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Nimrods nip Martians mascot for tops in state



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March 06, 2013 - The Nimrods have it.

Well, sort of.

A recent USA Today poll to the determine the best mascot in the state and ultimately the nation went to Watersmeet, a small Western Upper Pennisula community. The school's mascot is the Nimrod—a king or skillful hunter.

Watersmeet has a population of about 1,400 and is located about 250 miles west of Mackinaw City about 20 miles north of the Wisconsin border.

The Nimrods received 16,329 votes edging out the Goodrich Martians, who snagged 13,834 votes. Other state mascot competitors were the Ishpeming Hematites (766 votes), the Kingsford Flivvers (615 votes) and the Pershing Doughboys (221 votes)

George Peterson, superintendent and athletic director of Watersmeet School District, responded to the results. The one building school, which houses K-12 and a student population of about 178 including 79 in 9-12, said the national accolades are not the first for the district.

"We're elated," said Peterson, a proclaimed native member of the Nimrod nation. "In December 2003 ESPN came to town and made about a dozen commercials about our school that aired during the 2004 Super Bowl. After that, things escalated for us and CBS Sunday Morning and the Free Press all have been up here. Jay Leno even flew our basketball team out to New York to be on his show."

All the publicity has swelled the small school's coffers.

"We estimate about $500,000 in gross profits from the coverage over the past several years," he said. "Actually we have Bugs Bunny to thank for referring to Elmer Fudd as a 'Poor little Nimrod,' regarding his hunting skills. A Nimrod is referred to in the Book of Genesis."

Similarly the Martian mascot is often confused with and has nothing to do with little green men, nor does it hail from Greek mythology.

The Goodrich students were called the Gladiators prior to the 1930s, when the farming community's school system was known as Goodrich Rural Agricultural Schools. The Martian mascot pays tribute to the school's farm roots, since the Roman deity was also known as the god of farm land.

The contest will determine 51 winners — the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. — then will be narrowed down to six regional winners in another poll which started on March 6 and will end on March 14. USA Today's top mascot in the nation will be determined with a final poll beginning March 15 and ending March 25.

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