Sports

Fri
03
Apr

Ely’s Prigge a record-setter

by Tom Coombe
Like all other college athletes in the country, Ryne Prigge saw her spring season come to an abrupt and early end because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But before the year was cut short, the Ely native earned a spot in the record book at Bemidji State University.
Three times in a matter of just over a month, Prigge set new BSU records in the 800 meter run while competing on the women’s track team at the school.
Prigge completed the 800 in 2:16.91 at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference indoor championships, held Feb. 28-29 at Mankato.
A sophomore at BSU, Prigge place fifth in the conference while breaking a school record that she had established just a few weeks earlier.
It was Jan. 25 when Prigge finished first at the BSU Indoor Open, winning the 800 and setting a new school-best time of 2:18.04.
In between, Prigge took third at a North Dakota meet in 2:17.18, further lowering the school record time.

Fri
27
Mar

Fenske, Omerza honored

by Tom Coombe
Dylan Fenske and Eric Omerza formed a potent combination for the Ely Timberwolves.
While their teammates handled the bulk of the outside shooting for Ely high school boys basketball team that reached the Section 7A semifinals, the two seniors were clearly the Wolves’ “bread and butter.”
Arrowhead Conference coaches noticed, naming the pair to the All-Arrowhead Team.
The recognition comes on the heels of a surprising season for the Wolves, who won 23 games and fell to defending section champion North Woods in hotly-contested 7A final four matchup.
Fenske and Omerza were clearly two key cogs in Ely’s success.
A 6-2 forward and the Wolves’ tallest starter, Fenske gave Ely an inside presence and at times was an offensive machine.
That was obvious Feb. 11, when he scored 28 first-half points to reach 1,000 for his career in a home win over Lakeview Christian Academy.

Fri
20
Mar

VCC seasons come to an abrupt end

For one local team, the spring sports season came to an end before it began.
For another, the plug was pulled after a promising trip south.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the country and in the world of sports, with professional leagues shelved and colleges following suit.
Monday, the National Junior College Athletic Association announced it was canceling the 2020 spring seasons - sending the Vermilion Community College baseball and softball teams to the sidelines.
The Ironwomen were set to open their season later this month and had a handful of practices prior to VCC’s spring break - which started in early-March.
The Vermilion baseball team, meanwhile, returned home March 11 from a spring break trip to Florida and were hoping to resume the season in southern Minnesota as soon as next weekend.
Those hopes were dashed not long after, first by a suspension of activities and Monday’s subsequent cancellation.

Fri
13
Mar

Wolves fade in second half

by Tom Coombe
An untimely drought spoiled the Ely Timberwolves’ bid for a drmatic playoff upset Wednesday night.
Leading 55-47 with 11 minutes to go, the Wolves would score only one basket the rest of the way and three-time defending champion North Woods went on a 25-2 run to pull out a 72-57 Section 7A boys basketball semifinal win at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.
“We outplayed them until the end,” said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald.
Ely, which finished 23-6, led 43-36 at the half and by as many as 13 points early in the game.
A Will Davies three-pointer gave the Wolves an eight-point lead at 55-47, but the Wolves went cold while the second-seeded Grizzlies went inside, to senior center Trevor Morrison and talented junior Darius Goggleye.
They combined for 23 of their 38 points in the second half, many in the decisive run that included a Goggleye bucket that put the Grizzlies ahead to stay at 56-55.

Fri
06
Mar

Wolves cruise into the quarters

by Tom Coombe
The Ely Timberwolves left no doubt.
Living up to its high seed, the Wolves raced out of the gate against Hill City and never looked back - scoring 57 first-half points in an 84-46 Section 7A high school boys basketball playoff victory on Wednesday night.
The home was was Ely’s 22nd of the season - against just five defeats - and set up a 7A quarterfinal game with Mt. Iron-Buhl at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hibbing’s Memorial Building.
Ely has defeated the sixth-seeded Rangers by double digits on two occasions this season, and a third win would set up a semifinal showdown, most likely with three-time defending 7A titleist North Woods - on March 11.
In reaching the quarterfinal round, the Wolves had little resistance from a Hill City team they pounded in similar fashion early in the year.
Four Wolves scored in double figures, with senior Dylan Fenske adding to his 1,000-point-plus total with 18 in his final game on the home floor.

