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by JAKE KACHINSKE
“The game was much closer for most of the game than the score would indicate,” said Cromwell head coach Bill Pocernich. “We got up 19-12.”
The Lions made a run at the end of the half and were up 16 at the break.
Pocernich added, “We battled early in the second half and trailed by 14 with about 14 minutes to go, when they made another run to push it up over 20. We couldn’t respond. It stayed at 20-25 for a while before they made their last run to push it over 30 with about 6 minutes left.”
In addition to (Anders) Broman‘s 49, Jonathan Hardesty was in double figures with 12 points and Bjorn Broman added 10 for the Lions. Cromwell’s offensive attack was led by Austin Pfisthner, who finished with 14 points. Tyler Hakamaki scored 12 points, while Jared Hutar added 10.
With the loss, the Cardinals also say goodbye to five seniors: Alex Hakamaki, Justin Smith, Joe Couture, Jared Hutar and Josh Oliver.
Despite ending the season, coach Pocernich was satisfied with him team’s effort. “I was really happy with how we competed.”
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
The tough season for the Cromwell Cardinal boys basketball team continued last week with a couple of defeats at the hands of Barnum and Floodwood.
Last Tuesday, 13 different players scored for Barnum as they dominated Cromwell in a 91-47 win on the road.
Jacob Naslund’s 33 points led the Bombers. That was followed up by an 11-point performance by Bobby Minkkinen. Brandon Newman added 10 for Barnum.
The Bombers raced out to a 20-point halftime lead and outscored Cromwell 46-22 in the second half. Barnum scored 17 more field goals in the victory and was at the foul line eight more times than the Cardinals.
Jake Ramberg was the leading scorer for Cromwell with 18 points. Austin Johnson had 11.
On Friday night, a back and forth first half ended with a 13-0 run for Floodwood in a 56-41 win over Cromwell. The Cardinals pulled to within 27-23 down the stretch in the first half, but couldn’t pull any closer and went to the locker room at halftime down by 17.
Cromwell outscored Floodwood (8-8) in the second half 18-16, but couldn’t close the early gap created by the Polar Bears.
Floodwood’s Ross Schminski led all scorers with 22 points. Jared Hutar (13) and Jake Ramberg (10) scored in double figures for Cromwell (3-11). Floodwood is now 5-3 in the Polar League, while Cromwell slipped to 2-8 in conference play.
BARNUM — 45-46—91
CROMWELL — 25-22—47
BARNUM — Jacob Naslund 33, Bobby Minkkinen 11, Brandon Newman 10, Danny Warpula 9, Rodney Mullin 6, Jaxon Turner 5, Sam Anderson 4, Andy Knight 3, Josh Zmyslony 3, Brandon King 2, Jake Blumer 2, Wyatt Finifrock 2, Zachary Carlson 1. FG 36, FT 12-20. TOTAL 91. 3-point goals: Newman 2, Mullin 2, Turner, Warpula, Anderson.
CROMWELL — Jake Ramberg 18, Austin Johnson 11, Jared Hutar 8, Luis Martins 4, Joe Couture 3, Josh Oliver 2, Alex Hakamaki 1. FG 19, FT 7-12. TOTAL 47. 3-point goals: Couture, Johnson.
CROMWELL — 23-18—41
FLOODWOOD — 40-16—56
CROMWELL — Jared Hutar 13, Jake Ramberg 10, Austin Johnson 7, Josh Oliver 6, Alex Hakamaki 3, Richard Olson 2. FG 14, FT 10-13. TOTAL 41. 3-point goals : Johnson 2, Hakamaki.
FLOODWOOD — Ross Schminski 22, Justin Hall 13, Riley Bernsdorf 8, Jarred Heggedahl 5, Jason Myrvold 4. Willow Christenson 4. Totals 23 8-11 56. 3-point goals: Heggedahl, Schminski.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
Carlton raced out to their only lead of the game in the opening minutes, then Cromwell stormed back and never trailed again in winning 67-62 over their Polar League opponent Thursday night.
