicz of Marquette (13:14.21). After finishing third in the 1,600 (5:50.94), she was a little disappointed, but instead of getting frustrated, she used it as motivation for the 3,200.

“I wasn’t feeling that great today so my mindset was just to try my best and try to compete as best as I can,” Anderla said. “I struggled trying to find my strength point. Mentally has been a struggle for me, but my determination has helped me especially moving forward towards U.P. Finals.”

Buck won the 1,600 in 5:39.94, just edging out Marquette’s Guinn Wuorinen (5:41.97). She also took fourth in the 800 (2:42.09).

“I’ve been doing alright in past races but this was by far the one that shined the most. I’m happy with how I did and I’m happy to see how my career with running will go. Right now, it feels really good to see all of our hard work come through,” Buck said.

Freshman Evan Casey took eighth in the 3,200 for Menominee (12:16.86) and was 10th in the 1,600 (5:45.30). Sophomore Nick Sandahl took seventh in the 1,600 (5:28.42).

Menominee long-distance coach Tyler Crossman was pleased with the way his distance runners did on the day, and noted that for as hard as the kids work, it’s nice to see it finally starting to pay off.

“Nobody ever really wants to run distance events, but the kids we have work very hard and they deserve everything that they get,” he said. “Hayden and Katie are both all-around athletes that can really run anywhere. They don’t really mind whatever events I put them in. The guys as well. They’re always down to run whatever event I put them in and they always give it their best. I’m proud of them.”

The boys 3,200 relay team of sophomores Landen Clausen, Hunter Shepeck, Adam Sandahl and Cameron Buscher took third (9:39.00) behind Marquette (8:52.40) and Gladstone (9:03.35); the 800 relay team (seniors Caden Bigger, Jon Boucher, Hunter Goldschmidt, Bryce Parrette) got fourth-place points by finishing just under three seconds ahead of Esky (1:40.97) and the same crew teamed up for the 400 relay and finished third (46.98). The 1,600 relay team of freshman Dawson Allgeyer, Buscher, Shepeck and Clausen came in fifth (3:56.25). Clausen also had a fifth place finish in the 800 (2:17.63).

Freshman Anna Nerat set a new personal-record in the high jump, clearing 4-10 to take first in her first ever GNC finals. She beat out Marquette’s Maria Millado and Esky’s Anna Smith who cleared 4-8.

“I was plateauing at 4-6 all year and in our last meet I got up to 4-8 so it feels really good to get past that today,” Nerat said. “It’s really exciting with this being my first GNC’s.”

Shepeck tied for sixth in the boys high jump (5-4) and the event was won by MQT’s Millado after he cleared 6-1 to beat out Esky’s Gendron (6-0); Parrette came in second in the long jump (19-10.25) behind Millado (20-6) and Nolde was fifth in the girls long jump (14-4).

“Bryce had a really good jump in the long jump,” Melchoir said. “We were happy to see that.”

In the 400, freshman Marin Park took fifth for the Maroon girls (1:06.29) and Kendall Baxter finished in 1:19.31. Allgeyer took sixth for the boys (58.29) ahead of teammates Buscher (1:00.04) and fellow freshman Keegan Retlick (1:01.26) who finished eighth and ninth, respectively.

The girls 1,600 relay team of Buck, Park, Ely Wellner and Nerat finished just behind Marquette for second place (4:25.69) and the 400 relay team (Nolde, Nordquist, Nerat, Wellner) also were right behind the Redettes in second (53.85). Marquette finished the 1,600 in 4:22.70 and the 400 in 53.39.

Sophomore Beth Enderby took fifth in the pole vault (7-0) with the winner, Gladstone freshman Emily Siebert, clearing 8-6.

“It was a really nice day. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold, it was perfect,” Melchoir said. “It’s nice to have these teams down here and have the competition. It’s conference championships. This is what you point towards is this, regionals and U.P. Finals. Now we get to focus on U.P. Finals this week at practice and hopefully have some good results.”

U.P. Finals is on Saturday, June 1 in Kingsford.