Sports

Fri
15
Apr

Ely returns most of lineup

by Tom Coombe
A young team a year ago, the Ely Timberwolves now boast plenty of experience when they finally get their 2022 high school softball season underway.
Like most spring sports teams in the region, the Wolves have been largely confined to the gymnasium because of a winter that just won’t seem to let up its grip on Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.
But the season should finally get underway Tuesday, when the Wolves face Mt. Iron-Buhl on the Rangers’ artificial turf field, and Ely perhaps could benefit from an extended time in the gym.
“It’s given us a lot of time to work on fundamentals and little things,” said head coach Cory Lassi, who begins his second season at the helm. “Last year we had four or five games that we lost that were decided by one or two runs, so in the gym we’ve focused on some little things. We don’t have to be more talented, we just have to do some small things better.”

Fri
15
Apr

Sweep sends VCC on to division play

The Vermilion Ironmen gathered further momentum as they embark on a 20-game sprint that will determine the fate of their season
A Saturday sweep of division rival Mesabi allowed the community college baseball team to bring its record to the .500 mark, at 8-8 overall, as Northern Division play opens this weekend.
Vermilion downed Mesabi 8-7 and 10-7 at Aurora in what served as a tune-up before today’s division opener against Rainy River.
The Ironmen have won five of their last seven games and their offense has revved up after a slow start.
During the hot streak, VCC has raised its team batting average by nearly 50 points, with outfielder Cameron Peterson leading the way.
Peterson collected five hits and scored five runs during the twinbill on the artificial turf and raised his average to a team-best .458.

Fri
08
Apr

Wolves hope for rebound

by Tom Coombe
After a void one spring and an uncharacteristic one to follow, the Ely Timberwolves are hoping for a return to normal on the baseball diamond in 2022.
The 2020 season was lost entirely to the Covid-19 pandemic while last year, a young Ely team took its lumps and finished 9-11, the first losing season in more than a decade for a Wolves team that had been to the Section 7A final four in five of the previous six seasons.
But thanks to that 2021 campaign and a busy summer, the Wolves are more battle-tested and experienced than they were a season ago.
Saturday’s season-opener against Rock Ridge, set for the Twin Cities suburb of Elko, will begin to answer some questions for longtime coach Frank Ivancich, who begins his 21st season in charge of the program.
Ely returns several starters and has experience both on the field and on the mound, but it may be a group that needs to learn how to win.

Fri
08
Apr

LaTourell, Perry honored

by Tom Coombe
Grace LaTourell and Madeline Perry were two key cogs on an Ely girls basketball team that reached the section semifinals for the first time in two decades.
Opposing coaches noticed and put both Timberwolves on the All-Arrowhead Conference Team.
LaTourell and Perry both earned second-team honors on the All-Arrowhead squad, picked at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season by league coaches.
They formed a potent one-two scoring punch for an Ely team that went 15-11, stunned South Ridge in the Section 7A quarterfinals and gave heavily favored Cromwell a scare before falling short in a 7A semifinal clash March 9 at Duluth.
LaTourell, a sophomore, scored a team-high 420 points and averaged 16.2 points per night.
She also sank 45 three-pointers, most among the Wolves, and hit 73 percent of her free throws.
In the 7A upset against South Ridge, LaTourell hit numerous free throws down the stretch to seal Ely’s big victory.

Fri
01
Apr

VCC’s Eden, Peterson chill Fergus Falls

For Dillon Eden and Cameron Peterson, a chilly day at the ballpark is when it’s 55 or 60 degrees.
Yet both Vermilion Community College players, who hail from Nevada and Florida, came up big on Sunday when the mercury topped out at 30.
In conditions that more resembled winter than early spring, Eden recorded 10 strikeouts on the mound and Peterson delivered three key hits in a 7-5 second-game victory for Vermilion over Minnesota rival Fergus Falls.
The Ironmen, who lost the opener 7-3, traveled to St. Peter and Gustavus Adolphus College for the non-division doubleheader, VCC’s first games since a season-opening trip to Florida.
The artificial turf field was cleared of snow but much of the doubleheader was played with temperatures in the high-20s.
But the cold didn’t seem to faze either Eden or Peterson, who were lauded as Northern Division Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively, for their efforts.

