Ely CC teams place second and third at chilly home meet

by Tom Coombe
Minus their leading runner, the Ely boys weren’t able to defend their championship at Tuesday’s Ely Invitational.
Senior Luke Olson did not compete in the annual home meet and the Ely boys settled for third place, just a point behind runner-up Eveleth-Gilbert and two back of Virginia, at the Ely Golf Course.
Freshman Zoe Devine’s fifth-place finish sparked the Ely girls team to a second-place showing, behind only International Falls.
The annual home event was held on an overcast day with prime running conditions, but chilly 40-degree temperatures that forced spectators to don an extra layer of clothing to stay warm.
Olson, who won a state track title during the spring and has a string of individual wins to his credit this fall, returned to Ely late Monday after a college visit and sat out the home meet.
He instead is gearing up for Saturday when most of the state’s top runners will converge in Duluth for the prestigious Swain Invitational.
“Traveling does not go well with racing so we agreed to have an easy run Tuesday and a semi-hard workout Wednesday since we have the Swain on Saturday,” said Ely Head Coach Jayne Dusich.
Olson’s leisurely jog left the field to Virginia’s Cameron Stocke, who dominated the five-kilometer race and won in 16:07.3, a better than 50-second margin over the runner-up - Mt. Iron-Buhl’s Aaron Nelson.
The Timberwolves were paced by junior Emmett Faltesek, who placed fourth in 17:11.6.
Depth will figure into the Wolves’ run at a Section 7A crown, and junior Jasper Johnston took seventh in a field of 66 with a time of 17:44.2.
Gabriel Pointer, an Ely sophomore, placed 13th (18:27.7) and senior Dylan Fenske cracked the top-20 by taking 18th in 18:54.8.
Freshman Joey Bianco (27th, 19:45.3) and sophomore Harry Simons (28th, 19:58.6) followed, while senior Nate Nettifee was 32nd in 20:10.
Every place mattered, as Virginia scored 67 points, with E-G (68) and Ely (69) right behind in a field of seven teams.
In girls action, Ely was second and again paced by several ninth-graders.
Devine was fifth in 20:48.3, about 33 seconds behind the winner- MIB’s Liz Nelson.
Fellow freshman Phoebe Helms took ninth (21:40.3) and Sydney Durkin was a place back in 21:52.1
Sarah Isbell (21st, 23:16.5), Cora Olson (23rd, 23:36.2), Laura Holmstrom (24th, 23:40.2) and Julia Schwinghamer (25th, 23:44.4) were next in line for the Wolves, who wound up only two points behind champion International Falls and edged out MIB by a tiebreaker to claim second place.
“Some kids had very good times this year and others were about the same,” said Dusich.
The race attracted nearly 200 athletes, including those who took part in the 2.4K junior high events.
Ely had the runner-up in both races.
Among the girls, seventh-grader Anna Dunn placed second (11:09.4) with Lauren Rehbein (seventh, 12:30.6) and Molly Lindsay (ninth, 12:44.5) also in the top-10.
The Wolves had four of the top-11 junior high runners, with Jake Cochran in second (8:46.3), followed by teammates Leo Stalmer (sixth, 9:17.6), Caid Chittium (seventh, 9:34.2) and Jace Huntbatch (11th, 9:55.8).