Fri
06
Mar

Ironmen swept in season debut

The Vermilion Ironmen aren’t easing their way into the 2020 community college baseball season.
In advance of a Florida trip that includes three contests with nationally-rated opponents, Vermilion opened the 2020 season Feb. 27 - under the roof at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis- against perennial power Rochester.
A final-four team in the region last spring, the Yellowjackets used superior depth and strong pitching to score a 7-2, 6-0 sweep.
Rochester pitchers walked only two batters in the late-night, early-morning twinbill while Vermilion pitchers combined to issue 21 free passes.
That was the difference in the games.
“We just walked way too many people to have a chance to win,” said Vermilion Head Coach Tom Coombe. “What’s amazing is we were competitive in the first game until late in the game despite walking so many.”

Fri
28
Feb

Ely speech team competes at Mesabi East

Ely speech coach DonnaKari said the team “made a spectacular showing at the Mesabi East meet on February 22. Not only did the students all place, but they brought home the third place team trophy. Pictured are: (back l-r): Cora Olson, 1st in duo, Esther Anderson, 1st in extemp reading, Maggie Dammann, 2nd in extemp reading, Harry Dammann. 5th in creative, Tori Sawyer 2nd in creative and 3rd in poetry, Kaya Sawyer, 4th in extemp reading. Front: Sydney Marshall, 1st in duo and Laura Holmstrom, 2nd in extemp speaking.

Fri
28
Feb

This year, the dogs beat the heat

by Tom Coombe
Mild temperatures made for near-perfect conditions for spectators and did little to slow down the dogs at last weekend’s WolfTrack Classic.
The 12th running of the sled dog race was a hit - with hundreds of people turning out for Sunday’s races held under sunny skies and near 40-degree conditions.
While some dogs cooled down by rolling in the snow at the finish area near Ely’s softball complex, they set a blazing pace on the course with a team led by Michael Bestgen claiming the eight-dog, 50-mile race with a time of four hours, 36 minutes, 26 seconds.
Bestgen was first among eight mushers.
The six-dog race went for 30 miles and included 23 mushers, with Jim Ward’s team holding off Nick Turman’s team by 16 seconds to take the title.
Weather was one of the big stories of this year’s event, with the warm temperatures in sharp contrast to a 2019 event marked by sub-zero temperatures and brutal winds.

Fri
21
Feb

Ely Peewee team advances to Regionals

Ely started the district playoffs with a 6-3 win against 7th seeded Grand Rapids B2, followed by an intense second game versus the 3rd seed, Virginia, which Ely came out victorious 9-6. After a tough loss 8-3 for the championship, to the #1 seed, Grand Rapids B1, the Ely Peewee B's fought back hard in their final game against Hibbing-Chisholm, to take the #2 seed in district 12, with an 8-3 win & advance to the region competition. The Ely Peewees, coached by Nicole Carlson, Bill Forsberg and Justin Zemke, will be going on to the regions tournament, being held in Moose Lake, February 28-29 and March 1. Ely’s first game is against the #1 seed from district 16, East Grand Forks, at 11:45 a.m. on the Feb. 28.

Fri
21
Feb

State was worth the wait

by Tom Coombe
Maybe good things really do come to those who wait.
The Ely Nordic Wolves had to wait a bit, but the results at last week’s state ski meet made it all worth it.
After cold weather pushed the meet back a full day and timing issues led to delays the day of the event, the Wolves emerged by meeting - and even exceeding - their high hopes.
Junior Jasper Johnston finished fourth overall and the Ely boys finished fourth as a team, while the girls got an all-state performance from freshman Zoe Devine and a ninth-place team showing at the single-class state event, held Feb. 14 at Giants Ridge near Biwabik.
Johnston, now a three-time all-stater, moved up after taking 11th as a sophomore and met his season-long goal of reaching the top-five at state.

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