Cromwell used a 12-0 first half run to build a 17-6 advantage, thanks to a lot of back door shots off the glass. “We worked hard as a team,” said Cromwell head coach Terry Sawdey. “We were setting screens very well and not committing many turnovers.”
The Cardinals went to the locker room at the half up by 14 at 40-26, and then built the lead to a game-high 19 points early in the second half when they took charge at 53-34.
With the big second half advantage; Cromwell was able to bring in several players off the bench down the stretch to ice the game, much like the week before against Hill City. “It was great to have all the girls step up tonight,” coach Sawdey said of the victory.
Eight different players scored for the Cardinals on Thursday against, led again by senior MaKayleigh Cahoon’s 18 points. MaKayleigh scored 12 her points in the opening half, and fouled out with four minutes to go in the game. Sophomore Allie Cahoon finished up with 14 points, with Christina Stenson added 12. Two others were near double figures in scoring in a balanced Cromwell attack. In addition to some good inside play, the Cardinals also had the outside touch, with four three-pointers in the game.
Two players scored over half of the Carlton points. Junior Brooke Camps finished with 17 points and senior Lindsey Dahl-Holm wasn’t far behind with 16. Four other players combined for the rest of the Bulldog points.
Cromwell improved to 8-6 overall and upped their conference record to 3-4, while Carlton dropped below the .500 mark at 5-6 overall and 1-4 in the Polar League.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
Wrenshall Superintendent Rick Herman came up on the losing end of a bet this past week and paid for it by wearing Cromwell Cardinal attire. Prior to the game Superintendent Herman wagered a friendly bet with Cromwell Superintendent Jennifer Backer.
According to Superintendent Herman, the bet looked like this: Whichever team won, the superintendent from the losing team had to immediately put on the other team’s jersey after the game. “One of us will then be required to make a follow-up visit to the opposing school on Monday,” said Herman. “At an assembly we will tell the student body how great their team is!”
Superintendent Herman had to do just that as the Cromwell Cardinals built a 31-point halftime lead and shut out the Wrenshall Wrens 38-0 last Wednesday on the road to cap off the regular season on a winning note. The Cardinals, in fact, go into the post-season on a two-game winning streak, thanks to their win the week before against Floodwood at home coupled with their latest win. Freshman running back Tyler Hakamaki ran for touchdowns of one and five yards, while junior quarterback Jared Hutar rushed for two touchdown runs of five yards and then a 16-yard strike to Austin Johnson for another score. The special teams unit for the Cardinals came up big again, too, as a blocked punt that sailed out of the end zone accounted for two more points in the second quarter. Cromwell finished the regular season at 3-5 and finished in seventh place in the Great Northern Conference. With the regular season a thing of the past, Cromwell focuses now on the Section 5 Nine-Man playoffs and getting an opportunity to defend its 2010 state championship as they will host Hill City at home on Tuesday night in an opening round game.
The Cardinals edged the Hornets at Hill City in week three 21-20 in overtime.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
Max Garcia blocked two punts, had an interception, and scored a touchdown (all firsts) as the Cromwell Cardinals continued their mastery of the Floodwood Polar Bears in a 22-16 victory on Friday night.
It was Garcia’s first blocked punt in the first quarter that set up the opening score for Cromwell. Jared Hutar found the end zone from seven yards out with 5:06 left in the quarter to give Cromwell the 6-0 lead. After a penalty backed the Cardinals up to the 15-yard line, the home team used a bit of trickery in faking the extra point and executing a pass from kicker Luis Martins to center Josh Oliver for the two-point conversion.
The 8-0 Cardinal lead would hold up until Floodwood’s Ross Schminski caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Bernsdorf with 3:22 left in the second quarter to pull the Polar Bears within two points. Senior running back Jordan Myles punched in the two-point conversion to tie the score at 8-8. The drive was set up by a 23-yard punt return that gave Floodwood great field position at midfield.
