KINGSFORD—Two Forest Park athletes were as hot as the weather at the Division 3 U.P. track finals, held at Flivver Field here on May 31.
Mary Grandahl and Bill Ragio led the Trojans by winning two events apiece in the final event of the season.
Temperatures during the day rose into the high 80s with barely a cloud around, though humidity was low and a strong breeze blew from the south.
Quite a difference from Forest Park’s May 15 regional tournament at North Dickinson, just a few miles away, when snowflakes filled the air and it never got above the mid 30s.
During the U.P. Finals, Forest Park’s girls finished third place overall in Division 3 with 55 points. Brimley won the team title with 84 points, and Bessemer finished second at 67. Forest Park, Pickford (38) and Munising (27) rounded out the top five.
Grandahl dashed to victories in the 100 and 400-meter runs. She was also second in the 200. In all, she contributed 28 points to the Lady Trojans’ team total.
The speedy senior also anchored FP’s winning 800-meter relay team, following Maria Stankewicz, Libby Shamion and Abby Nylund. Grandahl gave all the credit to Stankewicz, who was fighting through a bout with mononucleosis.
“She’s really sick,” Grandahl said. “I’m amazed that she’s doing so well today. And then Libby and Abby really picked it up. They made my job easy at the end—all I had to was cruise to the end and catch that last girl.” The Trojans edged Engadine for first by 0.81 seconds.
She said the relays are her favorite event. “I love working with the girls, getting our handoffs perfect and getting that team-within-a-team bonding going every year.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself, the way things turned out for me today.”
She defeated Superior Central’s Teslyn Tyner by 0.12 seconds in the 100 and Mid Peninsula’s Kelsey Shope by 1.1 seconds in the 400. Grandahl came very close to being a triple winner but finished 0.2 seconds behind Engadine’s Autumn Arseneau in the 200.
“I know the girls I’m running against,” she said. “I’m a senior, so I know my competition well. I didn’t know how far I could go—today I proved to myself that I can go a lot further than I thought possible.”
She plans to go far in life, too—next year, she plans to start studying pre-occupational therapy at Central Michigan University. “I decided I’d better stick to my studies more than sports,” she said. “It was a hard decision, because track is my favorite sport.”
Stankewicz and Shamion were on all three relays in which FP won points; Nylund and Kendra Campbell were on two of them. Individually, Shamion was fourth in the 400, Campbell took fifth in the 100 high hurdles and Amanda Bustillos took sixth in the 1600.
800 relay: 1. FP (Maria Stankewicz, Libby Shamion, Abby Nylund, Mary Grandahl), 1:53.21. 400 relay: 2. FP (Stankewicz, Shamion, Katie McCole, Kendra Campbell), 54.32. 1600 relay: 5. FP (Stankewicz, Shamion, Nylund, Campbell), 4:42.77.
100 high hurdles: 5. Campbell, 17.68. 100: 1. Grandahl, 13.34. 1600: 6. Amanda Bustillos, 6:06.48. 400: 1. Grandahl, 1:04.72; 4. Shamion, 1:06.80. 200: 2. Grandahl, 27.63.
No entries in field events.
Forest Park’s boys team only consisted of three people. But all three of them helped the team. FP finished sixth overall with 28 points. Munising was first with 107, North Dickinson came in second at 68, and Rapid River was third at 60.
Most of the points came from Bill Ragio, who won the long jump and pole vault and was also fourth in the 400.
Ragio and Bessemer’s Alex Smith both cleared 18 feet, 9.5 inches in long jump. At first, it was announced as a first place tie—but later, a tiebreaker put Ragio in first by himself. Earlier in the season, he leaped 19-9.
In pole vault, later in the day, Ragio needed a couple attempts to clear 11 feet, but he topped 11-6 and 12-0 on the first try. As the remaining entries continued to jump, Ragio left to run in the 200.
“I got back from the 200, and they said ‘You already took first place. You can keep going up if you want.’”
He tried 12-6 once—but that was enough. “Just too tired from the 200. Didn’t have enough energy.” Ragio’s personal best in pole vault is 12-9.
This is the sophomore’s first year in pole vault, but his skills may be inherited. His dad, Tony Ragio, holds the Forest Park school pole vault record—13-1. “He taught me pretty much all I had to know about it.”
Bill wanted to try pole vault as a freshman but didn’t get a chance to get in much practice. After that, “My dad said Let’s get a jump on it.” He vaulted a couple of times last summer. “Then my dad said, We’re having a long winter here. So we dragged the mats inside, through the snow, brought them inside and got a jump-start on that. Once the weather got nice, we got outside and got some vaults in and progressed from there.”
At meets, he talked with North Dickinson’s Logan O’Neil. “He and I help each other at meets, when we’re going up to higher heights.” This summer, Ragio is looking forward to learning more at specialized pole vaulting camps.
Only three Trojan boys got to the U.P. Finals, but all three won team points for Forest Park. Steve Hallmann wrapped up his high school career with a fifth in shot put and sixth in discus, and Jake DeNell cleared 5-6 in high jump—his best leap ever—to earn sixth place.
“We’ve had a team full of guys who have been working hard,” said Coach Erich Ziegler. “We had some things not go right at regions, but these three, I was proud of them for making it through.”
No entries in relays
200: 4. Bill Ragio, 24.29.
Discus: 6. Steve Hallmann, 118-0. Shot put: 5. Hallmann, 42-10. Long jump: 1. Ragio, 18-9.5. High jump: 6. Jake DeNell, 5-6. Pole vault: 1. Ragio, 12-0.