Sports Roundup: April 9Agates track hope for return to state, SB track, TH baseball, SB baseball, SB softball
By: Matt Suoja and Steve Gow, Lake County News Chronicle
Agates track hope for return to state
After sending four competitors to state last year, the Two Harbors track team is set for another strong season.
Last season current seniors Ryan Guentzel and Alex Horoshak, along with juniors Chad Brelie and Caleb Hamp-Sill competed on the 4-by-200 meter relay team at state. Guentzel also competed in the 400 meters and Horoshak the long jump.
No one made it past the preliminaries.
This type of success should continue in the future.
“[There are] 120 athletes (boys and girls) in grades 7-12 in this years track and field program,” said head coach Tony Altiere who is in his 10th year coaching.
Other returners on the boys side include seniors: throwers Alex Rohde and Tony Ankley; juniors: sprinter Jon McDannold and distance runner Josh Ensign, along with sophomore hurdler Kevin Thewis.
Among the girls on the team include seniors: thrower Nicole Johnson, distance runners Mercedes Leininger and Sonja Peterson and sprinter Brittany Seeber. Juniors on the team include jumper Nina Bukowski, jumper and sprinter Maire McMahon, distance runner Anna Schield and sprinter Emily Zeimet. Sophomores include throwers Kaley Peterson and Steph McGregor and sprinter Lacey Myrdal.
Last season both the boys and girls teams finished second in the Polar League Conference meet, while placing third in the subsections. The boys placed fifth in the sections while the girls were No. 7.
Throwers Matt Wicklund and Logan Gow, distance runner Jamie Merrill and hurdler Alec Fuentes will not be returning due to graduation. Sprinter and jumper Britty Wicklund also graduated last year.
Two Harbors will host the Polar League Conference Championship this season.
After not qualifying anyone for sections last year, Silver Bay track coach Rick Frericks is optimistic that the team could turn the corner this year.
The team does have 18 competitors on it compared to nine last year. Four girls are also out compared to one last season. Frericks pointed to seniors for doing some recruiting of students who were not already participating in a spring sport.
“The goal for some of these kids is making sections,” Frericks said.
Among some of the top returners this year will be senior distance runners Shane Loeffler and Sam Otterblad.
“[Loeffler] really came on strong last year,” Frericks said. “I think he’s [Otterblad] going to have a good year.”
Sophomores Baruch Fischer and Josh DeHart will also look to lead the boys team in shot put and discus.
The boys team didn’t lose anyone from last season.
The girls team consists of competitors between seventh and ninth grade. The only returning one will be Abby Michels, an eighth grader.
Frericks does have hopes for a good season from both his teams.
“It boils down to how hard the kids are going to work,” he said.
After losing some top flight seniors last season that made it to the section Final Four, along with playing on a less than desirable field once again, fans have to rest their hopes on a very youthful squad playing on an old field.
The baseball field at the current high school was projected to be ready this season, but will not be played on.
“The outfield is great,” said head coach Rick Coughlin about the field at the high school. “It’s [the infield] kind of a safety hazard.”
Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said the infield is where the problem lays with a dangerous hump behind the pitcher’s mound. He said they will have to re-grade that area of the field so it will hopefully be ready for the next season. That would not be paid for by the original contractor because it appears to be more of a settling issue.
The field has also faced problems in the past such as drainage issues, which have been fixed along with a contractor putting down the wrong agricultural line, Minkkinen said. Originally the contractor put down crushed limestone, when they should have used a different type of rock which lets the water run through it. That problem was also fixed.
As for the team, they will be without star pitcher Joel Wuorio, who graduated last year and is now playing for the College of St. Scholastica. Other players lost to graduation include pitcher and centerfielder Matt Bruley, second baseman Erik Magnuson, pitcher Tom Udenberg, pitcher Fordes Lodin, first baseman Matt Jacob, infielder Myles Erickson, third baseman Nate Cavallin and left fielder Scott Kovacovich.
“We lost all are pitching,” Coughlin said. He said no one on the team has experience pitching at the varsity level. “It’s definitely a rebuilding year.”
Among those who will be leading the squad this year include seniors: shortstop Scott Comrie and catcher Matt McDannold, along with junior center fielder Ben Ruberg. Helping on the hill could be juniors John Forsberg and Ruberg, as well as sophomores Bill Sell and Sam Strom.
“We don’t know yet until we play,” Coughlin said about what the team has.
On Tuesday, the Agates lost 17-2 at Hayward in their opener.
The Silver Bay Mariners will enter a new season with a new coach – Shawn Bartlette.
Bartlette, who has coached the Mariner hockey boys hockey team since 2008, will be leading a team that lost in the second round of the playoffs last season.
“We expect to be competitive and get better every game,” Bartlette said. “We are a very young team with only one senior so with a strong season from the underclassmen we should be able to compete in every game.”
Among those who will be returning this season include senior pitcher and shortstop Hunter Panetti along with juniors: second baseman Warren Carter, first baseman and pitcher Ryan DeShaw and catcher Zach Bulen.
They will try and make up for the losses of outfielder Tanner Viola, who’s playing at the College of St. Scholastica, and pitcher Jake Topp, both of whom were lost to graduation.
“We need to have good leadership from our returning players as well as see improvement every game from our first year players,” Bartlette said. “Another key to our teams success will be the strength of our pitching staff.”
Silver Bay scored six times in the top of the fourth inning as they sent ten batters to the plate to take a 10-7 lead over the Mesabi East Giants at Hoyt Lakes in the 2010 softball opener Tuesday for both teams.
It seemed that the Mariners were on a roll and were ready to cruise to their first win of the season especially after they upped their lead to 15-7 after six and a half innings of play. The Giants played like you should in that it is not over until the last out. They erupted for six runs in the bottom of the seventh and had a runner on second with one out and a batter up that could make it a tie game. The Bay called time out and switched pitchers. Nikki Babbitt came in and got the final two batters to ground out to end the game and thus picked up the save and giving the win to Kirstin Sandstrom who went five innings on the mound.
After a scoreless first inning the Mariners put two across in the second only to see the Giants reply with four of their own. After the Giants outscored the Bay 3-2 in the third, they led 7-4. The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the fourth and Sandstrom cleared them with a grand slam via a line drive that was past the Giant outfielders before they knew what happened. This gave the Mariners a lead that they would never relinquish.
Leading the attack for the Mariners was Katie Smedstad who was 4-for-5 at the plate with three doubles and two RBIs. Shay Viola and Taylor Guzzo each added three hits and Marina Carter, Babbitt and Jessalyn Rowlee each had two. Viola led off and scored three times to go with two runs each from Guzzo, Babbitt, Smedstad, Rowlee and Brittany Duresky. Sandstrom finished with four RBIs and Guzzo had three.
The Mariners finished with 15 runs on 17 hits. The game was played during cold and windy conditions.