In the third quarter, Floodwood was driving when they coughed up the football to the Cardinals. On the very next play, Cromwell returned the favor, as Schminski returned a fumble and streaked 25 yards to the score for a Polar Bear lead. Schminski caught the two-point conversion pass and Floodwood was up 16-8.
Late in the third, Floodwood was driving for more when they had a long Jordan Myles touchdown called back on a penalty for a teammate aiding the runner, a call rarely made. After the Polar Bears turned the ball over on downs, the Cardinals drove the field and scored with .2 seconds left in the quarter on a 21-yard pass from Hutar to junior Joe Couture to give Cromwell to within two. Tyler Hakamaki, who returned to the lineup on Friday night, tied the game at 16 with the two-point conversion run.
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals would take the lead for good after Garcia’s second blocked punt set up Cromwell with a first-and-goal from the six-yard line. Garcia, a foreign exchange student from Sweden, continued his dream game when he eventually caught the game-winning touchdown just plays later on a seven-yard pass from Hutar.
The teams traded drives after that and the Cardinals were able to run the clock out in the end for their first home victory of the year and their second win overall on the season.
“I’m very happy with the win…very satisfying,” said Cromwell head coach Jeff Gronner. “We played an excellent first quarter. I thought we had too many penalties and turnovers in the second, but we’ll take it. I think a key turning point in the game was the Myles touchdown being called back,” Gronner added.
For Floodwood, it was deja vu all over again. As was the case a year ago, the Polar Bears were looking to rebound against the Cards after a disappointing loss the McGregor the week before, but couldn’t find an answer against Cromwell. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Floodwood head coach Larry Heggedahl. “We were inside the 20 three times, we fumbled, and then the penalty that called back the touchdown didn’t help.”
The loss was a missed opportunity for the Polar Bears and it put a dent in their hopes for a number two seed in the Section Nine-Man football playoffs, while Cromwell (2-5) can get the fourth seed and a home playoff game in the first round if they can win on the road at Wrenshall Wednesday.
Floodwood (4-3) will close out the regular season at home Wednesday against Isle.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
After a couple of tough losses the week before, the Cromwell volleyball team was able to get back on the winning track with a win last Tuesday at home against Moose Lake-Willow River, 3-0.
The first two games were close (25-20 and 25-23), but the Cardinals wore out the Rebels in the end by taking the third game by a 25-10 count.
After the home victory, Cromwell upped its record to 6-5 on the season and 3-4 in the Polar League. Meanwhile, Moose Lake-Willow River continued its struggling season and fell to 1-18 on the year and 0-8 in the conference. The Rebels have lost 15 straight matches. To make matters worse, the team has failed to win a set in that stretch of defeats.
In the win, Cromwell’s Brittany Johnson and MaKayleigh Cahoon combined for 12 kills, while Brianna House chipped in with 13 set assists. For Moose Lake-Willow River, Erin Mollberg had eight set assists, while Hayley Johnson added five digs.
Cromwell paid a price for their victory, however, as senior setter Marlene Wester dislocated her left arm and was heading for a prognosis this week from doctors.
After a rather light week, the Cardinal volleyball team hits the court full speed ahead this week with three matches. Opponents include East Central on the road Monday, Carlton on Tuesday and then it’s off to the North Shore for a Thursday match with Cook County.
The trip to Grand Marais this week is a reunion of sorts for Cromwell head coach Lori Wester. “Cook County is always a big rival for us,” she said. “My first teaching and coaching job was with Cook County.” Wester was Pam Taylor’s (Cook County head coach) assistant for four years. “The girls like to point out that I get very uptight whenever we play them. I guess it is my competitive nature,” said Wester.
Taylor concurred, “I think it’s harder on Lori coaching against me. She’s more competitive, but I must admit there’s a little extra incentive playing Cromwell.”
