CLOQUET—Growing up at the Cloquet Country Club, a young and aspiring Aaron Young remembers following the final groups of the Cloquet Invitational every summer, editing the cart-ridden leaderboard with all of golf's top local names. On Sunday, it was his name on top. Young became the first CCC member since Jamie Langenbrunner in 2009 to win the 85th annual Invite, finishing with a 1-under-par 70 on his home course Sunday evening to stave off Pike Lake's Taylor Sundbom, the event's defending champion.
The Blast aren't the only county team within the league, as South Ridge, too, has a squad of a dozen girls, coached by Dick Williams and his wife, Katie. Dick noted this is his 26th season involved with youth baseball or softball and Katie has been there by his side every step of the way. Dick said their daughter, Bethany, is also on the team as the squad's catcher, while their youngest son helps coach and their oldest is an umpire. It's safe to say softball is the topic of choice at the Williams' dinner table.
Severe weather emptied that coaches’ box at Ed Mettner Field last Sunday in Cloquet, as radars littered with red led to severe tornado and thunderstorm warnings and the postponement of Esko and Cloquet's 0-0 game during the fourth inning.
“It’s almost like you have to be there to get it,” continued Wilson about the atmosphere, constantly buzzing with 32 teams within four classes on six fields. “We reached our goal. We went as far as we could have. There was nothing to be disappointed about. We may not have ended it the way we wanted to, but I mean the state tournament — it doesn’t get much better than that.”
“At the start of the year, I was just hoping to make finals, but as the year progressed, I realized I actually had a chance to do something,” Carlson told the Duluth News Tribune after falling short only to defending long jump champion Noah Carlson, of Rushford-Peterson.
"That's the type of kid you don't want up at the wrong time," Wojtysiak added to the News Tribune of Emanuel. "I just made a visit right before that and told Jake, 'Don't make a mistake to him. We're going to take our chances with the next guy if we have to.' He left a pitch over the middle and that’s what that kid will do to you."
"Like I told the girls, 'Every team that we'll face down there ties their spikes the same way we do and puts their jerseys on the same way we do,'" continued Emanuel. "You play the game and see what happens."
"They always came out and played hard for me," said Clark, in her first season coaching at her alma mater. "They're very coachable, listen well and had a great season. I couldn't have asked for a better first year coaching.”
"We're the No. 1 seed, but it doesn't matter if you're 20-0 or 0-20 [in the playoffs]," Haugen said. "Everybody starts off fresh. We just have to make sure we play it one game at a time. That's cliche, but it's true."
The Bulldogs can thank the Tigers for ending a number of those runs in years past. Cherry won a Class A state title in 2012 and has been traveling to Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minn., year-in and year-out for over the past five years. On several occasions, Carlton was in that section final.