“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.”
On Friday night, Brett Heikkila ended a nearly four-hour long marathon with a goal at 17:40 of the second overtime to give the Wilderness a must-have, 2-1 win in Game Three before a crowd of 1,752 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. “That game really showed our work ethic,” Millen said. “It showed a lot of character and took a lot of work to win that game.”
The 4x800 relay team of three freshman — Elise Pickar, Payton Schneberger, and Mackenzie Brummer — with junior Marie Osuna won easily, with freshman Kelly Lorenz taking the 100 hurdles and freshman Kendra Kelley winning the 100- and 200-yard dashes to earn a double.
Robbie Sobczak set the tone at first singles by dismissing Hibbing hockey ace Scott Perunovich by 6-2, 6-1. Joey Gotchnik won in three sets at third singles and Anders Pertler defeated Ryan Osborne 6-0, 6-2 at fourth singles for the third team point.
“We did show that we can play with them and can stand up to them,” he said. “We didn’t get the results but we do know we can play well.”
“We figured we would get some pushback from them (Janesville) because this was a game they had to have,” Millen said. “But we were really hoping they wouldn’t score in the first minute.”
“These girls are going to make a statement as far as Barnum track and field goes,” LaFave added. “It’s really fun watching them now, but it’s going to be even more fun watching some of these kids grow into their competition.”
“We couldn’t get out of the inning,” Esko coach Jeff Emanuel said. “We definitely gift-wrapped some runs for them, which we need to clean up. We talked before the game that we can’t give good teams extra outs and that’s what we did, period.”
Meanwhile the boys team will attempt to regain the Polar League championship it won in 2014 but lost last year, with a deep and talented roster. Junior Sam Coil was fifth in the state in the shot put last spring, throwing 50 feet 10 inches, and is already just three inches short of his state throw in early meets. “He’s off to a great start,” Andres said. “He is in mid-season form and he’s throwing the discus about 140 feet already too and looking to add about 20 feet to that as the year progresses.
Janis Jaks opened the scoring midway through the first period for the Wilderness. After Dawson DiPietro tied the game for the Jets midway through the second, Casey Gilling’s goal at 14:54 of the second period closed out the scoring. Kania stopped 17 of 18 shots in the Wilderness goal and the series headed to Cloquet tied at a game apiece.