While Wester helped out on the volleyball side with Taylor for four seasons, Taylor was also able to return the favor by assisting Wester for a season on the girls’ basketball scene. But their friendship goes way beyond coaching. “Lori was my maid of honor. We continue to stay in touch, talking on the phone weekly. During volleyball season, it’s more like daily. We get together whenever possible,” said Taylor.
While it’ll be plenty competitive on the court, I’m sure there will be an ample amount catching up to do for the two close friends off the court on Thursday.
Cardinals Take Two in Two Harbors, Win Third Place
The Cromwell volleyball team traveled to Two Harbors on Saturday and brought home a third place finish after winning two of three matches.
The Cardinals took the opener against the host team, 2-1, then lost to Eveleth-Gilbert 2-0, and capped off the day with a win over Duluth Denfeld, 2-1, to win the third place crown.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
After a miserable match to start the week versus the South Ridge Panthers, the Floodwood High School volleyball team made a nice recovery. They defeated a couple of Polar League teams (Cromwell and Moose Lake/Willow River) in straight sets.
Floodwood made the short trip to Cromwell with a 3-0 win over the Cromwell Cardinals. Set one was a nail-biter, with Floodwood taking it 26-24 and set two was just as close, but once again, the Polar Bears were able to pull out a 25-22 win.
The third and decisive set had the largest margin of victory of the night, which Floodwood won 25-17.
“We had one of our better serving nights against Cromwell,” said Katy Hakala, Floodwood head coach. “In a close game, that (serving) is very important.”
Senior middle hitter Erika Scharnberg was a perfect 15-for-15 serving and had 12 digs and two blocks for Floodwood. The Polar Bears got 19 set assists from sophomore Stacey Larva. Senior outside hitter Shawna Behrendt had a balanced 10 kills and 13 digs. Also highlighting the Polar Bears’ effort was sophomore outside hitter Sydney Lough’s 12 digs.
“Both Molli (Durovec) and Shawna (Behrendt) were able to pound the ball down. Shawna, Sydney, Erika and Stacey all had great digs and passed the ball up well,” added Hakala. Durovec finished with eight kills in the match.
For Cromwell, senior setter Marlene Wester had seven digs, senior middle hitter MaKayleigh Cahoon finished with eight kills and senior setter Brianna House came away with 12 set assists. Lori Wester, Cromwell head coach, commented, “The games were close, but we made too many mistakes at crucial times.”
Coupled with the loss Tuesday was a close defeat, 3-2, on the road Thursday against Silver Bay. That brought Cromwell back to even at 5-5 on the season and 2-4 in the Polar League. The Cardinals have a match Tuesday at home against the reeling Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels.
Floodwood improved their conference mark to 4-2 after the win over Cromwell, and overall, the Polar Bears moved to 8-5.
Coach Hakala is pleased with her team’s effort the past two matches. “Both nights they played better as a team, with more communication and fired up attitudes,” she noted. “We had some excellent passes, sets and hard hits both nights. I think that we are continuing to see what works for us and improving on our overall game.”
Coach Hakala also announced that the Floodwood Volleyball team is inviting all 4th and 5th grade girls in the Floodwood School to join in a Volleyball Fun Day.
The event will be hosted by the varsity volleyball team and will take place from 3:15-6:30 p.m. on Monday, October 10.
“The evening will include fun volleyball drills and skills, along with a snack and scrimmage,” concluded Hakala. “We feel that this is a great time to get them involved in the sport, get to know the athletes and have some fun!”
FLOODWOOD def. ML/WR 3-0 (25-7, 25-22, 25-11)
FLOODWOOD — Molli Durovec (2B,11K) Sydney Lough (11D) Shawna Behrendt (6AS,9D) Stacey Larva (9D,21SA) Erika Scharnberg (9D).
FLOODWOOD def. CROMWELL 3-0 (26-24, 25-22, 25-17)
FLOODWOOD — Stacey Larva (19SA) Shawna Behrendt (13D,10K) Sydney Lough (12D) Erika Scharnberg (12D,2B). CROMWELL — Marlene Wester (7D) MaKayleigh Cahoon (6K) Brianna House (12SA).
