If you watched Cloquet’s fall teams in the playoffs, the chances are very strong that there was a smile on your face, even as the final results were just a bit disappointing. Girls tennis and football are building, with both those teams just a year removed from great seasons.
But if you look at some of the other programs, there’s plenty to smile about.
Let’s start with the soccer teams, both of which made deep playoff runs.
On the girls side, coach Dustin Randall graduates six seniors from a team that went 15-3-1 this fall and lost 1-0 to Hermantown in the section semifinals.
Prior to that time, they had scored a mighty 13 goals in their first two section playoff matchups and boast eight juniors and three sophomores to keep the progress going next fall.
The boys’ future is just as bright. Coach Archie Clark had a very talented team which he noted could have “walked to state” in just about any other year, but for the superteam fielded by Hermantown, which beat them 2-1 in the section final.
However, Clark noted that his underclass has potential to become a “superclass” of its own. A Hermantown program that graduates a dozen seniors might well be easier to haul back next season, but Clark is as excited about his underclass as he’s ever been.
Then there’s volleyball, which has reached the section semifinals in seven of the last eight seasons. Coach Heidi Anderson teaches her players not just about volleyball but about life, and there’s every reason to believe the machine she has built in that sport will continue to progress. This year’s team fell to Greenway in the semifinals.
And then there is the swim program, which has been revitalized by four top performers and a host of younger girls who are very keen to grow the team.
Freshman phenom Makayla Suominen is a legitimate threat for two medals at this week’s state swim meet in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
I’ve lost track of the school and pool records Suominen has set around the area — though I’m sure coach Kayla Cresap has a complete list — but her teammates Faith Carlson, Greta Moores and Rachel Gorski are right behind Suominen in terms of their progress.
Carlson, a junior, also qualified in the 50 freestyle and in the 100 butterfly, with two relay teams comprised of the four swimmers also reaching state.
This team graduates only four seniors, with Moores and Gorski both sophomores, Carlson a junior and Suominen a freshman. This year’s Cloquet Middle School class is also close to 200 students, which would make it one of the largest Cloquet graduating classes in recent memory in four years’ time.
While it’s true that Hermantown had a remarkable fall season, Cloquet is well-suited to challenge — and keep challenging — for years to come.
You might as well get used to it.