"I think it'll be a good game with two good teams on the field, and I feel like if my girls are all on at the same time we can take a good run at them." The best news for Carlton is that their team has no seniors, which means the future is bright. "We're young and that is a good and bad thing," Clark said. "Our kids need to realize that Cherry is good, but once the game starts they are a team just like any other team. Cherry can't win just by showing up. They'll have to beat us and our confidence is high after three wins Tuesday. I hope we can keep it rolling through Thursday."
> The Eskomos (21-2) will face Virginia (15-7) at 4 p.m. today (Thursday, June 1) in Grand Rapids, with the Eskomos undefeated in the double-elimination event. The Blue Devils will need two wins to advance, with a second game scheduled immediately after the first if Virginia wins. Esko, which had a 14-game winning streak snapped May 19 by Jackson County Central, knocked off Virginia 6-3 in Grand Rapids Tuesday. Ashley Pollema paced Esko with a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
Two Cloquet boys tennis players have reached the last four of the Section 7A singles tournament — and might well play each other at some point during Thursday's semifinals and finals. Fifth-seed Dan Stevens and third-seed Peter Tomhave both won a pair of matches at Longview Tennis Club in Duluth on Tuesday to reach the semifinals. "They both played well," coach Derek Johnson said. "They both have winnable matches in the semis too and if things bounce right it could be a special day."
> "We like to try to be three deep at every event," Prosen said. "That depth is important and you saw it there." Prosen also had kind words for Denman. "I don't know if I've seen anyone more dedicated to running than Conner," he said. "He is going to LaCrosse next year and they have a great program. He will fit in very well there." <
> Like Horbacz, Carlson said keeping his players engaged and interested is important. "We want players who are going to go out in the summer and keep playing and improve," he said. "We think that over time we will have a few good players come out of this group and that will help." The boys team is arguably closer to success than the girls are, but both teams are making progress. "We do think that next season if we keep improving, we can challenge at a conference level and have golfers who can make some noise at sections," Horbacz said. "It's in them, they just have to keep improving." Carlson is happy with the interest being shown in the game in the cooperative team's communities. "We have kids who want to play," he said. "They enjoy the game and we are optimistic for the future."
That said, Johnson believes there's reason for optimism. "There's no reason we can't make some noise," he said. "If we do those small things we need to do there isn't any reason we can't win Thursday and get to Saturday." Saturday's section semifinals and finals are scheduled to be played in Hibbing, with the individual tournament to be played next week. "We haven't made any decisions on who will play in the individual tournament," Johnson said. "We're going to wait to see how things shake out in the team tournament first."
The Barnum boys and Moose Lake-Willow River girls successfully defended their team championships. On the boys side, Barnum's team score of 164 was 11 strokes better than the Rebels, with Two Harbors unable to post a team score due to lack of players.
But Esko's traditional strength has been in the relays and they didn't disappoint on Saturday, winning three of the four races to put the team over the top. The 4x100 team (44.71 seconds), 4x400 (3:40.26) and 4x800 (8:37.18) all won, with the 4x200 team (1:37.30) taking third place. <
"That was hard," Tondryk said. "They just ended the second game and moved on to keep everything on track." Harder still for Tondryk was seven Cloquet errors in the Simley game. "We didn't execute defensively and gave up quite a few unearned runs," he said. "It's hard to win a game when you make two errors, much less seven."
> "It wasn't in the cards," coach Tim Madsen said. "We emptied the tank but we saw one of the best goaltending performances I've seen in 10 years. We just couldn't get that goal."