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
Onamia junior quarterback Caleb Nieken broke free for two long touchdown runs in the first half as the visiting Panthers topped Cromwell 28-16 Friday night.
The first of Nieken’s two touchdown runs came in the first quarter from 70 yards out to put Onamia up 7-0 after the extra point. The Panthers’ Leevi Leibold would later score on a 7-yard run to put Onamia 13-0 after one quarter. Cromwell cut into the lead when junior quarterback Jared Hutar found the end zone on a 6-yard run. An Alex Hakamaki two-point conversion made it 13-8. Nieken would later score on a 64-yard run and a two-point conversion run would put Onamia up 21-8.
The game changed near the end of the first half when Onamia was driving inside the 10-yard line. Nieken sprained his ankle and would not return. Junior Zac Virnig would complete the drive with a 3-yard run to put the Panthers up 28-8, but the Cardinals answered the call with a half-minute left in the second quarter when senior Austin Johnson caught a 30-yard pass from Hutar to cut the halftime deficit to 28-16 after the two-point conversion was made.
There was no scoring in the second half.
Cromwell head coach Jeff Gronner said his team played their best game of the year, but it wasn’t enough. “We had our opportunities in the second half, but we made too many mistakes again. In the first half, we could not stop them. We forced one turnover, otherwise they scored the other four times they had the ball,” said Gronner.
Onamia’s Leibold was held to 80 yards on the ground. He had been averaging 200 yards per game coming into Friday night’s contest.
Cromwell (1-3) had their chances in the final 24 minutes.
“Offensively, we controlled the game in the second half, dominating time of possession, but turned the ball over three times in the red zone,” added Gronner.
Cromwell’s Hutar was 8 for 18 passing for 138 yards and had 21 yards rushing. Alex Hakamaki went for 103 yards on the ground. Other offensive leaders for the Cardinals included Austin Johnson’s two catches for 51 yards and junior Joe Couture had five receptions for 82 yards.
Three Cardinal players were in double digits in the tackling department. Senior Max Garcia picked up 13, freshman Tyler Hakamaki had 15 and senior Jake Ramberg added 13 tackles. Austin Johnson had two fumble recoveries.
The Cardinals will move to week five now and a game with McGregor on the road Friday night. It is a pivotal Great Northern conference game and re-match of last year’s Section Five championship in which Cronwell shut out the Mercs 21-0. Onamia (4-0) is back home this Friday night to face the Northland Eagles.
BY JAKE KACHINSKE
BARNUM –Josh Hogan drained 21 points, guiding the Barnum Bombers to a 52-35 opening round boys basketball win over the Cromwell Cardinals in Section 5A Thursday night.
“I felt if we could take care of the ball and shoot well, we would have a chance to win,” said Cromwell head coach Bill Pocernich. The Cardinals shot 28% from the field and committed 21 turnovers. Despite the dismal shooting performance and the turnovers, Cromwell trailed by only five at the half, 24-19, and was within 28-26 with twelve minutes to go in the game. Seven minutes later the deficit was twenty at 50-30.
Pocernich added. “That has happened to us against the really good teams this year, where we go 5-8 minute stretches where we don’t score and turn the ball over and that’s what happened to us tonight.”
In addition to Hogan’s 21 points, Justin Newman was in double figures for Barnum (21-6) with 12 points. Jacob Naslund added nine.
Nic Cahoon, who scored 10 on the night, led Cromwell. Barnum’s defense kept the Cardinals’ five other scorers were under double-figures. “I was proud of the effort and thought we defended well. We got beat by a better team,” Pocernich commented.
As for the season, the Cardinals finished 11-15 overall and a tie for fifth place in the Polar League with a 7-9 mark. Pocernich said it was definitely a tough season…the team set a goal to win ten games, and they ended up winning eleven. “In the final 13 regular season games, we went 7-6, with the six losses coming to teams with a combined record of 138-25, so we played much better down the stretch,” he said.
