AltaZmeja is back for 2021

by Tom Coombe
After a one-year hiatus, a popular fundraiser for Vermilion Community College athletics returns later this summer and will include a special tribute to one of its namesakes.
The AltaZmeja Fundraiser for Vermilion Community College athletics is in its 30th year, although the 2020 event was not held because of COVID-19.
But it’s back and set for Saturday, July 31, and organizers say they’ve lined up an extra special day of fun and activities next weekend.
The golf and fishing outing, named in honor of retired VCC coaches Bob Altavilla and Rudy Semeja, and most recently in honor of former VCC assistant coach and local business owner the late Gary Zaverl, takes place at both the Ely Golf Club and on Shagawa Lake.
Semeja passed away in 2020, and in conjunction with the event is a celebration of life in his honor, which will take place at Zaverl’s Bar.


Schwinghamer, Peterson winners at Four on the Fourth

by Tom Coombe
After going virtual in 2020, Ely’s annual four-mile race around the Trezona Trail returned in full force this year.
Two new winners were crowned this year at the four-mile race that kicks off Ely’s Fourth of July Celebration.
Michael Schwinghamer was the overall winner and Cailee Peterson was the first female to cross the finish line at the Janet Gensler Memorial Four on the Fourth.
Schwinghamer, 22, completed the Sunday morning race in 21:00.5, while the 21-year-old Peterson, who was seventh overall, had a time of 24:30.
The event doubles as a fundraiser for Ely’s high school track teams and attracted more than 160 participants.
Taking second place overall was Joseph Dabado, 32, of Chicago, in 22:32.8.
Rounding out the top-10 male finishers were:
• Andrew Kephart, 21, Cedar Falls, Ia., 22:41;
• James Schwinghamer, 20, Ely, 22:42;
• Blake Gallardo, 18, Santa Clarita, Cal., 22:46.2;


Remembering Renee

by Nick Wognum
For many summers, Veterans Memorial Field was Renee Lassi’s second home.
So it only seems fitting that it’s at the ballpark where her family, friends and Ely’s baseball community will gather on Thursday to remember her.
The longtime manager of the ballpark concession stand passed away last fall, and her family will hold a celebration of life in conjunction with Thursday’s Junior and Senior Legion baseball games with Taconite.
An on-the-field ceremony will be held just prior to the 7:15 p.m. Senior Legion game, and the celebration will take place starting with the 5 p.m. Junior Legion game and will include photos, memory boards and an opportunity to visit with Lassi’s loved ones.
Lassi was famous, not only within Ely’s baseball circles but beyond, for her concession stand specialties - most notably pulled pork sandwiches.


Sir G’s Classic rolls on

Not even COVID-19 could derail the Sir G’s Midsummer Classic last summer, but the annual baseball tournament takes on a more traditional look this year.
The 20th annual event, which starts Friday and runs through July 11, will officially be an American Legion baseball tournament this year.
While the 2020 tournament went on as scheduled and involved a whopping 10 teams and attracted hundreds of fans to Veterans Memorial Field, it was an “independent” baseball event following the formal cancellation of last summer’s American Legion season.
But Legion ball is back in full force in 2021, and the Sir G’s Classic is as well with games both at Ely and Soudan.
In its relatively brief existence, the tournament has become one of the premiere small-town baseball events in the state.


Junior Legion rallies for first summer win

by Tom Coombe
A come-from-behind victory was the highlight of an otherwise difficult week for Ely’s Junior Legion baseball team.
Ely erased a seven-run deficit Monday at Eveleth, rallying for an 11-10 win as Elliot Levens ripped five hits, including a three-run triple.
Down 10-3, Ely rallied to tie the game by the fifth inning and pulled ahead in the top of the sixth.
Jack Mathias got the win in relief, pitching four innings and striking out six while yielding only one earned run.
Mathias, a freshman-to-be, also helped his own cause with three hits, three runs scored. Deegan Richards also chipped in with two hits.
Ely is 1-5 overall, with four losses coming in last weekend’s z’UP North Realty Classic and another coming Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Field, when Virginia scored seven runs in the top of the eighth and prevailed 13-6.


