Boys win section title; Ely sending nine to state meet

by Tom Coombe -

Hopes were fulfilled, expectations were met and nine Ely skiers are moving on to the state meet.
A snowy Thursday at Giants Ridge was a stellar one for the Nordic Wolves, who captured the Section 7 boys team title and finished third among the girls.
The entire boys team along with eight-grader Zoe Devine and junior Kalyssa Eilrich from the girls punched their tickets to the state competition, also at Giants Ridge on Feb. 14.
Jasper Johnston, Ely’s sophomore all-stater, took third among the boys and finished only behind state titleist Garrett Beckrich of Grand Rapids and Cloquet standout Aidan Ripp.
Four other Wolves were among the top-11 skiers in a field of about 65, giving Ely the points it needed to secure the team championship.
Ely collected 377 points, topping runner-up Duluth Marshall by 13.
Johnson was third after the morning freestyle race and made up ground in the classic pursuit. His combined time in both 5K races was 35:10.8, only three seconds out of the runner-up slot.
Junior James Schwinghamer was sixth (37:47.3), with exchange student Kjetil Midttun (37:56.8, eighth) and freshman Gabriel Pointer (38:40.9, 10th) right behind., with junior Raif Olson in 11th (38:44.1).
Juniors Nate Netiffee and Ethan Bremner were 24th and 33rd, respectively, as the Wolves showed off the depth they displayed all season long.
The Ely girls were just four points away from qualifying their entire team for state, settling for third place in back of Duluth East and Grand Rapids.
Devine, a cross country state qualifier in the fall, made it two-for-two in state appearances and finished fifth in 44:22.8.
Eilrich took 12th and earned her own state berth in 46:53.4.
In addition to the qualifying teams, the next six highest individual finishers gained state bids. Two other Ely girls were in the top-20, with eighth-grader Phoebe Helms in 19th (48:32.5) and junior Brooke Pasmick 20th (48:50.6).
In 36th through 38th were Ely junior Ana Bercher, freshman Cora Olson and sophomore Julia Schwinghamer.