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The Two Harbors Agates swim team works out in the weight room to get ready for the season.

North Shore schools off and running ... and swimming

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The summer is coming to a close, and that means that fall sports are just beginning. Sports at Two Harbors and William Kelley high schools have already started, and the coaches and players are working hard to get ready for their upcoming competitions.

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Two Harbors Agates Sports:

Football:

With two practices each day, Two Harbors Agates football has hit the ground running. Practices take place on the Two Harbors High School practice field from 8-10:30 a.m. and 5-7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The captains, Mike Nordean, Kyle Omtvedt, Kyler Kinn, and Mark Pearson, have been chosen to lead the team this season.

"We have a great group of guys who have come out this year, and I think we may surprise a few people," Nordean said.

Head coach Tom Nelson said that because of a rough year last year with a younger team, the incoming players will have more experience.

"We've got a lot of really solid athletes. I'm excited to see how we perform," Nelson said. "I absolutely love the group of kids I have."

Nelson said the players have good chemistry and work very hard.

Luke Heikkila, defensive coordinator; Ryan McIntyre, quarterback and junior varsity coach; and Derrick Hietala, offensive line and junior varsity coach, are all returning to coach this year.

"They've been fantastic," Nelson said. "It's been a great group to work with."

Volleyball:

Agates volleyball practice started Aug. 12 and will last for the rest of summer from 4-7 p.m. daily at the Two Harbors High School gym. Official teams were chosen on Wednesday, after a week and a half of tryouts and conditioning. The captains, Mia Minkkinen, Lane Schraufnagel and Claire Hoffert, chosen last year, are excited to see what the season has in store for the team.

"Everybody is staying extremely positive, which will be a great asset to our team this season," Schraufnagel said. "The next few months will be tons of hard work, competition, and teamwork, and we are all excited."

With a fairly new coaching staff, varsity coach Beth Innis will return for a second year, and junior varsity coach Katya Gordon will begin her coaching career this year.

"I think we're going to have a much better year than last year. All of our starters are back and we have a lot of talented younger players coming up," Innis said, "We have great, hard-working, great-attitude girls, and if we change things for the better, I think it'll all show."

Swimming:

Agates swimmers splashed into the pool for practice Aug. 12 at the Two Harbors High School pool. Practices are from 3:15-6:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9:15-12:15 on Fridays. Captains, chosen by a team vote, are Leann Fynboh, Mara Boulanger and Alicia Torgersen.

Head coach Heather Mayfield hopes the team will continue their undefeated record of the past two years. She will be assisted by Kathy Ronning and Nadine Uremovich.

"We are striving to keep that record this year," Mayfield said. "Three girls went to state last year, and I hope we get more this year."

The swim team also welcomes a few swimmers from Silver Bay.

Girls Soccer:

Girls soccer will be starting off strong, as most of them have played together this summer. They began with a Midnight Madness practice, a family potluck and an alumni game, which started at 11 p.m. on Aug. 12. Practices are from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The captains are juniors Briana Stuberud and Sam Dewey.

"Our team is really young this year, but we have a lot of young talent coming up that'll really bring us up and into a great level of play," Stuberud said. "We all pretty much played together in the off season, so we know what skills we have and where our weaknesses are on the field that we have to work on. I think we can come together and have a great season."

Varsity coach Jeff Peterson will be assisted by Joe Tietge. Lauren Miller, new this year, will coach junior varsity.

"We play a really tough schedule," Peterson said. "We only won one game last year and we're looking to improve this year. The kids have a great attitude. I'm very excited."

Peterson said the Agates played in a scrimmage against Trinity that "went really well."

"Everybody has a real willingness to improve," Peterson said. "We'll just see where it goes. I have a good feeling about this group."

Boys Soccer:

Agates boys soccer began their preseason practices Aug. 12 at 4:30 p.m. and continued until 6:30 at the soccer field at the Two Harbors High School. The captains are seniors Eli Hebl and Brad Smith.

"We're going to have to work hard, especially because we're a young team," Hebl said. "I have great expectations for us."

According to head coach David Lukkonen, who will be assisted by Seth Nelson, the key

positions have been filled by returning players. Grant Anderson, coming off a hip injury from last year, will be the goalie, while Brad Smith will take the sweeper position and Eli Hebl will be the center midfielder.

"We don't have a summer recreation program at our school, so we're starting from scratch while other teams have been playing all summer," Lukkonen said, addressing the challenges. However, he said, "We're more balanced than we were in previous years. We're playing as a team, cohesively."

The Agates recently played in a jamboree against Superior, tying 1-1.

Cross Country Running:

The cross country running season has just started. Practices are not at a set time, but vary. While captains have not yet been chosen, there are experienced seniors ready to lead the team.

Beth Shield, the coach for a number of years, will be returning to train runners for the new season.

William Kelley High School

Football:

Mariners football practices have been up and running since Aug. 12 at the William Kelley High School football field, and are held from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

Head coach Ward Kaiser and assistant coach Jamie Otterblad have been filling most of the key positions with returning players, but not all positions have been chosen.

"Over the next week we'll be making up our mind," Kaiser said.

The team will face challenges over the season including staying healthy, getting experience for younger players, and a more competitive schedule, as smaller schools are combining to form more difficult teams.

"It's definitely become more of a challenge, but it makes for better football," Kaiser said. "We have a more experienced team this year with a lot of athleticism and good leadership."

Captains haven't been picked yet. Kaiser lists Chad Smuk, Luc Small, Jonah Koehler and Michael Klofstad as good leaders on the team, among others.

Volleyball:

William Kelley High School volleyball started Aug 12. The practices, which are at the high school gym, are from 3:30-7:30 or 8 p.m. Volleyball captains, previously chosen, are Brandi Nopola and Sydney Topp, both seniors who are ready to lead the team.

Varsity coach Tom Frericks, with a coaching career of about 20 years with the Mariners, will continue coaching this year.

"They'll be good at the end of the season, and you want to be good at the end of the season," Frericks said, "They'll be good defensively, and I think they won't let the ball hit the floor. They're really scrappy and have a lot of heart."

Andrea McMillan will be the junior varsity coach, and Kelly Senstad will coach C team.

"We may be a young team, but we definitely aren't inexperienced," Nopola and Topp said.

The team will play in a jamboree game against Esko on Wednesday.

"The girls are working hard," Frericks said. "That's all I can ask."

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