Ski Tigers Take State Champs; Delong Wins Individual Title

The Copper Country Ski Tigers won the team trophy at the 2013 Michigan High School Cross-Country Skiing Championships at Al Quall Trails in Ishpeming February 16. Senior Evelyn DeLong won the individual state girls title, taking both the sprint title on Friday, Feb. 15, and the pursuit title on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The Copper Country girls won in convincing fashion, while the boys team was edged by Marquette after a tough-fought two-day competition.

Leading the way for the Ski Tigers girls was DeLong, a senior at Calumet High School, and Houghton High School students Sarah Lyle (a sophomore) and Isabel Sharp (a junior). Delong won the 1-kilometer sprint final on Friday, while Sharp captured third and fifth in the A final.

On Saturday, DeLong won the pursuit title as well by netting the fastest two-race total after separate 5-kilometer events with classic and freestyle techniques. Lyle, who led the pursuit at halfway after the Saturday morning classic event, yielded only to Delong in the final race to earn the silver. Sharp, third in the classic, hung on for a fourth-place pursuit finish. Houghton sophomore Carly Bulleit (7th), freshman Becca Lyle (9th), sophomore Marika Abbott (10th) and sophomore Erin Lyle (15th) all finished in the top half of the pursuit field, as the Ski Tigers girls skated away with the team title.

On the boys side, Blake Murray, a Marquette High School senior, won the sprint and pursuit titles. After placing four skiers among the top six in Friday’s sprint,  Marquette had an impressive lead in the boys team scoring. But a quintet of Ski Tigers boys out-pointed Marquette in Saturday’s events and nearly won the boys team title.

Senior Hendrick Hataaja, a homeschooler from the Calumet area, was the only Ski Tiger to make the boys sprint final Friday, finishing fourth. Hataaja closed out a fine high school career with a fourth overall in the pursuit. One place ahead of Hataaja, Houghton sophomore Isaac Stone impressed with a third-place finish in the pursuit, while Houghton juniors Dan Wood (6th) and Zeb Featherly (8th) and sophomore David Jaszczak (7th) helped Ski Tigers fill five of the top eight spots in the 55-racer field.

In early March, five Ski Tigers will travel to the USSA Junior Nationals in Fairbanks, Alaska, to race against the nation’s best junior Nordic skiers: Hataaja, Stone, DeLong, Sharp, and Sarah Lyle. Carly Bulleit heads to Plymouth, New Hampshire, for the Eastern J2 Championships.

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