Northeast Range trap club team hands out awards

The Northeast Range trap club team handed out awards following the spring season. Awards went to: Ariel Kalinowski - High Gun Female; Aili Bee - High Gun Female Runner-Up; Jon Hakala - High Gun Male, High Gun Overall and the John Nicholas Sportsmanship Award; Noah Backe - High Gun Male Runner-Up; Jacob Mackai received his first 25 straight patch; Letter Awards: Hakala, Kalinowski, Foster, Kale Beno, Mackai, Harry Dammann, Wesley Sandy, Bee and Backe; Top Squad for State - Foster, Hakala, Mackai, Backe and Kalinowski. The team is coached by Ed Zupancich and Julie Huseby.


Faltesek, Larson lead Wolves

by Tom Coombe
Photos courtesy of Micah Larson
A ninth-place finish told only part of the story on Wednesday for Ely’s high school boys track team at the subsection competition.
The Timberwolves, who fielded one of their smallest rosters in recent history, had a day full for individual bests and improvement, and managed to send three individuals and a relay to next week’s Section 7A meet, set for Thursday, June 10 at Cloquet.
Senior Emmett Faltesek was fourth in the 800 meter run and continued his charge toward a potential state meet berth, while junior Micah Larson sprinted his way to sections in the 100 dash.
Sophomore high jumper Jake Cochran also moves on, and Cochran joined Leo Stalmer, Jon Hakala and Gabriel Pointer on a 7A qualifying four-by-800 relay quartet.
Add numerous other solid showings and it was a good event for the Wolves.


Girls punch tickets to 7A

by Tom Coombe
Photos courtesy of Micah Larson
Four third-place finishes were the highlights of a solid subsection meet for Ely’s high school girls track team.
While the Wolves finished fifth overall on a sunny Wednesday at Aurora, they punched a whopping 11 tickets to the June 10 Section 7A Meet at Cloquet.
That includes nine individual slots and two relays, with junior Annikka Mattson and sophomore Zoe Devine qualifying in three events each.
“The girls had a great day with several personal bests,” said head coach Eliza Vistica. “Many girls moved up several spots from where they were seeded to qualify for sections.”
Mattson sprinted to a third-place finish in the 400 meter dash (1:05.21), while Devine placed third in the 3,200 run in 12:56.18.
Junior Ande Visser qualified for sections by taking third in the discus (96-1), and
Ely advanced a four-by-800 relay team that took third in 10:45.8.


Ely outslugs and outscores Deer River, 27-24

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school softball team experienced both ends of the offensive spectrum, in a matter of five days.
After failing to get a base runner against Cherry’s Lauren Staples, who fired a five-inning perfect game in a May 21 game at Ely, the Wolves turned things around in amazing fashion on Tuesday.
Ely came out slugging, building a 17-1 lead and then hanging on for a 27-24 victory at Deer River.
The Wolves (9-8) played at Two Harbors Thursday and seem likely to go on the road Tuesday when the Section 7A playoffs begin.
Barring an unanticipated shift in the standings, the Wolves will be seeded fifth in the north half of the section and travel to play number-four Littlefork-Big Falls. A win puts the Wolves into the double-elimination phase of the tournament, which starts June 3 at Grand Rapids.


Wolves defeat NE Range in five

by Tom Coombe
After a rough outing on Monday, the Ely Timberwolves bounced back with a vengeance.
Mason Davis’ three-run double fueled a six-run fourth inning and Ely went on to a 12-2, five-inning victory over rival Northeast Range Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Field.
The Wolves improved to 8-9 and rebounded from a disastrous Monday, when they fell 21-0 in five innings to Eveleth-Gilbert.
Junior Bryce Fairchild and sophomore Logan Loe combined to contain the Nighthawks, and the Ely offense warmed up after a pair of quiet innings against Northeast Range lefty Isaac Hendrickson.
Davis, who also scored twice, walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-1 and Drew Marolt’s two-run single provided some cushion.
In the fourth, the floodgates opened as junior Jacob Towley singled in a run and Davis followed with his key blow.


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