Louie St. George
- Member for
- 5 years 2 months
Nobody could have possibly known it at the time, but Eveleth's 4-1 loss to Roseau in the semifinals of the 1947 boys hockey state tournament would spur one of the great dynasties in Minnesota high school sports. "We thought, 'Well we're gonna come back and we're gonna win this thing,' " said Willard Ikola, then a freshman goaltender for the Golden Bears. Big dreams for the slight netminder. They paled in comparison to what actually transpired over the next three years.
When Brendan Flaherty was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the right tonsil on April 20, 2018, he and his family at least had an idea of what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. The cancer hadn't spread much, and thus the survival rate was high, the outlook positive.
In the winter, Jorja Schooler plays defense for the Duluth Northern Stars hockey team. And while she knows her contributions in that sport are essential, they don't often show up in the box score, a space reserved for those who set up and bury the goals. The same does not hold true in the spring. Schooler is a boxscore regular for the Duluth Wolfpack, where she's the one responsible for instigating offense. The junior midfielder is pretty good at it, too. Good enough, in fact, to be leading the state with 35 goals.
Megan Gustafson has been here before. Overlooked and underappreciated, she heads to training camp with the WNBA's Dallas Wings needing to prove herself all over again despite winning several NCAA Division I national player-of-the-year awards. It's akin to the situation Gustafson faced coming out of tiny South Shore in Port Wing. The thinking went something like this: Dominating small-school opponents as a prep phenom is one thing, but wait until she gets to the Big Ten.
DECC ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME When Mark Sertich turned 80, the firefighters he plays hockey with gave him a lifetime membership that forever waived the $5 fee for their daily games at Essentia Heritage Center. "You know what they were thinking — 'Well, this isn't gonna last that long,' " Sertich's son, Steve, said. It's true. "We were absolutely thinking that," laughed Dane Youngblom, a retired firefighter and member of the morning hockey club.
Before an Achilles tendon injury intervened, cornerback Deion Harris was shooting up NFL draft boards about as fast as he jumps passes. The 2014 Hibbing graduate's breakthrough junior season at the University of North Dakota, the one that featured five interceptions and three pick-sixes, made him a hot commodity. Harris was viewed as a trendy sleeper, with Sporting News going so far as to rank him the 18th-best prospect of the 2018 draft. Granted, that was a full year before Harris' draft class. But it offers an idea of how high this ex-Bluejacket's stock had soared.
Jonathan Laughlin didn't start the 2018 cross-country season with the kind of mileage base that portends front-of-the-pack success at the NCAA Division II level. He had a credible excuse. The Minnesota Duluth freshman didn't lounge away his summer, but rather was deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia with the 148th Fighter Wing.
Already the only man or woman to win four consecutive Grandma's Marathons, Kenya's Elisha Barno will strive for No. 5 at the 43rd installment of Minnesota's oldest marathon on June 22. And he'll bring along his buddy and countryman, Grandma's record-holder Dominic Ondoro. Their New Mexico-based agent, Scott Robinson, confirmed both are planning to race in Duluth. And while that could change, it's an exciting prospect.
Go to a high school hockey game between a pair of talent-rich Northland teams and you won't have much trouble identifying the scouts in attendance, despite their best efforts to blend into the crowd. It's a quirk typically reserved for the sport this region does best. That will change this spring, provided the pro baseball scouts Joe Wicklund has talked to can navigate their way to Duluth. Hello, GPS. "The question that I've kind of chuckled at is, 'How far, exactly, is it from the Twin Cities?' " Marshall coach Wicklund said.
Multiple times this spring, first-year Hermantown softball coach Michelle Sweeney has called her predecessor, Tom Bang, to talk shop. The conversations start with a routine question before invariably drifting toward a deeper discussion of strategy that might last 90 minutes. "I lean on him a lot," Sweeney said as the Hawks practiced indoors last week.