Milkovich, Krunkkala qualify in four events

by Tom Coombe

Steve Milkovich and Mike Krunkkala earned section meet appearances in four events each and led Ely’s high school boys track team to a solid second-place showing at Wednesday’s subsection meet in Hibbing.<BR><BR>Milkovich won the 110 meter hurdles and finished second in three other events, while Krunkkala took first in the 200 dash, fourth in the long jump and was part of two winning relays as the Timberwolves piled up 140 points and finished second in a field of 11 teams.<BR><BR>But perhaps more impressive than the team standing is the slew of athletes the Wolves will send on to the Section 7A meet, set for this Friday at Duluth.<BR><BR>Ely has section qualifiers in 12 different events, and in all the Wolves have 13 athletes who will either participate in the section event or be there as an alternate, much to the pleasure of head coach Darren Visser.<BR><BR>“I thought as a team we did oustanding,” said Visser. “It was kind of what we expected, but we scored points in a few different places that we didn’t expect. We’re very happy to be moving so many guys on.”<BR><BR>Milkovich, a sophomore, follwed a stellar regular season with an equally-strong subsection effort.<BR><BR>He raced to victory in the 110 hurdles in 17.14 seconds, and was second in the 300 hurdles in 44.7<BR><BR>Two more second-place finishes followed in the triple jump (39-1) and long jump (19-2), and Milkovich heads to the section meet with perhaps the Wolves’ best chance at a state meet berth.<BR><BR>“He definitely has a shot in there,” said Visser.<BR><BR>Krunkkala topped the field in the 200 with a spring of 24.08 seconds.<BR><BR>He also teamed with his brother Dan, Shaun Hall and Gavin Bialke to win the 800 relay in 1:35.73.<BR><BR>Mike Krunkkala also was on Ely’s winning 1,600 relay with Adam Shultz, Bialke and Hall (3:37.01).<BR><BR>Hall also qualified for sections in an indiviual event - the 400 run.<BR><BR>The senior placed second in 54.3 seconds and is one of three Elyites to move on in the event. Bialke placed third in 54.63 seconds and seventh-grader Matt Hall, Shaun’s younger brother, also gained a section bid with a fifth-place run of 57.4 seconds.<BR><BR>In the distance events, Shultz moves on after a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 (5:03). Travis Cunningham took fourth in the 3,200 (11:05.95).<BR><BR>One of the pleasant surprises for Ely on the afternoon was the third-place showing by the 3,200 relay of Eric McDonald, Cunningham, Matt Hall and Mike Pettit. They completed the run in 10:01.<BR><BR>The Wolves would add a fifth-place finish in the 400 relay, with Luke Spangler, Dan Krunkkala, Pettit and John Eininger sprinting to a 48.72 second finish.<BR><BR>Mike Krunkkala also landed a spot in the section meet with a fourth-place leap of 18-10 in the long jump. Dan Krunkkala took fifth in the 200 (24.78).<BR><BR>Ely also scored points in several other events, including:<BR><BR>• 100 dash - 8. Eric Park, 12.69;<BR><BR>• 300 hurdles - 8. Spangler, 51.64;<BR><BR>• 800 run - 6. Eininger, 2:13;<BR><BR>• 110 hurdles - 7. Spangler, 21.17;<BR><BR>• 3,200 run - 7. Andrew Osthoff, 12:11.3;<BR><BR>• Shot put - 6. Bialke, 39-7;<BR><BR>• Discus - 7. Spangler, 97-8;<BR><BR>• Triple jump - 6. Pettit, 33-7; 7. McDonald, 33-6.<BR><BR>“We picked up a few extra points in some different places,” said Visser. “Eric Park picked up a point in the 100 that we didn’t think we would get. Andrew Osthoff picked up a couple of points in the two-mile. The (1,600) relay beat Eveleth-Gilbert for the first time, winning by 14-hundredths of a second. That was a great race to finish off the day.”<BR><BR>The Wolves will now turn their attention to the section meet, where the top two individuals and winning relays advance to state.<BR><BR>“We do have a couple of outside chances,” said Visser. “I think the (800) relay has an outside chance. Everything has to be perfect and we’re close.”<BR><BR>Friday’s meet will be held at Griggs Field, on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.