Ely Marathon makes a record-setting return

by Tom Coombe
Another world record was set as the Ely Marathon returned after a one-year hiatus.
The 26.2-mile race from the Echo Trail to Whiteside Park, which included 14 participants who carried a canoe, was the signature event of a weekend that included more than 1,100 particpiants - also an event record.
Anthony Peter of Mounds View shattered his own world-best by nearly 40 minutes and won the marathon’s canoe portage division, completing the course in four hours, 23 minutes and 20 seconds.
Four others completed the 26.2-mile race in the portage division, which has become a popular niche as part of the marathon festivities in Ely.
Big crowds gathered Saturday at Whiteside Park, which served as the finish line for the various races and also included food trucks, a beer tent, live music and children’s activities.


VCC takes down Mesabi

by Tom Coombe
The Vermilion Ironwomen shook off a second-game hiccup and picked up a key Northern Division win on Wednesday night.
And for good measure, they knocked off a tradtitional rival in the process.
Before a vocal home crowd, Vermilion dominated the fourth set and closed out a community college volleyball victory over Mesabi..
Scores were 25-16, 23-25, 25-19, 25-15 as the Ironwomen climbed over the .500 mark and improved to 3-2 in the division, and 4-3 overall.
Vermilion also moved into third place in the seven-team division and bolstered its postseason stock.
The Ironwomen are living up to their nickname, suiting up only six players on Wednesday, but they outlasted a Mesabi team that entered the contest with three wins in its first four division encounter
The Norse featured Ely graduate Winter Sainio, who recorded three kills, 10 digs and five ace serves.


Runners back on the course

by Tom Coombe
A top-10 individual finish was the highlight as Ely’s cross country team faced high-level competition at its second outing of the fall.
Junior Zoe Devine placed ninth in a field of more than 70 girls at the Sept. 9 Titan Invitational in Coleraine.
It was Ely’s best individual outing on a day in which the boys finished seventh among 11 teams, and the girls were ninth out of 11.
Devine completed the five-kilometer course in 20:56.2, just over a minute behind winner Hannah Drietz of Brainerd.
The Ely boys’ top overall finisher was senior Gabriel Pointer, who took 19th among 75 athletes in 18:29.1.
The rest of the Ely girls’ lineup included:
23. Phoebe Helms, 21:49.0;
47. Gracie Pointer, 24:42.6;
53. Anna Dunn, 25:29.6;
60. Sydney Durkin, 25:47.4
73. Kiarstin Eaton, 31:32.2;
74. Juliet Stouffer, 31:41.1;


Prospector offers guided rides at fall “Ride & Rally”

On September 18, hundreds of ATV riders from across Minnesota will be squeezing the throttle on their ATVs as they venture out on area trails. The rides, with starting points in Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower, are part of the annual convention of the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), hosted this year by the Prospector Loop ATV Club.
The event will feature the ATV Big Air Tour in Babbitt on Friday, Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. This is a free show and will be held where Peter Mitchell Days is normally set up.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for two years,” said Dave Soular of the Babbitt ATV and Snowmobile Club. “This is going to be a great show, something you don’t want to miss.”
This is the third year in a row that the 3-day event, also known as the ATV Minnesota ‘Ride & Rally’, has been held in the area.


Sweet taste of victory

by Tom Coombe
The Ely Timberwolves got off to a strong start in their season-opener, and it ensured a victorious start to the 2021 season.
Ely scored on its first three possessions en route to a 26-6 high school football victory over visiting Carlton-Wrenshall last Friday night.
Junior running back Erron Anderson ran for over 100 yards and three touchdowns, senior quarterback Mason Davis had two drive-extending fourth-and-long scrambles and senior Eddie Prijatel recorded 15 tackles to lead the Wolves, who gave Louie Gerzin a win in his first game on the sidelines as head coach.
It was also the first time players from Ely and Northeast Range came together for football, thanks to a last-minute cooperative agreement formed after the Nighthawks were unable to field a team this fall.
They gave an audience of about 300 people at Ely School Stadium a lot to cheer about, and Gerzin and his troops were a satisfied bunch at the end of the night.


Lights on at the Babbitt pool

by Tom Coombe
The lights of a new timing system only added to the excitement Tuesday at the Babbitt pool.
Spectators were allowed in without capacity restrictions, and the 2021 high school girls swimming season began without a cloud of COVID restrictions.
Northeast Range/Ely, with a heavy emphasis on Ely, meet a deeper International Falls team and lost 59-31 but the result told just part of the story.
The Nighthawks showed off their brand-new $25,000 timing system, which is the result of a major fundraising effort and brings the Babbitt pool in line with most others in the region.
It made for a more meet-like feel for the home opener, according to head coach Cheri DeBeltz.


Ely’s balance makes difference

by Tom Coombe
Volleyball matches can turn on a dime, and that seemed to happen Tuesday at Ely’s high school gymnasium.
Powered by NCAA Division I-bound Hannah Reichensperger, visiting Northeast Range won the second set and was on the verge of taking the third when it jumped to a 23-21 lead.
But as quickly as the Nighthawks gained the advantage, Ely answered right back.
The Timberwolves scored four straight points, with Kellen Thomas’s kill giving Ely the set and the momentum it needed to go on to a four-set victory in the season-opener.
Scores were 25-18, 21-25, 25-23 and 25-18 as the Wolves gave new head coach Megan Wognum a victory in her debut leading the program.
It wasn’t an easy win, and the Nighthawks nearly rode Reichensperger’s power to an early-season upset.
Reichensperger was a force at the net and nearly unstoppable when she got the ball in the middle.


Football programs merge

by Nick Wognum
There will be no “Friday Night Lights” in Babbitt this fall, but an 11th-hour development will clear the way for Northeast Range students to play football this year nonetheless.
The Nighthawks’ season was suspended last week because of “drastically low numbers,” according to Northeast Range athletic director Aaron Donais.
Yet those Northeast Range athletes looking for a place to play have found one 15 minutes down the road from Babbitt.
With the blessing of the Minnesota State High School League as well as conference opponents, Ely and Northeast Range took steps early this week toward approval of a cooperative agreement.
It would allow Northeast Range athletes to suit up for the Ely Timberwolves, and as many as nine were expected to attend an Ely practice Wednesday.
“We’re making the best of what was a difficult situation,” said Donais. “And we’re looking forward to what this opportunity has to offer.”


VCC players get familiar with Ely, each other, in training camp

by Tom Coombe
They come from differing backgrounds, divergent academic interests and various states.
They share some goals but their experiences vary.
Some are seeing Ely for the first time while others have been here before.
Yet over the course of a month, they’re coming together with a common purpose: to return Vermilion Community College football to its former glory.
Since early-August, roughly 50 players have practiced together and competed against each other as the Ironmen return to the gridiron this fall for the first time in two seasons with a new coaching staff and an almost entirely new roster.
Terrence Isaac, a star receiver for the Vermilion on a pair of state championship team in the mid-1990s, has returned to Ely as the Ironmen’s new head coach.
He has already made a difference, according to a player who was on campus a year ago.


High school sports season arrives as practices resume

by Tom Coombe
After a disjointed, delayed and ultimately interrupted 2020 season, high school fall sports are back and it’s largely a “return to normal” this week all across Minnesota.
Monday, practices begin for high school fall sports teams in Ely and elsewhere in the state.
The workouts begin in preparation for contests at the end of the month as high school volleyball, football, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming begin.
It’s a more familiar routine this year after a 2020 season that was marred by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While cross country and swimming seasons began and finished on time, both sports were conducted amid a series of Covid-related protocols that included attendance restrictions indoors for swimming events.


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