In the front row: For Klein, state track bid forces agonizing decision

by Tom Coombe Echo sports writer

Getting to the state high school track meet, especially when one does it on a relay with seniors who won’t be back next year, can aptly be called a once-in-a-lifetime experience.<BR><BR>A month-long trip to Germany with high school classmates fits the same description.<BR><BR>But what happens when one once-in-a-lifetime experience conflicts with another?<BR><BR>That’s the dilemma that faced Ely junior Jenna Klein last week.<BR><BR>On June 4, Klein joined teammates Raychal Zupancich, Julie Anderson and Casey Sovil on a 3,200 meter relay team that finished second at the Section 7A meet in Duluth and earned a spot in the state meet, set for June 10 at Blaine.<BR><BR>But there was one, not so small, catch.<BR><BR>On Tuesday, Klein was scheduled to depart with more than a dozen Ely classmates for Germany, in the once-every-two-years tour of Europe coordinated by German instructor Bob Braff.<BR><BR>Despite the best efforts of Klein and her parents (Lyle and Mary), she was forced to choose between the two experiences.<BR><BR>Efforts to secure an affordable, post-track meet flight to Europe were futile, and Klein left with the Ely delegation as scheduled Tuesday morning.<BR><BR>But not before some difficult, agonizing moments.<BR><BR>“She was very disappointed,” Mary Klein said Tuesday, shortly after seeing her daughter off. “She desperately wanted to run with this relay team. Jenna recognizes how difficult it is to get to state in track, and because of this these girls are very excited to have the opportunity. She ran through a whole gamut of emotions.”<BR><BR>The remaining three relay members took part in the state competition, joined by junior Kelly Chaudoin, who was an alternate on the relay.<BR><BR>The Kleins spent most of three days scouring for another plane ticket and lining up the details with Braff, to make sure Jenna would be able to join the Ely group later during the trip.<BR><BR>But as prices for the new ticket skyrocketed past the $1,000 mark, Klein’s hand was forced and she opted to go to Germany on schedule.<BR><BR>It was disappointing for the Ely athlete, who was also part of Ely’s state meet cross country team and the school’s state-qualifying Nordic ski squad, but support from both her teammates and head coach Todd Hohenstein eased some of the pain.<BR><BR>“She felt she was letting her teammates down, but she spent some time with her friends and they completely understand,” said Mary Klein. “She feels better about it now. Right from the start, Mr. Hohenstein has never put any pressure on her, completely understanding the position she was in.  He always knew what to say, each time they discussed this, to make her feel better. She helped to get them there and she simply has to take comfort in that.  I guess life isn’t always fair, and as a parent it is difficult to watch your kids face disappointment, especially in a situation like this, where she had to choose between two wonderful experiences.”<BR><BR>• Klein, Anderson and Sovil were all three-sport (cross country, Nordic skiing, track) state meet athletes for the Wolves.<BR><BR>It may be the first time in school history that an Ely athlete has taken part in state competition in all three seasons.<BR><BR>• Sartell’s high school baseball team, coached by Elyite Jerome Nemanich, will participate in this week’s Class AAA state tournament in the Twin Cities.<BR><BR>The Sabres beat Brainerd 8-3 Thursday for the Section 8AAA crown.<BR><BR>Sartell’s American Legion baseball team will be here June 25-27 for the Ely Legion Classic.<BR><BR>• Nashwauk-Keewatin has been in the Section 7A finals in all five years that Minnesota has had three enrollment divisions in baseball.<BR><BR>The Spartans earned their second state tournament bid by defeating Barnum 4-1 in Thursday’s 7A final at Hibbing.<BR><BR>N-K is expected to be Ely’s top area rival this year in American Legion baseball. Ely and N-K have met for the Eighth District Division II title in six of the last seven seasons.<BR><BR>Hermantown beat Virginia twice Thursday to take the 7AA title.<BR><BR>• Ely’s Aaron Thom, along with Josh Mathson and Ben Barnes of Babbitt-Embarrass-Soudan-Tower, were picked to play in the Bernick’s Pepsi High School Baseball All-Star Game June 29 at Duluth. The three are teammates on Ely’s Legion team and will be part of an Iron Range squad that takes on all-stars from the Duluth area.<BR><BR>• BEST’s Mathson finished his prep career with an astounding 32 home runs, 161 hits, 168 runs batted in and 33 pitching wins.<BR><BR>• More than 70 anglers and golfers took part in the June 5 Altameja event, the 13th annual fundraiser for Vermilion Community College athletics.<BR><BR>The event is named after retired VCC coaches Rudy Semeja and Bob Altavilla.<BR><BR>• Josh Quick of Tower-Soudan was named to the high school basketball All-State Class A Team, selected by the Minnesota Basketball News.<BR><BR>A 2,000-point scorer, Quick helped the Golden Eagles to a 27-2 record and a runner-up finish in Section 7A. He also averaged 7.4 assists per game, fourth-best in Class A, this season.<BR><BR>Another T-S star, 6-10 junior center Steve Jamnick, got honorable mention to the all-state team.<BR><BR>Ely’s Tim Scott, who averaged 24 points per game, received honorable mention to the Class AA squad.