Bianco, Olson fly at the Falls

Ely runners ride high individual finishes to second, third-place showings

by Tom Coombe -

Ely’s high school cross country team hasn’t had one meet yet this fall with its entire roster intact.
For the Timberwolves’ opponents perhaps that seems to be a good thing - as Ely continues to sparkle even shorthanded.
Paced by Erin Bianco’s second-place finish in the girls race and Luke Olson with a third-place showing among the boys, the Timberwolves were near the top of the heap Tuesday at the Hial Pike Invitational at International Falls.
In the next-to-last tune-up before the Section 7A competition, the Ely boys placed second as a team and the girls were third, even with both squads missing key runners.
Seniors Caroline Homer and Teddy Pierce, who both were integral parts of Ely’s state-qualifying teams in 2015, have battled injuries this fall.
Others have also been absent at one time or another this season, but the Wolves have responded by showing off their depth.
Bianco, who is wrapping up a dynamic prep career, continued a strong senior season by taking second in the five-kilometer girls race in 19:58.74, behind only winner Ellysa Peterson of Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin.
“It was a great race by Erin,” said Ely Head Coach Jayne Dusich. “She was determined to go after (Peterson) and she passed Lexi from International Falls.”
Also near the top was Ely’s Ryne Prigge, who was fifth in a field of 102 runners in 20:32.21.
The Wolves’ Emma Terwilliger was 19th (21:41.86) and teammate Evelyn Bercher was 32nd (22:58.74).
Those finishes helped Ely to 98 points and a third-place standing, behind only Hibbing and GNK. In all, 12 teams participated.
Other Ely finishers were:
• Taryn Osthoff, 42, 24:13.7;
• Lucy Stouffer, 91, 29:11.34;
• Anna Nelson, 92, 29:25.35;
• Homer, 93, 29:25.39;
• Lindy Dalberg 94, 29:25.50;
• Cari Eibler, 100, 31:25.42;
• Dana Crenshaw, 102, 34:56.56.
Olson third, team second
Olson got off to his usual fast start and it largely held up, as the freshman placed third among a whopping 138 boys runners.
Olson’s finish in 17:29.46, and three other Ely top-10 showings powered the Wolves to second place among a dozen teams.
Right behind Olson was eighth-grader Joey Pierce, who was fourth in 17:38.01.
Senior Simon Stouffer was sixth (17:41.70), and freshman James Schwinghamer climbed into the top-10 with a run of 17:43.70, good enough for ninth.
Also close to the top were Ely’s Ben Gustafson (28th, 18:32.42) and Ethan Hasz (31st, 19:11.08).
“There was no Teddy, but the other five ran really good races,” said Dusich. “Luke likes to take the lead and holds on as long as he can. Joey and Simon had excellent times also. Not a good race for James, but Ben and Ethan also their best race.
Both Ely teams close out the regular season Tuesday at Proctor, with the 7A meet slated for Oct. 27 at Cloquet.
Faltesek tops Jr. High race
Tuesday’s junior high boys race at the Falls was all-Ely, with eighth-grader Emmett Faltesek winning the 3,200 meter race in 11:56.34, and the Wolves claiming three of the top-four spots and six in the top-14.
Dylan Fenske was right behind Faltesek in second (12:07.03) and Sean Prigge placed fourth (12:46.99).
Also near the top were Jasper Johnston (ninth, 13:21.55), Gabriel Pointer (13th, 13:33.24) and Mitch Peterson (14th, 13:37.34).
The Wolves had two finishers in the junior high girls competition, with Kalyssa Eilrich placing seventh (15:06.08) and Julia Schwinghamer ninth (15:15.41).