Pocernich went on to say that seniors were a great group of kids. “They helped pick the team up when we were struggling, and all five (Nic Cahoon, Jordan Suhonen, Mike Hedin, Pat Dahl and Tyler Sulkowski) have been great to coach.”
Coach Pocernich is also looking forward to next season. “I like the players we have coming back. If they commit themselves to improving their skill level in the off-season, we have a chance to have a very good team next year.”
BARNUM — 24-28 — 52
CROMWELL — 19-16 — 35
BARNUM — Brandon Newman 2, Josh Hogan 21, Daniel Warpula 3, Justin Newman 12, Jacob Naslund 9, Luke Chalberg 1, Andrew Youngren 4. FG 20, FT 10-18. TOTAL 52. 3-point goals: Hogan, Naslund.
CROMWELL — Nic Cahoon 10, Jordan Suhonen 2, Jared Hutar 7, Michael Hedin 6, Patrick Dahl 6, Jake Ramberg 4. FG 13, FT 6-11. TOTAL 35. 3-point goals: Hutar, Hedin, Dahl.
BY JAKE KACHINSKI
A Cromwell teacher and coaching great, whose tenure there spilled into four decades, is being remembered as a good coach and even better man.
Robert “Bob” Mancuso of Cloquet and formerly of Cromwell and Duluth, passed away at the age of 78 on January 22. Born on July 19, 1932, Mancuso graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1950. He was a star athlete, garnering the Bill Stern Award as Duluth’s “Athlete of the Year” for 1949-50, and received “All-State” honors in football in 1949. He would go on to become a four-year starting guard for the St. Thomas football team, where he graduated with a B.S. in Education.
His teaching career was mostly spent in Cromwell, where he taught Social Studies, Geography, History, Health and Physical Education. Oscar Eliason, who arrived in Cromwell in 1962 remembers, “Our families were similar in age. Our kids grew up together. After Friday night (football) games, we would get together a lot.”
Eliason taught science at Cromwell until his retirement in 1996. He also assisted Mancuso in football and boys basketball. Eliason has fond memories of the 1971 Polar League football title Cromwell won, but says Mancuso had many great teams that produced a lot of great rivalries. Eliason especially remembers a moment during the 1985-86 winter sports season. “I was coaching the girls basketball team and we had made it to the state tournament and Bob ruptured his aorta in December of ’85 and had been out of school for several months. We were coming out of the lockerroom for warm-ups before our first game in Minneapolis, and there was Bob. Nothing was going to stop him from being there.”
Mancuso coached football at Cromwell from 1956-79, track from 1956-83, basketball from 1956-61 and baseball from 1956-58. He was athletic director at the school from 1956 until his retirement in 1987.
Aside from coaching and teaching, Mancuso enjoyed fishing, deer hunting, woodworking and “tinkering” on cars.
Bill Hoppe, who lives in Cloquet, also taught and coached during Mancuso’s time in Cromwell and had nothing but compliments for his fellow teacher and coach. “He was a great man. He had a great personality and the kids he coached loved him,” said Hoppe. “He had an even temperament about him and handled the kids well. He wouldn’t blow up at them.”
Hoppe coached boy’s basketball, baseball and softball during his time in Cromwell between 1964 and 1997.
Mancuso’s mobility became an issue in the end, but Elisaon remembers a time about 7 or 8 years ago in Barnum at the Polar League track meet. “To get to their track, you have to go down this big hill, and Bob was in a wheelchair and I wondered how we were going to get down the hill to the track and eventually back up again. Somehow we found a different way to get to the track from the top, but that was his determination. It says a lot about who he was. He never missed a Polar League track meet.”
Even with failing health, Mancuso did get the luxury of getting to a television back in November so he could watch the football team he coached for 23 years capture the nine-man championship, when Cromwell outlasted Lanesboro 49-42.
Mancuso leaves behind his wife of 57 years, JoAnn, three sons, four daughters, 14 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, two sisters and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services were Friday, January 28 in Cloquet.