Despite graduation hit, boys have track talent

by Tom Coombe

They graduated several top seniors from a team that finished second in subsection competition a year ago, but Ely’s high school boys track team still has some returning talent.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves put that talent to the test Thursday, when they open the regular season with a meet at Virginia.<BR><BR>Ely won several individual subsection titles and was second-best in the team standings last spring behind a deep senior nucelus.<BR><BR>The Wolves have just three returning seniors this year - with 2003 section meet qualifier Shaun Hall leading the way.<BR><BR>But a host of underclassmen, some of whom got valuable varsity experience last spring, may be ready to step up.<BR><BR>First-year head coach Darren Visser said the Wolves figure to be strong in the mid-distance events.<BR><BR>Hall was part of a section-qualifying relay crew last year, and he’ll likely anchor the Wolves’ relays this time around.<BR><BR>“Shaun Hall is probably our strongest returning runner,” said Visser, who was an assistant in the track program for several seasons. “We’re looking at the middle-distance events that will probably be our strength. We’ve got some guys who can run the 400 and 800.”<BR><BR>Hall, Gavin Bialke and Dan Krunkkala are Ely’s three seniors, while a deep junior contingent includes John Eininger, Mike Krunkkala, Eric Park, Luke Spangler, Billy Saw, Mike Pettit, Andrew Osthoff and Pat McDonald.<BR><BR>Adam Shultz is only a sophomore, but he boasts state meet experience in cross country skiing and he appears to be the team’s best distance runner.<BR><BR>“He came on last year, so we’re looking for a strong season out of him,” said Visser. “Our weakness right now is probably the short sprints.”<BR><BR>Other sophomores on the squad are Steve Milkovich, Eric McDonald and Aaron Badillo.<BR><BR>Freshman Travis Cunningham placed in distance events a year ago, and he’s joined by classmates Justin Adams and Austin Owens on the team.<BR><BR>In all, Ely had 28 athletes in grades 7-12. Keith Turner and Will Helms serve as Visser’s assistant coaches.<BR><BR>Ely High School<BR><BR>Boys Track<BR><BR>2004 Schedule<BR><BR>Thursday: at Virginia<BR><BR>Apr. 20: at Virginia<BR><BR>Apr. 22: at Virginia<BR><BR>May 8: at Doc Savage, Hibbing<BR><BR>May 13: at O.J. Belluzzo, Hibbing<BR><BR>May 18: at Deer River<BR><BR>May 25: at Subsections, Hibbing