Winless skaters show progress

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school hockey team remains without a victory, but the Timberwolves’ fourth straight defeat was their most competitive yet.
The Wolves put up a season-high 31 shots on goal in a 1043 loss to Moose Lake Area, in a Dec. 13 contest at the Ely Arena.
Ely’s final game before a holiday break was very competitive for two periods, and came on the heels of a lopsided 12-0 defeat against section contender Eveleth-Gilbert just three days earlier.
Senior Luke Olson, who had all four goals for Ely, scored twice in the first 10 minutes of play to give the hosts an early 2-1 lead.
The Rebels, who had a size advantage against an Ely team that includes several freshmen and eighth-graders, were more physical and got to the Wolves as the contest progressed.
Rebels Jordan Fjosne and Henry Ribich both scored in the final five minutes of the opening period on the way to hat tricks of their own.


OT only blemish for Ely girls

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school girls basketball team is a missed free throw away from a perfect start.
Other than a late collapse that resulted in an overtime defeat to Two Harbors last weekend, it has been smooth sailing for the Timberwolves, who improved to 4-1 Tuesday night with a 60-24 romp at Silver Bay.
The lopsided win eased some of the sting from Saturday, when a shorthanded Ely team ran out of gas in the second half as a 16-point lead went by the wayside and the visiting Agates rallied for a 51-47 win.
Ely missed several free throws late in regulation and a last-second basket forced overtime, where the Wolves again struggled at the free throw line.
Ely went 17-for-40 from the line, which set the stage for a tough finish.


Wolves reload, start strong

by Tom Coombe
It may be too early to say how the Ely Timberwolves will stack up this winter in Section 7A, but Tuesday’s season-opener offered more than a few reasons for optimism.
The Wolves, despite an overall lack of height, a key injury-related absence, and several new faces in the lineup, ran away from visiting Two Harbors in the second half of a 76-41 high school boys basketball victory.
Senior Dylan Fenske had 31 points and 11 rebounds and classmate Evan Omerza dished out a game-high 11 assists as the Wolves warmed up after a slow start.
Fenske and Omerza are the only returning starters for an Ely team that, entering the 2019-20 season, is a question mark in 7A.


Wolves take to the ice

by Tom Coombe
This winter, Ely will field one of the youngest teams in the history of its high school hockey program.
Yet head coach Ben Johnson said there’s no shortage of talent or desire among the Timberwolves, who open the 2019-20 season this weekend with a two-game home set against Kittson Central of northwestern Minnesota.
Only a handful of upperclassmen are on a 23-player roster, but fifth-year head coach Ben Johnson nonetheless likes what he has seen out of his team in early-season practices.
“We’re three weeks ahead of any team we have had the last four years,” said Johnson. “Obviously we’re super super young, but they are good players who are catching on quick. By far it’s the best attitude and work ethic we’ve had going into a season.”
The Wolves went just 5-16-1 last winter, but their fifth win was historic - a 3-2 playoff victory over International Falls in what was the program’s first-ever win against the Broncos.


Dynamic duo leads Ely girls

by Tom Coombe
If high school athletes could qualify for a pension, Erika Mattson and Brielle Kallberg would be vested.
Both senior standouts have been part of the Timberwolves’ varsity team for six years and starters for five, and they provide a potent one-two punch as Ely opens the 2019-20 high school girls basketball campaign Tuesday at Nashwauk-Keewatin.
Mattson has developed into one of the deadliest three-point shooters in northeastern Minnesota while Kallberg, a state track qualifier and an NCAA Division II volleyball recruit, is one of the best athletes in Section 7A.
They’ll team with fellow senior Winter Sainio to provide both talent and leadership to an otherwise young, and relatively inexperienced, Ely team.
“We have a lot of key people back with Winter, Brielle and Erika and then it gets to a lot of youth,” said Ely Head Coach Darren Visser. “We go from three experienced players down to a lot of younger players.”


