Girls first, boys second at sections
They captured their second straight section championship and senior Jenna Klein swept the classical and freestyle races en route to her fourth consecutive individual section crown.But the Ely Nordic Wolves have come so far that the Section 7 competition - held last Thursday at Giants Ridge - serves as little more than a tune-up for the main event.That would be this Friday’s state meet, also at Giants Ridge.The Ely girls set up a showdown with rival Grand Rapids for the state title with a dominant performance last week.Ely had three of the top four finishers in the freestyle race, the top-two and a fifth-place showing in the classical event, and rolled to the team title with 779 points.And the Ely boys team had its best showing yet in a section event, with Adam Shultz, Willy Vosburgh and Nick Peterson all qualifying for state as they led the Wolves to a second-place team standing.All-in-all, it was a solid day for the Wolves, especially a girls team that has raced past section foes all season long.Ely, ranked second in the state, hopes to improve on a third-place team showing from 2004 and dethrone Grand Rapids when they meet Friday.“The girls just needed to get through this,” said Ely Head Coach Paula Anderson. “They definitely met expectations. Everybody skied just fine. Everyone did pretty much what they needed to do.”With tremendous depth, Ely was a prohibitive favorite to capture the section team crown again.The pleasant surprise for the Wolves was the effort turned in by the boys team.They finished second only to perennial power Duluth East in the team standings, and Shultz, Vosburgh and Peterson all had big performances.“The boys probably exceeded expectations,” said Anderson. “Willy had the race of his life. He was geared. He was an extremely talented skier and he showed that. Adam has been sick but he came back and had a good race. He’s definitely back. And Nick Peterson, his goal was to make it to state and he did. That was the real unknown going into the day and we as coaches were very happy for him.”The Ely girls, meanwhile, kept right on with a pace that has left opponents trying to catch up.Klein won the 5.3-kilometer freestyle race in 17:03 and the 5.3-kilometer classical race in 17:54, pulling away for an overall pursuit title.Senior Kelly Chaudoin was second in classical (18:41), third in freestyle (17:43) and third overall.Casey Sovil, a sophomore, was fourth in the freestyle race in 18:0 and wound up fourth overall.Senior Ali Schulze gave the Wolves a fifth-place finish in classical (19:07).Ely had two more top-10 finishers in the freestyle race with Ellen Anderson taking sixth and Carolyn Freeman placing 10th. The Wolves’ Taryn Cunningham finished 15th.Freeman was seventh, Sovil finished eighth and Cunningham 24th in the classical race.The Wolves and Grand Rapids have squared off this season, but never in the format that will be used at Friday’s state meet.“It’s definitely going to be a nail-biter,” said Anderson.The Ely boys got a spark from Vosburgh, who placed fourth in the freestyle in 15:28. The senior qualified for state for a third straight year.Shultz, a junior, was eighth in freestyle (15:57) but picked up the pace in the classical race finishing second only to Duluth East’s Jason Kask, who swept the boys competition.Vosburgh added a sixth-place showing in the classical and Peterson, a sophomore, earned a state bid by taking ninth in the classical in 17:03. Peterson also finished 13th in freestyle.Andrew Osthoff (22nd), David Erickson (23rd) and Stephen Markwardt (49th) completed the Ely contingent in freestyle, while Erickson was 26th, Osthoff 27th and Markwardt 44th in the classical.Ely piled up 718 points, 63 behind the victorious Greyhounds but well ahead of a field that included Mesabi East-Virginia, Duluth Central, Duluth Denfeld, Duluth Marshall, Proctor, Cook County, Cloquet and Two Harbors.