Wolves run to victory at Deer River

by Tom Coombe

Ely’s high school boys track team couldn’t have had a much better tune-up for subsection competition.<BR><BR>On a beautiful spring afternoon Tuesday at Deer River, the Timberwolves put together a performance that could be aptly described by head coach Darren Visser as a thing of a beauty.<BR><BR>Behind two first-place finishes by sophomore standout Steve Milkovich, two winning relays and individual victories by Adam Shultz and Mike Krunkkala, Ely ran away with the team title at the Deer River Invitational.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves collected 176 points and topped the eight-team field, and perhaps more importantly gathered some momentum heading into the subsection meet, set for this Wednesday at Hibbing.<BR><BR>“I was very pleased,” said Visser. “It was a nice way to head into subsections. Deer River for some reason has always been a place where we’ve done well. We saw a lot of guys with personal bests, and we got our relays to the point where we want them to be going into subsections.”<BR><BR>And while the Wolves may not have enough overall depth to dethrone larger schools such as International Falls for the subsection team title, Ely appears to be in prime shape to advance several individuals and relays on to section competition.<BR><BR>At the head of the pack is Milkovich, who has emerged as one of the top track athletes in Section 7A.<BR><BR>Tuesday, Milkovich rolled to another win in his signature event - the triple jump (40 feet).<BR><BR>He also picked up a win in the 110 hurdles (17.01 seconds), was second in the 300 hurdles (45.26) and third in the 100 dash (11.87).<BR><BR>Two weeks ago, the 800 relay quartet of Gavin Bialke, Dan Krunkkala, Shaun Hall and Mike Krunkkala set a new school record with a time of 1:35.65. They nearly topped that at Deer River, winning the relay in 1:35.9.<BR><BR>Ely also picked up a win in the 1,600 relay (3:41), with Mike Krunkkala, Hall, Shultz and Bialke forming the winning combination.<BR><BR>Mike Krunkkala also sprinted to the win in the 200 dash (23.6), with Shultz reaching the winner’s circle in the 1,600 run (4:58).<BR><BR>In addition to his win in the 200, Mike Krunkkala took second in the long jump (17-9).<BR><BR>The Wolves added second-place points in the 3,200 relay, as Eric McDonald, Andrew Osthoff, Matt Hall and Mike Pettit completed the race in 9:54.9.<BR><BR>In the 400 dash, Ely had both the second-place (Shaun Hall, 53.89) and third-place (Bialke, 54.6) finishers.<BR><BR>Ely picked up third, fourth and fifth-place points in the 3,200 run with Travis Cunningham (11:16), John Eininger (12:44) and Osthoff (12:47) finishing in succession.<BR><BR>Cunningham finished second behind Shultz in the 1,600 run (5:23), with eighth-grader Jay Wilmunen (5:58) placing sixth in the same event.<BR><BR>Bialke threw the shot put 39 feet, seven inches to place third and Luke Spangler took fifth in the discus (101-8).<BR><BR>Ely’s 400 relay of Spangler, Eric Park, Matt Hall and Pettit was fifth (49 seconds), while Pettit took fifth in the 800 run (2:21).<BR><BR>Notching sixth-place points for Ely were Eininger (300 hurdles, 48.5) and Dan Krunkkala (200 dash, 24.5).<BR><BR>Milkovich, Shultz, Cunningham and the relays are some of Ely’s bestbets for top finishes in the subsection and a berth in the Section 7A meet, set for June 4 in Duluth.<BR><BR>“We’re looking to push on a good crew of guys,” said Visser. “Our focus isn’t on the team standings. We just want to see how many individuals and relays we can get to sections.”<BR><BR>