Olson fuels Ely track “W”; Junior wins 800; Omerza, Nettifee also gain firsts at Esko

by Tom Coombe
After gaining all-state acclaim in cross country, it’s only natural to expect that Luke Olson would have an immediate impact in his first season of high school track.
The Ely junior is living up to that billing and then some, helping lead the Timberwolves’ boys team to a victory at Tuesday’s Two Harbors Invitational, held at Esko.
Olson won the 800 meter run, and did so with a sizzling time of 2:02, and fellow juniors Eric Omerza (triple jump) and Nate Nettifee (400 dash) also came home with first-place finishes.
Overall, Ely piled up 110 points, easily topping runner-up Esko and 12 other schools.
“ There were big performances Tuesday, led by Luke Olson’s 2:02 in the 800,” said Ely Head Coach Will Helms. “ His time is the fastest since Adam Shultz’s section and state times from 13 years ago.”
Tuesday marked Olson’s second time in the 800 event, and he outpaced Esko’s Sam Rengo to get the win.
“Luke pulled away early and held off a late kick to secure the win in an excellent time,” said Helms.
The Wolves showed off strength throughout the event, including the triple jump as Omerza leaped to a victory in 38-2, which Helms termed “a very solid jump with limited practice this spring.”
Few Ely athletes had a better day than Nettifee, who dominated the 400.
“Nate Nettifee came away with a commanding victory in his first-ever attempt at the open 400 meters,” said Helms. “Nate usually runs the shorter sprint events, but ran like a veteran in the longer sprint, getting out hard and running a hard last turn to put the race away before the final straight.”
Nettifee was also part of a solid Ely showing in the throws, taking second in the discus with a toss of 126-7.
Senior Jasiah Wigdahl, meanwhile, was second in shot put (43-2),
“That’s a good throw at this point in the year and he’s got more good throws to come,” said Helms.
Another second-place finish went to another Ely standout - junior James Schwinghamer.
Schwingamer ran the 1,600 in a personal-best 4:41, taking second to Virginia’s Cameron Stocke in a race where they exchanged leads.
The Wolves’ top relay was the four-by-100 grouping of Isaac Gawboy, Finn Liesching, Omerza and Eli Anderson. They combined to take third in 48.31 seconds.
Gawboy also had an individual third-place sprint of 11.96 seconds in te 100 dash.
In the four-by-400 relay, Anderson, Raif Olson, Dylan Fenske and Luke Olson teamed up and took fourth.
Fenske, Jasper Johnston, Gabriel Pointer and Kjetil Midttun were fourth in the four-by-800 relay.
Raif Olson was a key point-scorer for Ely, adding a third in the 300 hurdles, a fourth in the 110 hurdles and a fifth in the triple jump. Nettifee’s all-around day also included a sixth in the 200.
Other notable finishes included a fourth in the discus by Wigdhal and a fifth in the long jump by Gawboy.
Fenske finished sixth in the 800, Midttun was sixth in the 300 hurdles and Pointer scored for the Wolves by taking eighth in the 1,600.
“The team win was a bit of a surprise--especially with 15 teams at the meet-- as we were resting some athletes and limiting our entries on Tuesday,” said Helms.