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Ely sweeps IRC

Officially, Ely hasn’t been part of the Iron Range Conference since the 1970s.But that wasn’t about to stop the Ely Timberwolves from becoming the Range’s top high school girls cross country program.Sophomore Casey Sovil was first overall, Ely had four of the top 11 finishers, and the Wolves claimed the IRC team title at Tuesday’s conference meet at Hoyt Lakes.The Wolves, who are favored to defend their Section 7A title at this Thursday’s section competition at Cloquet, honed up for the postseason and continued their dominance over northeastern Minnesota foes.Ely topped two Class AA opponents in Grand Rapids and Hibbing and picked up another first-place trophy.Sovil and teammates Jenna Klein, Jennifer Zupancich and Carolyn Freeman all earned all-conference honors.A fast start sparked Sovil, who completed the 4,000 meter course in 15 minutes, 48 seconds and topped her nearest competitor - Hibbing’s Jodi Schmitz - by 14 seconds.“She ran really, really well,” said Ely Head Coach Jayne Dusich. “She took the lead right from the start. Actually, she and Jenna both did. Those two were out in front right away.”Klein was passed by Schmitz and Heidi Mondry of Grand Rapids down the stretch but still wound up fourth in 16:04.Zupancich rebounded from an injury with a seventh-place run of 16:14 while Freeman - despite an off-day - still earned all-conference recognition and placed 11th overall in 16:26.Rounding out the Ely varsity contingent were Taryn Cunningham (17th, 16:46), Amelia Donars (33rd, 17:44) and Zoe Lampman (37th, 18:01).Ely’s junior varsity team was third in the IRC event, behind champion Grand Rapids and one point away from runner-up Hibbing.Kit Anderson (sixth, 18:00) and Abby Zupancich (eighth, 18:03) both had top-10 standings.Also running were Sarah Markwardt (13th, 18:48), Sarah Anderson (14th, 18:48), Mary Bruels (15th, 19;01), Glenn Hartman-Mattson (17th, 19:22) and Naomi Weckman (19th, 19:38).Ely also picked up a team victory at Grand Rapids Oct. 7, riding the performances of Sovil, Klein and Freeman to victory.Sovil took third in 14:52 with Klein 15 seconds back in fourth place. Freeman was eighth in 15:31.“Casey and Jenna went out and stayed with (individual winner) Samantha (Smith, of Cromwell) and Carolyn had an excellent race - she was way up there,” said Dusich.Cunningham had her best run of the season at Grand Rapids, taking 15th in 16:03.The rest of the Ely contingent included Zupancich (35th, 17:00), Donars (38th, 17:03), Mary Anderson (39th, 17:17), Lampman (41st, 17:20), Markwardt (62nd, 18:31) and Weckman (72nd, 19:25).“Taryn had her best race ever and it was a good race for a lot of the girls,” said Dusich.Ely’s junior high team wrapped up its season at Grand Rapids.The Wolves had five runners participate. They were:• Mariah Barker, 23rd, 17:09;• Thea Gessler, 33rd, 18:46;• Maggie Jesme, 34th, 18:57;• Alex Stene, 35th, 19:02;

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