Ely Marathon on as scheduled

by Tom Coombe
At least for now, the Ely Marathon and its associated events are still on as scheduled.
The 26.2-mile race that wraps up at Ely’s Whiteside Park is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, and organizers are proceeding - and have even announced unique prize packages for the winners - with their plans.
“Although no one knows what course COVID-19 will take in September, we are hopeful about our little race taking place,” said Wendy Lindsay, who has organized the event since its inception several years ago.
Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, which is held each June, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic while numerous other sports and community events have also been scrapped or delayed.
In Ely, the Blueberry/Art Festival set for July has been cancelled but the Harvest Moon Festival, slated for Sept. 11-13 is still on.
The marathon follows two weeks later and Lindsay says she will hold out before making a decision to postpone.


No school, no sports for Wolves

by Tom Coombe
There were more than enough hints and the proverbial handwriting had been on the wall for at least a couple of weeks.
Yet that didn’t make things any easier for high school athletes in Ely, or elsewhere in Minnesota.
When Gov. Tim Walz announced last week that students wouldn’t return to school this spring, he also ended any hope that high school spring sports would take place this year.
Within minutes of Walz’s announcement, the Minnesota State High School League made it official, cancelling seasons that had been put on hold since mid-March.
The ramifications in Ely were far reaching.
Senior Luke Olson wouldn’t get the opportunity to defend his State Class A title in the 800 meter run, while classmates Raif Olson, Eric Omerza and Brielle Kallberg lost their opportunity to punch return tickets to state.


Vermilion adds third Ely player

When the Vermilion Ironmen return to the baseball diamond in 2021, there will be some familiar faces on the team.
Nils DeRemee became the latest local player to commit to Vermilion, following fellow Ely High School senior Dalton Schreffler, who committed earlier in the month.
The two current Ely Timberwolves will join 2019 Ely graduate Tyler Housey, as well as senior Danny Crockett of North Woods, on the Vermilion roster next season.
All four local players are teammates on Ely’s American Legion baseball team.
“We’re thrilled to have so many local guys on our roster,” said Tom Coombe, head baseball coach at VCC. “While students and baseball players come to Vermilion from all over the state and elsewhere in the nation, there’s a great high school baseball program in Ely and it means a lot to us that these guys are sticking around to play at home.”


Johnston skis at nationals

by Tom Coombe
Ely skiing sensation Jasper Johnston wasn’t at his best at a national event in California in early-March, but conditions and circumstances were less than ideal.
The three-time all-state Nordic skier had already qualified for the U.S. National Training Camp this summer, but he traveled west after the high school season to take part in the USSS Cross Country Junior Nationals at Donner Summit.
There, Johnston not only dealt with high altitudes and warm temperatures, but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which cut short the weeklong event.
Before the competition was shelved, Johnston placed 34th in a 10-kilometer classic event and 73rd in a 1.2K skate sprint.
The Ely junior said this week that neither finish was satisfying, and that the competitions were scrapped before the race he was most looking forward to - a 10K mass skate.
“I think if I had time to acclimate I would have had better races,” said Johnston.


Howling from Home a hit in Ely

by Anne Swenson
An effort to bring people together by howling at a full moon was a hit not just in Ely, but other areas of the world as well.
Created by Adam Bisbee, the event grew via Facebook and likely included over 500 participants for, “Howl from Home - Community in a time of Social Distancing.”
Bisbee was more than pleased with the results on Monday night.
“If I estimated I’d say about 300 people participated in Ely, Winton and around area lakes. Another 50-200 around the state and country. The event was shared and duplicated by so many people it became tough to track,” said Bisbee.
The original question from Bisbee was, “Is the sound of community recordable? Can we hear our support of one another?”
With that in mind he picked Monday night’s full moon at 9:35 p.m. as the time for people to go outside and give their best howl to community members.


In darkness, lights of hope

Starting this week, Ely High School will turn the lights on at its baseball and football fields and join a campaign that now includes approximately 250 Minnesota high schools.
Both Monday and Friday evenings, the lights at Veterans Memorial Field and Ely School Stadium will go on at 8:20 p.m., and stay on for approximately 20 minutes and 20 seconds.
With high school athletic activities suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, #BeTheLightMN started last week and has quickly picked up steam.
From north to south, schools and in some cases entire conferences have come on board to turn on the lights one or two nights each week to show support for and solidarity with their students, staff and communities.
Lights have gone on at football/soccer/lacrosse stadiums, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, all over the state.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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