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Play lacrosse, will travel

Two Carlton County athletes recently learned a bit about life at the elite level of high school lacrosse at a tournament in California. Cooper Ketola, who is a junior at Cloquet High School, joined Keijo Day, a senior at Carlton High School, on t...

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Two Carlton County athletes recently learned a bit about life at the elite level of high school lacrosse at a tournament in California.

Cooper Ketola, who is a junior at Cloquet High School, joined Keijo Day, a senior at Carlton High School, on the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Chill at a tournament played in Torrey Pines, Calif., earlier this month. And, it was an education.

“We didn’t win a game,” Ketola said. “But it was fun, seeing where players are at skill-wise. I’ve played against a lot of Minnesota kids so it was cool to see the competition.”

“Whenever you play against super-high caliber teams, when you play someone better than you, it makes you better,” Day said. “You get better and at a tournament like this, you can get college looks.”

Ketola and Day, who are both attackers, are the only outstate players on the Chill’s senior roster. They travel two hours, one-way, each weekend to practice at Concordia St. Paul’s SeaFoam Stadium - home to the school’s football team but which is housed under a bubble each winter, providing ideal practice conditions.

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That is a significant commitment, which tells on families as well as on the players.

“It’s hard, there’s a financial commitment to it, and they have to be willing to make that drive every Saturday,” said Ketola’s mother, Lauri. “But Keijo and Cooper travel together; there are two of them going every week and that makes it easier.”

But the tournaments … well, those can be an experience.

“They scrimmaged a team from Japan the first day they were out there,” Lauri said. “But then they were put in the elite division and most of the people they played against were Division I commits so things didn’t go so well.”

For their part, the players took it well.

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