Warm weather shines on Cloquet quad

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For her last several track meets this spring, Kelly Lorenz has dressed for winter-like conditions, the Cloquet sophomore wearing black long sleeves, tights and covered from head to toe.

Tuesday, however, in the Lumberjacks' first home event at a beautifully sunny Bromberg Field, Lorenz traded in her cold-weathered gear for a summer tank and maybe even sunscreen.

"It has been so cold," recalled Lorenz of our recent freezing rain and snow-flurried weather. "It was awesome just to go out there and run without any warm clothing on. It was a really good night — perfect for running a track meet."

Lorenz, a 5-foot-5 do-it-all athlete, was near perfection herself, as she sprinted her way to titles in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and helped the 1,600-meter relay team to victory during the Lake Superior Conference quadrangular. She also competes in the triple jump.

"Your legs are a little sore and sometimes you can't feel them afterward," admitted Lorenz of going from each event to the next. "But I wouldn't want it any other way. I love doing four different things every meet."

Such is the case for many of Cloquet's athletes. Head coach Tim Prosen said Tuesday's quad was a great chance to move kids around and see where they best fit before being their best at next week's Section 7AA True Team meet, followed by the LSC Championships a week later.

That said, the results — his Lumberjack boys winning and girls placing second — weren't the focal point Tuesday. The goal was to get all of his kids into a variety of events. Hermantown, Superior and Proctor were also participants Tuesday.

"Our coaches did well and got a lot of kids in. We got a chance to actually see what we have," Prosen said. "And the good thing is, we have a lot of options, too."

That may be the understatement of the spring. Prosen's numbers have steadily increased over time. This year, he said he has his largest team ever.

In fact, his participation has again eclipsed the triple digit marks. Track team members have to travel in two buses to road meets and, in doing so, take almost one-quarter of the school's 572-student enrollment with them.

"We put quite the dent into the school attendance," said Prosen, an economics teacher at the high school. So much so that the school play is skipping the Friday night performance in favor of a Sunday matinee because so many of the actors had a track meet.

Lorenz noted on their way to their meet in Cambridge earlier this spring that both buses were packed.

"We we were crammed together with our backpacks on our knees and in the aisles," she recalled.

It's a good problem to have, noted Prosen. He added that along with hard-working kids who all want to be there, his long list of assistants are always there to help better then program. And Prosen trusts them through and through on making decisions, event lineups and even preparing Bromberg Field.

Tuesday, jumping coach Tim Anderson perfected the high jump area, while throwing coach Andy Elias groomed and readied the discus and shot put area in the nearby softball field.

"I have a really good group of coaches," Prosen said. "They did a lot today, but also for our future, too."

As for Evan Erickson's future, well, that looks bright. The Lumberjack senior will throw collegiately at the University of North Dakota next year. The muscular stalwart signed a national letter of intent with the Division-I Fighting Hawks last November.

Erickson has been tossing both the discus and shot put since his middle school days. As a freshman, he advanced to the state finals in the disc; a year later he took third and last season, he came in fourth in the event.

Erickson, who also broke his own school record already this spring with a Herculean heave of 175 feet-4 inches in Cambridge, simply has one goal on his mind.

"This year I want to try and win it," he said of the state championship. "I've always been competitive and I'm always trying to get better. If I were to do it, it would just be unforgettable."

Although his school record is official, Erickson has chucked the discus into the upper 180-foot range at practices, he said. He's been known to overthrow painted areas at meets, having thrown the small object into nearby weeds, creeks and more.

At practice once, Erickson said he hit second base from the outfield. That's almost 190 feet. He said a toss like that, and then some, will be needed to be crowned the Class AA state champ come June.

Tuesday, Erickson won both the discus and shot.

Sophomore Kendra Kelley claimed the 100 dash, long jump and helped the 1,600 relay win. Erin Turner and Lauren Cawcutt also helped two relays to victory and Conner Denman won the 800, 1,600 and aided the winning 1,600 boys relay team.

Officially, the Cloquet boys claimed Tuesday's title with 124 points, while the girls' 90.5 points were only behind Hermantown's 97.5. That bodes well for next week's True Team, which the boys won last year. Each team also swept the conference crowns a spring ago.

"And we'll contend again," said Prosen.

In addition, Kelley is also the school record holder in the 200, posting a blazing time of 25.25 seconds to break the mark she set last year at the state meet. Denman has also been clocked in 1 minute, 58.8 seconds for the 800 this year, which is far from slow.

Still, times and results aside, Prosen simply prepares his large team each and every day to get better and enjoy it while doing so. He changes things up with different practice events, combine structures and even awards socks, shorts, T-shirts and flannel shirts for achieved success, Lorenz noted.

"There's never a dull day at track," Lorenz added. "Everyone is just super positive. It's just a really good environment."

And even better when you can ditch the winter clothes for an evening.