Boys run their way to state

Wolves finish second as a team in 7A: Olson, Faltesek top placers

by Tom Coombe
Luke Olson was the Ely Timberwolves’ only participant in last year’s state boys cross country meet.
This year, he’ll have plenty of company.
Led by Olson, who took third overall in his final Section 7A meet, the Ely boys finished second as a team and punched their own ticket to next weekend’s state competition at Northfield.
Olson, an all-stater in his junior year, set a strong pace on a blustery Thursday in Cloquet as the Wolves went toe-to-toe with 7A champion Greenway but came up three points shy of the section title.
Junior Emmett Faltesek took eighth while junior Jasper Johnson and sophomore Gabriel Pointer also cracked the top-20 to help spur Ely’s second-place team finish.
Nobody will advance from the Ely girls team, which was eighth in 7A, but ninth-grader Zoe Devine was in the mix for a state berth and settled for 17th overall.
The Ely boys had high hopes for a state berth after a string of impressive outings this fall, and the Wolves pushed Greenway to the limit, coming within just three places of knocking off the Raiders, who were led by state champion Geno Uhrbom. The top two teams advance to state and the Wolves were comfortably in front of third-place North Shore in a field of 22 teams.
“It was a super day,” said Ely Head Coach Jayne Dusich. “Everyone ran great. To only miss it by three against Greenway, I thought it would be a bigger difference.”
Olson took third in 16:11.9, about 35 seconds off the pace set by Uhrbom.
The performance of the day for Ely may have been turned in by Faltesek, who was eighth in 17:01.6 and would have qualified for state on his own even if the team did not advance.
“Emmett ran super, Luke did too,” said Dusich. “Emmett was really focused on getting in the top-eight. He wanted to go whether the team did or not and he was very focused.
Johnston and Pointer were 19th and 20th, respectively in 17:32.3 and 17:33.4, and both were high in the field of 151 athletes.
Next up for the Wolves was senior Dylan Fenske, who took 50th in 18:16.09.
Rounding out Ely’s lineup were senior Ethan Bremner (89th, 19:39.9) and sophomore Harry Simons (91st, 19:45.2).
The Ely girls have been led by ninth graders all season long and that was the case again Thursday.
Devine was four places away from her second state berth. She took 17th in 20:23.7.
Two other Ely freshmen made the top-45, with Phoebe Helms in 43rd (21:47.9) and Sydney Durkin 45th (21:48.1).
Next were Sarah Isbell (66th, 22:38.6), Cora Olson (68th, 22:40.1), Laura Holmstrom (73rd, 22:59.1) and Brynn Vollom (74th, 23:00.7).