p>"Watching them improve and develop each year is what you want as a coach," Klyve said. "To be able to have watched this class has been a privilege. They have risen to the occasion." "We just want to have fun, and we have fun winning," Tyler Nynas said.
Janke rushed for a career-high 334 yards and scored four touchdowns in leading the Panthers past the Huskies 39-18 at a soggy field in Culver, which was saturated from the severe storms the night before, but held up for the run-wild Janke.
"Kayla set a foundation here that is pretty incredible," Peterson said. "She's given them all great work ethic, enjoyment and it's grown from there. It gives us a head start." Suominen, just one of two seniors along with Johnson, is the head of the program. A 5-foot-8 speedster who is pursuing Division I or II swimming next fall, Suominen has placed third in the 100 freestyle the past two seasons at state, while a year after her 50 freestyle crown, she was runner-up in 2017. As humble as they come, Suominen said while titles in both events are enticing, she's working on lowering her times.
Barb Soukkala is now in her 25th season at Carlton, and despite having zero seniors on her roster, the longtime coach has nothing but experience in do-it-all juniors Alaina Bennett, Taylor Nelson, Nicole Nilsen, Bella Anderson and twins Brynne and Abby Mickle. All six have seen significant time. In fact, all six played on the Bulldogs' back-to-back state tournament softball teams in 2017 and 2018. That big-game familiarity should pay dividends for Carlton, who is seeking a state run since consecutive trips in 2013 and 2014.
It may take less than an hour to zip around Kendahl Miniature Golf course, but just chat with owner Bill Erickson and you'll hear that the memories made last forever.
Bruce Baker is a baseball junkie, but the Cloquet American Legion coach didn't hesitate when asked if he would do some fishing on Lake Vermilion this weekend.
"I was emotional — they were special," he said of Wilson, Pollema and fellow seniors Davriana Horvath and Hannah Stark. All have been around for nearly the last half-decade. "There are no words to say how they will be missed," Emanuel said. "They left a legacy of how softball should be played."
"For me, it's a dream come true," said Poppenberg, a junior who shot a 162 — good for seventh overall last week. "I don't really know how to describe it, really. Just awesome." That pretty much explains Cloquet-Esko's play all spring. Winners of several meets, including their own Cloquet Invitational, the Lumberjacks have been a force all season. <
Zdebski couldn't help but grin from ear to earn when the once Esko slapper now turned slugger sent a ball sailing over the right field fence last Friday at Braun Park, helping pace the Eskomos past Virginia 5-2 in the Section 7AA title game and back to this week's Class AA state softball tournament. "I thought it was a just a hit to right," said Zdebski, "but once I realized it went over, I just jumped and screamed."
Wide-eyed last year, but now better prepared for the big stage of Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minn., the fifth-seeded Bulldogs are eager for their state quarterfinal with No. 4 Randolph (22-1), seeking their school's best state run ever. "Last year, we were happy to be there," said senior Ally Hoeffling, "but this year, we're looking to win a state title." Carlton is scheduled to play Randolph on Thursday, June 7, at 1 p.m.