MARQUETTE - Maybe "warm up" wouldn't quite be the appropriate term for Monday, considering the raw weather conditions featured temperatures in the low 40s and northerly winds gusting up to 30 mph.
But whatever you call it, the Marquette County Relays showed that the Marquette Senior High School cross country teams are well prepared for Saturday's Upper Peninsula Finals to be held in Munising.
"We look at this race like a training day for the U.P.'s," said freshman Alex Wyble, who joined fellow frosh Lance Rambo in posting the boys winning time of 32 minutes, 7 seconds.
They beat out Gwinn's Matt Moilanen and Derek Reetz by 33 seconds, with Negaunee's Keenan Gantz and Evan Fezatt in third another 10 seconds back.
"I've been waiting to do better than third and beat those guys from Negaunee," Reetz said. "This is one of my favorite races, since I'm more of a sprinter."
Each athlete ran three miles on Monday, running a mile at a time and alternating laps around the school grounds with his or her partner.
Wyble and Rambo explained that this meet is a perfect tapering off of long distances in preparation for the biggest meet of the year to be held at Pictured Rocks Golf Course for the second consecutive year.
"This is really our last hard workout before the finals," said Marquette coach Dale Phillips, who should know how to get ready for a big race as he's in his 36th year with the MSHS program.
He outlined the rest of this week's preparation for his Redmen and Redettes, which includes easy distance runs today, some 200-yard sprints on Wednesday, stretching and light running Thursday and nothing physically on Friday.
While the Marquette boys won their team competition with four of the top nine duos, the MSHS girls were even more dominant, scoring a perfect six points while boasting seven of the top eight pairs.
That included freshman phenomenon Lindsey Rudden and sophomore Calla Martysz, whose 35:06 clocking not only beat the rest of the girls field by more than two and a half minutes, but would've placed them seventh in the boys race.
"We like running with the boys," Rudden said about one of the rare meets where the two genders run together, even if standings are kept separately.
It probably has something to do with Rudden's talent, since she hasn't found a girl in the U.P. during the past two months who could catch her.
Several young runners commented about the cold rather boisterously as they started their laps. Comments included "Wow! It's so cold!" and "I'm freezing!"
But Wyble took his shirt off for about a minute afterward, while Rudden and Martysz said they didn't mind the weather.
"I only worry about how it affects my breathing, but it really wasn't bad at all," Rudden said.
"You just have to make sure you warm up long enough," Martysz said.
Negaunee was second in both team races. Its 15 points for the boys was just four behind Marquette, while the Miners scored 32 points for the girls.
The Miners had three top-eight medalists for the boys. In addition to Gantz and Fezatt, Grant Johnson and Zach Carlson were fifth and Storm Juntti and Joe Uren came in seventh.
Marquette's other medalists were Nick Tuma and Leighton Locke in fourth and Eddie Brauer and Trevor Slinkard in sixth.
Gwinn rounded out the boys medalists with Alex Redlon and Alex Anderson in eighth.
Other top finishers for their schools were North Star Academy's John-Henry Kibit and Casey L'Huillier in 10th, Ishpeming's Peter Leppanen and Mark Holmgren in 11th and Westwood's Josh Gossick and Ben Luttinen in 13th.
In the girls race, Negaunee's Clara Churchill and Wyleen Kniola finished fourth in 38:46 as the only non-Marquette girls to medal.
The Redettes' Martha Storm and Shayla Huebner were second in 37:41, while Nichole Mackey and Abby Potts were third in 37:44.
Other MSHS medalists were Liana Storm and Cassidy Thomas in fifth, Kayla Argeropolous and Paulina Puskala in sixth, Lizzie Slagle and Kendra Palomaki in seventh, and Shelby Ross and Nora Gaffney in eighth.
Gwinn's Makayla Mayo and Brittany Dunklee missed medaling by three seconds and were ninth, while Westwood's Gabby French and Annie Bjork were 10th another seven seconds back.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.