A 4-2 elimination round win over eighth-seed Hibbing kept the season alive but had Tondryk shaking his head. “Hibbing was the kind of game where you need to get off the field after five innings (winning by the 10-run rule) and we didn’t do that,” he said. “We were tired for the third game.”
Seniors Josh Keith and Lucas Tomhave were the other Lumberjacks team in the doubles event and nearly pulled off a first-round upset as the 11th seeds. They took seniors Jack Kronzer and Yusuf Khwaja of Marshall to three sets before losing 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 4-6.
“This is a chance for us to get back on track and build for the playoffs,” Haugen said. “We need to pick up a couple of wins and the thing of it is, success is contagious. If we get that big hit it can snowball.”
“We hung with them for a few innings but they are a very good team,” he said. “They have to be the section favorite.”
For the second consecutive year, the Lumberjacks lost to Hibbing-Chisholm in the Section 7A championship match Saturday afternoon, falling 6-1 in Hibbing. “I feel bad for the kids,” coach Derek Johnson said. “It was disappointing for them and disappointing for all of us.”
“We always talk about how you will get better playing in the summer. We’ve said that for many years,” he said. “If you don’t play in the summer, you lose a little bit of your edge.
The Eskomos are still fairly young. Five sophomores start for the team. “Right now we have five contributing and four more who could play but for older players,” Haugen said “We have lots of talent at the sophomore level. They are doing big things — playing key positions, pitching and hitting in the middle of the order.”
“We get such great leadership from our seniors,” Johnson added. “We are playing very well as a team now and everybody is locked in.” Perhaps no one is more “locked in” than senior Robbie Sobczak, who was named the school’s male Athlete of the Year after winning nine letters this school year — only five coming in sports.
Arreola was born in Juarez City, Mexico, and came to the United States at age 13. His mother remarried, moved to Cloquet and, once the paperwork was completed, eventually brought Oscar along. But once he arrived in America, young Oscar found the going tough. “I was always getting in trouble and getting in fights after I came here,” Arreola said. “There was a lot of racist stuff that got to me. But my uncle was always interested in boxing and Oscar de la Hoya was one of my idols because we had the same first name and I liked boxing too. Then someone said I should come to the gym. It gave me an outlet.”
“We had a string of bad weather,” Puccio said. “So to go out there when we had never played together as a team before outdoors and win made it really fun. “They looked like a team that was ready to play,” he added. “What was surprising was not that they won, but rather how they did it.”