Olson, Omerza set pace

Ely standouts take first at subsections with breakthrough outings

HURDLING toward the finish line was Kjetil Midttun. Photo by Mark Sauer

by Tom Coombe -

Luke Olson and Eric Omerza have helped fuel a dynamic season for Ely’s high school boys track team.
The juniors showed May 23 at Hibbing that the postseason might be even better.
Both set personal records, while Olson shattered his own school record, en route to first-place finishes at the Section 7A North Subsection competition.
They punched their own tickets to the section meet, completed Thursday after deadline, and showed why they are strong contenders to advance to the state meet, set for June 7-8 at St. Paul.
Olson won the 800 meter run in 1:57.3, breaking his own school and personal-best by a whopping two seconds and coming up with a time that will turn heads across Minnesota.
“Luke moved into rare territory,” said Ely Head Coach Will Helms. “Not only did he lower the school record by another two seconds, he also may have run the fastest single-A 800 in the state this year. His chances look very good to move on to the state meet.”
Omerza, meanwhile, not only won the triple jump, but his leap of 41 feet, nine inches easily toppled his previous best of 40-1.
“The competition was very good with a strong showing from Deer River and South Ridge, two teams we don’t see often,” said Helms. “To get the win, Eric needed to do something special, and he really came through.”
Ely also captured a subsection crown in the four-by-800 relay, with Olson joining James Schwinghamer, Emmett Faltesek and Dylan Fenske.
“They had a relatively easy path to their subsection title, but will be tested in Duluth,” said Helms. “We think the relay has more speed, and it should be interesting to see how the kids respond to stronger competition from the south subsection. ”
Another relay that could contend for a state berth is the four-by-400 combination of Luke Olson, Raif Olson, Nate Nettifee and Faltesek, which shaved eight seconds off its previous best time to take second in the subsection.
“Each member of the team ran 55 or under, with Nate Nettifee (53) and Luke Olson (52) posting the fastest times of the foursome,” said Helms. “This relay could also reach state with a good day at sections.”
The Wolves also had a slew of other section-qualifying performances.
Schwinghamer also ran his best time (10:00) in the 3200m race, finishing a very fast second to Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin phenom Geno Urbom.
Senior Isaac Gawboy had season-best times in both the 100 and 200 dashes, advancing with a third-place finish in the 100.
Norwegian exchange student Kjetil Midttun took third in the 100 hurdles setting a personal-record in the process while junior Raif Olson advances after taking third (300 hurdles) and fourth (110 hurdles) at Hibbing.
Senior Jasiah Wigdahl placed third in the shot put to advance, while Faltesek (1,600 run), Omerza (long jump), Gabriel Pointer (1,600 run, personal record 4:45.81) and Eli Anderson (high jump) all made it to Duluth. Anderson is the first Ely high jumper to advance since Pat Heiman did so in 2011.
In the 1,600, sophomore Jasper Johnston beat his personal-best by eight seconds and scored for the team with an eighth-place finish.
Despite a slew of team victories during the regular season, the Wolves settled for second place in the subsection event with a false start in the four-by-100 relay costing the team valuable points.
“At the end of the day, we were satisfied with the runner-up team score, though we had hoped to win the meet,” said Helms. “ Thursday was an important lesson that nothing is given; you have to go out and prove yourself every day. We’ll try and carry that lesson into the section meet and beyond.”