Krunkkala, Scott top Ely grid pentathlon

by Tom Coombe

Ely seniors Mike Krunkkala and Tim Scott had near-record performances in the high school football team’s season-opening fitness pentathlon.<BR><BR>Krunkkala racked up 4,531 points and Scott was next with 4,525, the second and third-best totals in the nearly 20-year history of the event, to kick off an impressive first week of practice for the Timberwolves.<BR><BR>“Since I’ve been coaching, we’ve never had an athlete get 4,500 points,” said Ely Head Coach Darren Visser, who began his sixth season at the helm. “Now we had two of them this year.”<BR><BR>Krunkkala cracked the 4,000-point mark last season while Scott recorded a bigger jump, and theirs were the best in a string of solid scores for the Wolves.<BR><BR>Junior Steve Milkovich was third overall with 4,073 points.<BR><BR>“Having three guys over 4,000 points is good and we had another bunch of them past the 3,000 mark,” said Visser. “It shows where those guys are at and how much time they’ve put into it in the offseason.”<BR><BR>Athletes collect points on a scale based both on their performance and body weight.<BR><BR>A Wolves tradition dating back to the mid-1980s, the pentathlon includes the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, bench press, half-mile run and beam jump.<BR><BR>Ely’s overall top ten included;<BR><BR>• Krunkkala, 4,531 points;<BR><BR>• Scott, 4,525;<BR><BR>• Milkovich, 4,073;<BR><BR>• Kevin Hartshorn, senior, 3,966;<BR><BR>• Ernie Horvat, junior, 3,756;<BR><BR>• John Eininger, senior, 3,751;<BR><BR>• Paul Starkovich, junior, 3,705;<BR><BR>• Matt Hall, eighth grade, 3,662;<BR><BR>• Mike Popesh, senior, 3,605;<BR><BR>• A.J. Johnson, senior, 3,520;<BR><BR>Visser and the Wolves hope the high scores and a good first week of practice translate into victories on the gridiron.<BR><BR>After a winless campaign in 2002, Ely showed marked improvement last fall, going 4-5 overall.<BR><BR>“We’re happy with how things have gone so far,” said Visser. “It’s never easy to tell until you start getting the pads on and go live, but the kids have come in enthusiastic and ready to learn. They’re working hard and have a good feel for what’s going on.”<BR><BR>• The Wolves laced up for the pads for the first time last Thursday, and a busy docket this week wraps up Saturday with a morning scrimmage at Esko. Ely joins the host Eskomos, Carlton and Cook County in a four-way preseason test.<BR><BR>• Ely has 47 players out for the squad in grades 8-12, down five from a year ago. Low numbers in the sophomore class - only four members are out for the team - contribute to the decrease.<BR><BR>“We’re probably about seven below where we’d like to be,” said Visser. “But from talking to a lot of coaches around the area, a lot of them are dealing with low numbers. We’re not sure why that is.”<BR><BR>Visser said that Section 7AA rival Mesabi East, for example, had only 16 players in grades 9-12.<BR><BR>• Elliot Beaty had the top pentathlon score among Ely sophomores, netting 3,205 points. Patrick Lekatz (3,376) paced the freshmen.<BR><BR>• Ely has a new junior varsity coach, as Jeremy Hudson, an assistant pastor at the Ely Baptist Church, has joined the staff. Todd Hohenstein continues as Ely’s varsity assistant and Ryan Hunter serves as the C-squad coach. Also on the staff are volunteer assistants Bill Braun and Mike Pope.<BR><BR>• Ely’s opener is set for Friday, Sept. 3, at Greenway (Coleraine).<BR><BR>The Wolves start with on the road, then return home for games with Carlton and Cook County in the opening portion of an eight-game regular season schedule.<BR><BR>• Even though Ely is a AA school for playoff purposes, the Wolves have been moved into the Polar Conference Class A Division.<BR><BR>They’ll join Cook County, Silver Bay, Carlton, Barnum, Nashwauk-Keewatin and Chisholm in the division. All except for Ely are Class A teams.<BR><BR>“There were two new teams coming in, Two Harbors and Greenway, and in order to balance the conference they moved us down, because we were the smallest AA school,” said Visser.<BR><BR>