Fri
25
Mar

Richards skates in women’s hockey national title game

by Tom Coombe
Sydni Richards’ first season of collegiate hockey was a memorable one.
Competing for Midland University of Nebraska, Richards was part of a team that reached the national championship game of ACHA Division I Women’s Hockey.
In the March 20 title tilt, Midland fell 5-1 to Liberty University.
Midland capped its season with a 20-8-1 record, and Richards, who graduated from Ely High School last spring, played a key role.
Playing defense, Richards had a more prominent role as the season moved forward and was in the lineup at the ACHA National Tournament, which was held in suburban St. Louis.
“This season has done lots for me as I feel as if I improved immensely,” said Richards. “I went from not playing much in the beginning of the year to playing till the last seconds of a game! Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait for next year.”

Fri
18
Mar

Bianco makes it to NCAAs

by Tom Coombe
Erin Bianco finished her collegiate skiing career on the sport’s grandest stage.
The Ely graduate was 13th in the freestyle and 18th in the classic race at the NCAA Skiing Championships, held last weekend at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah.
Bianco, a former state champion while competing for Ely’s Nordic Wolves, is in her senior season at Colby, located in Waterville, Maine.
In a competition that combines NCAA skiers from all divisions, Bianco helped Colby, a Division III school, to a ninth-place finish overall and second among Division III schools.
On March 12, she was 13th in the 15-kilometer freestyle race, finishing in 39:47.5.
Two days earlier, Bianco finished a 5K classic event in 14:32.4, good enough for 18th overall.

Fri
18
Mar

Turf gives VCC chance to resume

The Vermilion Ironmen are quite thankful for artificial turf.
With snow still covering most area fields and frost well into the ground, it figures to be weeks before Ely’s Veterans Memorial Field and other natural playing surfaces are ready for action.
Yet the community college baseball team could play as many as six games in the next nine days.
Fresh from a season-opening, spring trip to Florida, the Ironmen are set to tangle with Mesabi at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Aurora, which has an artificial turf field at Mesabi East High School.
Vermilion is also set to travel south, for doubleheaders with Fergus Falls and Anoka-Ramsey, March 27-28 with contests set on turf at Gustavus Adolphus and in the Twin Cities.
Over the last decade, numerous artificial turf fields have opened across the state, providing a boon for college baseball teams usually idled until early-to-mid-April.

Fri
11
Mar

Girls reach 7A semis

by Tom Coombe
Midnight came about four hours too early for the Cinderella Ely Timberwolves.
Out to score their second monumental playoff upset in as many tries, the Wolves led at the half but faded late as second-seeded Cromwell rallied for a 52-45 Section 7A high school girls basketball semifinal victory in Duluth.
The loss ended a remarkable stretch for the sixth-seeded Wolves, who stunned three-seed South Ridge 69-63 four nights earlier in the same venue - Romano Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Grace LaTourell scored the Wolves’ last nine points - all at the free throw line - as Ely stormed back from a 17-point deficit to beat South Ridge.
In the semifinals, sophomore Sarah Visser and junior Madeline Perry spurred the Wolves to a 28-23 lead at the half against a veteran Cromwell team.

Fri
04
Mar

Wolves take to the road

by Tom Coombe
Pick your poison.
For the Ely Timberwolves, that may indeed be appropriate as they head into the opening round of the Section 7A boys basketball tournament on Thursday night.
After back-to-back defeats to section rivals South Ridge and Mt. Iron-Buhl, the Wolves (14-11) will almost certainly be seeded 10th when the postseason begins this week.
That means a road trip to the home of the number-seven seed, and as of deadline that appeared to be either Northland (Remer) or South Ridge, who were set to meet in a regular season clash that was likely to decide the seventh seed in what appears to be a very deep 7A field.
South Ridge, which downed Ely 64-45 last Friday, pairs 6-10 center Austin Josephson with 6-9 Slayton Stroschein, while Northland is a talented unit that owns a victory over Chisholm and was 19-6 going into its regular season finale.

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