"Actually, I'm surprised it (the cooperative) didn't happen last year," Holter said. "We would ride-share with Carlton to meets when we couldn't get a bus and the kids got along great." Holter, who had coached Wrenshall for the previous three seasons, saw the numbers in his program rise from seven at Wrenshall to 25 in the combined team, including 10 runners in grades 7-9.
The season is underway for the Minnesota Wilderness, and while the team works the bugs out of its system, they are learning just how tough their division will be this winter. The Wilderness are 2-3-1 after the four-game NAHL Showcase to start the season and two losses at home last weekend against Aberdeen. The Friday, Sept. 28, game ended in a 4-3 shootout loss, while the Saturday, Sept. 28, game was a 5-4 setback, meaning the team got one point out of four on the weekend.
Amy Granholm's team won the match 25-20, 25-22, 25-18, but said at times, it could have gone either way. "We were two evenly matched teams," Granholm said. "If Wrenshall had won one of those sets, I think we would probably have gone to five sets overall. But I think we hustled a little more than they did and that made the difference."
It's September. Are you ready for some hockey?
Behind a powerful offense and great team speed, the Thunder didn't just beat the Minnesota College Athletic Conference's showcase team Saturday, Sept. 15, in Duluth — they overwhelmed them. The 37-17 score ran the Thunder's record to 3-0 on the season, but the team's win over their southern rival meant more than that.
The Bulldogs came out on top in three straight games by scores of 25-18, 25-16 and 25-14. Carlton (2-0) is likely to have another big season before it, while Cloquet (2-1) is learning its rotation in the early going. "Honestly, I don't think we played all that well," Carlton coach Barb Soukkala said. "They (Cloquet) blocked us a few times, made some passes, but we were able to come out on top."
"There are times when running is fun and times when it's work," Bushey said. "It's making yourself get out there and work when you don't want to that makes you improve." Tuesday's practice, which involved team members running hill drills in the rain, was a case in point. "We've got a team of great kids," Bushey said. "Just great kids. They want to work hard and today was not a good day to work." <
That isn't as big an issue in girls cross-country as it might be on the boys team. Last year, there were no seniors in the state's top 10 Class A girls and only two juniors, with three seventh-graders and an eighth-grader finishing in the top 11. That said, Esko has a road ahead if they want to reach their goals. "We're rebuilding," Hallsten said.
Cloquet volleyball coach Heidi Anderson has a problem most coaches would love to have as her team's preseason begins. She has seven seniors, all with varsity experience. That might make preparation for what's sure to be a tough 2018 campaign just a bit easier. "The kids are familiar with each other," Anderson said. "You want to play fast at this level and some teams try to play too fast. We do have the basic serving and passing to allow us to play fast and these girls have played together before."
It's not "The Legend of Bagger Vance." In a way, it's better.