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Ely boys, girls runners earn repeat trips to state

Patrick Slack
Posted 11/2/16

CLOQUET - Last year’s dual trips to state elevated Ely into one of the top cross country programs in the state.

This year solidified it.

With a sense of urgency to make another run with a …

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CROSS COUNTRY

Back-to-Back

Ely boys, girls runners earn repeat trips to state

Posted

CLOQUET - Last year’s dual trips to state elevated Ely into one of the top cross country programs in the state.

This year solidified it.

With a sense of urgency to make another run with a combined five seniors and an eagerness to replicate last fall’s success, the Ely boys and girls both earned runner-up finishes at Thursday’s Section 7A meet in Cloquet to clinch trips to state.

As they did throughout the fall, the Ely girls followed the lead of senior Erin Bianco.

Bianco started out strong, hanging with the lead pack early on her way to a third-place time of 20:03.9.

“Definitely raced my hardest trying to stay with the top girls right away,” Bianco said.

Junior Ryne Prigge finished close behind, capturing seventh place in 20:24.5.

Junior Emma Terwilliger took 15th place in 21:02.3, senior Caroline Homer was 25th in 21:35.8 and freshman Kalyssa Eilrich was 53rd in 22:55.7 to round out the scoring and propel Ely on to state.

“Right before the race we got super pumped up because we didn’t want to get third,” Bianco said. “I believed in the team and in myself just by how the season has gone.”

Junior Evelyn Bercher took 66th in 23:25.0 and senior Taryn Osthoff placed 71st in 24:06.3.

“Erin had a goal to be up front and had an excellent race,” Ely head coach Jayne Dusich said. “Ryne pushed it to come in seventh; Emma had one of her best races; Kalyssa had a great race to be our fifth runner; Evelyn and Taryn ran strong until the end.”

Homer’s performance was particularly key, returning from injury late in the season to play a vital role in the team advancing.

“Very important to have Caroline back,” Dusich said. “She did run three races before sections, but they were just to get her back into run-ning. Sections was her race to get serious and she ran better than I thought she would.”

Proctor took the team title with a score of 91, with Ely (103) able to fend off Esko (128) and Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin (130) for the second and final state berth.

Ely’s boys were led by youth up front, with veterans to seal the race.

Freshman Luke Olson earned sixth place in 17:02.1, eighth-grader Joey Pierce finished seventh in 17:11.4 and freshman James Schwinghammer came in 11th in 17:17.3 to pace the Wolves.

“We like to push each other or compete against each other,” Olson said. “It felt good.”

Seniors Teddy Pierce (17:30.4) and Simon Stouffer (17:54.5) also finished in the top 20 to cap the scoring and push Ely on to state, followed by juniors Ethan Hasz (18:19.7) and Ben Gustafson (18:20.8).

“Simon, Ben and Ethan had their best races,” Dusich said.

Like Homer, Teddy Pierce overcame injury to provide a crucial section performance.

“It was a big boost, but it did not take the pressure off anyone,” Dusich said. “Both Teddy and Caroline were not totally happy with their races as they would have liked to be in the best shape possible like last year, but they did what they had to do to get the teams to state.”

Ely will now compete in the Class A state meet for the second year in a row, at St. Olaf College in Northfield on Saturday.

“Wow - great for the program,” Dusich said. “The kids worked hard because they wanted to go back as teams and not individuals. I am excited about it because it had to happen this year as the girls are losing seniors Erin, Caroline and Taryn and the boys Teddy and Simon.”

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