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Despite graduation hit, boys have track talent

They graduated several top seniors from a team that finished second in subsection competition a year ago, but Ely’s high school boys track team still has some returning talent.The Timberwolves put that talent to the test Thursday, when they open the regular season with a meet at Virginia.Ely won several individual subsection titles and was second-best in the team standings last spring behind a deep senior nucelus.The Wolves have just three returning seniors this year - with 2003 section meet qualifier Shaun Hall leading the way.But a host of underclassmen, some of whom got valuable varsity experience last spring, may be ready to step up.First-year head coach Darren Visser said the Wolves figure to be strong in the mid-distance events.Hall was part of a section-qualifying relay crew last year, and he’ll likely anchor the Wolves’ relays this time around.“Shaun Hall is probably our strongest returning runner,” said Visser, who was an assistant in the track program for several seasons. “We’re looking at the middle-distance events that will probably be our strength. We’ve got some guys who can run the 400 and 800.”Hall, Gavin Bialke and Dan Krunkkala are Ely’s three seniors, while a deep junior contingent includes John Eininger, Mike Krunkkala, Eric Park, Luke Spangler, Billy Saw, Mike Pettit, Andrew Osthoff and Pat McDonald.Adam Shultz is only a sophomore, but he boasts state meet experience in cross country skiing and he appears to be the team’s best distance runner.“He came on last year, so we’re looking for a strong season out of him,” said Visser. “Our weakness right now is probably the short sprints.”Other sophomores on the squad are Steve Milkovich, Eric McDonald and Aaron Badillo.Freshman Travis Cunningham placed in distance events a year ago, and he’s joined by classmates Justin Adams and Austin Owens on the team.In all, Ely had 28 athletes in grades 7-12. Keith Turner and Will Helms serve as Visser’s assistant coaches.Ely High SchoolBoys Track2004 ScheduleThursday: at VirginiaApr. 20: at VirginiaApr. 22: at VirginiaMay 8: at Doc Savage, HibbingMay 13: at O.J. Belluzzo, HibbingMay 18: at Deer RiverMay 25: at Subsections, Hibbing

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