Hall of Fame honors for Smrekar

by Tom Coombe
Bill Smrekar was the first high school hockey coach at Cambridge-Isanti.
This weekend, the Ely native will become part of the first group to be inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame.
Smrekar is one of six people - all “Cambridge-Istanti High School Legends” - that will be inducted at a ceremony on Saturday night.
A spot in the Bluejacket Hall of Fame seems a fitting cap for Smrekar, who spent his entire teaching and coaching career at Cambridge including 22 seasons behind the bench with the school’s hockey program.
“It’s very humbling,” Smrekar said earlier this week by phone. “When you start out with something as sort of a project and passion, you don’t look for any accolades. You do it for the passion you have for the game.”


Little Leaguers compete in Virginia as season ends

LITTLE LEAGUERS AT VIRGINIA TOURNEY - A group of Ely LIttle League baseball players competed last weekend at a tournament in Virginia, going 2-3 in the three-day event. Pictured are: (front, l-r) Alex Merriman, Ben Leeson, Sam Favet, Caid Chittum, Deegan Richards, Ty Walker; (back) Coach Tim Leeson, Brecken Sandberg, Kadein Zupancich, Sammy Prijatel, Erron Anderson, Logan Loe, Coach Holly Prijatel, Coach Derek Johnson. Photo courtesy of Holly Prijatel


Ely Junior Leaguers wrap up season

JUNIORS WRAP UP SEASON - Ely’s Junior League baseball team participated in last weekend’s Iron Range Baseball playoffs at International Falls. Pictured are (front, l-r): Chase Sandberg, Jason Kerntz, Eddie Prijatel, Joey Bianco, Sammy Prijatel, Sawyer Klingsporn; (back, l-r): Coach Aaron Donais, Harry Simons, Jon Hakala, Max Dean, Iver Lepisto, Bryce Fairchild, Dylan Fenske. Not pictured: Mason Davis, Jacob Towley, Cameron Kienitz, Caleb Janeksala, Mitch Peterson, Lane Anderson


HS sports teams begin practice

by Tom Coombe -


Ely dancers excel at camp

DANCERS - Madelene Johnson, Lauren Porthan, McCartney Kaercher, Savannah Johnson and Katie Lakner.


VFW districts begin in Ely

2017 Eighth District
VFW Baseball Tournament
Sponsored by Zup’s Food Market

Tournament Schedule
10 a.m. - Ely - Virginia vs Hermantown
10 a.m. - Soudan - Hibbing vs. West Duluth
12:15 p.m. - Ely - Ely vs. Duluth East
12:15 p.m. - Soudan - Cloquet vs. Grand Rapids
2:30 p.m. - Ely - Winners of two 10 a.m. games
2:30 p.m. - Soudan - Losers of two 10 a.m. games
4:45 p.m. - Ely - Losers of two 12:15 p.m. games
7 p.m. - Ely Winners of two 12:15 p.m. games

Elimination Bracket Games, 11 a.m., 1:30 and 4 p.m.
Winners Bracket Game - 6:30 p.m.

Elimination Bracket Game - 4:30 p.m.
Championship Game - 7 p.m.

Second Championship Game if necessary
6 p.m.

District champion advances to state tournament,
Aug. 10-13 at Willmar


Legion faces long road back

SWINGING AWAY - Luke Olson drove a ball to the outfield during the Ely Legion team’s 6-5 win against Deer River. Photo by Nick Wognum


Legion playoffs ready to begin; Post 248 looks to make a run in wide-open District Eight Div. II field

How tight is at the top of the Eighth District Division II American Legion Baseball standings?
Ely went into the final weekend with a chance to finish anywhere from first to sixth in a nine-team field.
That sort of parity should make for an interesting district tournament, which starts Tuesday with games at both Marble and Nashwauk.
After qualifying for the high school baseball Class A state tournament, Ely faces a much more difficult road in Legion ball with the addition of Class AA schools including Esko, Proctor and Greenway, which forms the Taconite team that is hosting this week’s double-elimination event.
But Ely (9-7) is no slouch, and went into the final weekend of regular season play still in the running for the number-one seed.
Post 248 hosts Taconite Sunday (1 p.m.) to close out the regular season, following Friday night league tilts against both Esko and Deer River.


Proud to be number one

LITTLE LEAGUE WINNERS were the Indians who beat the Cards 4-2 in the July 7 championship game behind a three run homer and the pitching of Iver Lepisto. Pictured: Front (l-r): Benny Leeson, Ty Walker. Kneeling: Jack Davies, Silas Solum, Brady Eaton, Caid Chittum, Drew Marolt, Back: Blake Walsh, Chase Anderson, Blake Schaller, Sam Leeson, Iver Lepisto. Coaches: Kevin Marolt, Mark Walker and Cory Eaton.


A sunny Four on the Fourth

by Tom Coombe
One event, two races, three winners and sunny skies produced a spectacular start to the Fourth of July in Ely.
The Janet Gensler Memorial Ely 4 on the 4th attracted 246 participants, three more than in 2016, and new winners in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
Harrison Hirsch of Vadnais Heights was the overall winner, completing the four-mile run around the Trezona Trail in 22 minutes, 27 seconds.
Hirsch outlegged Santi Ocariz of Rochester to the finish line. Ocariz was the only other contestant to crack the 23-minute mark and was second overall in 22:57.
The women’s title was shared, as high school track teammates Erin Bianco and Ryne Prigge raised their hands as they crossed the finish line in 28:53
The event doubles as a fundraiser for Ely’s self-funded high school track teams, and the Timberwolves were well represented in the annual Independence Day event.


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