Records fall, medals won

by Tom Coombe
A season of growth in the water couldn’t have ended much better for Northeast Range/Ely.
All that was missing from last weekend’s Section 7A girls swimming meet was a bid to state and Ely senior Brooke Pasmick, nearly had that, finishing third in the 100 backstroke and missing out on moving on by less than two-tenths of a second.
NRE also returned home from Hibbing with several medals and a slew of team-record and personal-best performances.
Not bad for a team that had just one senior - Pasmick - and was loaded with swimmers in ninth grade or below.
“Today was only the beginning for a young team like ours,” said Ely ninth grader Lily Tedrick, who earned two medals at section and set team records in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.


From Ely to the NCAA

by Tom Coombe
Two Ely Timberwolves are taking their games to a new level.
Seniors Luke Olson and Brielle Kallberg, standouts in an array of sports at the high school, both signed letters of intent this week to play collegiate athletics.
Olson has accepted an offer to join the men’s track and field team at NCAA Division I South Dakota, while Kallberg is set to play volleyball at Minnesota State-Moorhead, an NCAA Division II school.
Signing ceremonies Wednesday in Ely capped a recruiting process that resulted in significant interest in both Timberwolves.
Olson visited several schools before settling on South Dakota, and Kallberg attracted the attention of numerous college volleyball programs.
A state champion last spring in the 800 meter run, Olson becomes the second Ely athlete to currently compete at the Division I level in track, joining 2017 Ely graduate Josh Heiman, a triple jumper at Army.


Olson 7th, boys 12th at state

by Tom Coombe
Luke Olson saved his best for last, and the result was another high finish in the state cross country meet and a personal record to boot.
The Ely senior finished seventh in Saturday’s Class A state meet at Northfield, the same as he did a year ago.
Olson’s time of 16 minutes. 4.5 seconds, however, was his best and good enough to be right at the top of the field in some years.
The seventh-place finish by Olson capped a chilly day on the campus of St. Olaf for the Ely boys team, which finished 12th among 16 Class A squads. The Wolves had qualified as a team on the strength of a second-place finish in Section 7A the week before.
Olson, a state track champion earlier this year, won all-state recognition for a third straight year and was part of an elite pack at the head of the Class A boys race.
At the 1500 meter mark, reports from the course indicated that Olson was in fourth place.


Wolves’ upset bid falls short

by Tom Coombe
For the second time in as many years, Carlton stood in the way of Ely’ quest for a berth in the Section 7A finals.
But the top-seeded Bulldogs knew they were in for a battle Wednesday.
The defending Section 7A champions survived a first-game scare and a third-game hiccup while pulling out a 25-22. 25-11, 23-25, 25-18 victory at Hibbing’s Lincoln Gymnasium.
Ely, which finished 25-4, fell in the 7A semifinals to the Bulldogs just as it did in 2018, but the rematch was far more competitive than last year’s Carlton sweep.
The state-ranked Bulldogs (27-2), who haven’t lost to a 7A team in more than two years and hadn’t lost as much as a set since Sept. 20, were caught flat-footed early on as a revved-up Wolves team jumped out to a 13-8 lead on some big hits by junior McKenna Coughlin.
Carlton weathered the storm and rallied, setting the tone for the match.


Boys run their way to state

by Tom Coombe
Luke Olson was the Ely Timberwolves’ only participant in last year’s state boys cross country meet.
This year, he’ll have plenty of company.
Led by Olson, who took third overall in his final Section 7A meet, the Ely boys finished second as a team and punched their own ticket to next weekend’s state competition at Northfield.
Olson, an all-stater in his junior year, set a strong pace on a blustery Thursday in Cloquet as the Wolves went toe-to-toe with 7A champion Greenway but came up three points shy of the section title.
Junior Emmett Faltesek took eighth while junior Jasper Johnson and sophomore Gabriel Pointer also cracked the top-20 to help spur Ely’s second-place team finish.
Nobody will advance from the Ely girls team, which was eighth in 7A, but ninth-grader Zoe Devine was in the mix for a state berth and settled for 17th overall.


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