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Elk River's Joe Nordstrom tops Athletes of the Week for Sept. 2-7

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 09/09/19, 3:45PM CDT


Also recognized: Nicole Copeland (Edina), Kira Falkert (Concordia Academy), Sami Hilley (Champlin Park), Jacob Keller (Monticello), Jonathan Kieren (St. Anthony) and Boston Merila (St. Michael-Albertville).

Elk River running back Joe Nordstrom breaks free during the Elks' 46-37 victory over Buffalo on Friday. Photo: Jake Anderson, Elk River Star News

Elk River • football

One year ago, Nordstrom was in street clothes on the Elk River sideline, waylaid by the recurrence of a childhood condition characterized by low levels of platelets in his blood that can cause excessive bruising and bleeding.

On Friday, the 5-11, 200-pound senior running was back doing was he does best: Running past, and occasionally over, opposing defenses. He rushed 21 times for 329 yards and scored on runs of 80, 79, 34 and 6 yards as the Elks outlasted Buffalo 46-37.

“It was pretty tough to watch last year, with all your buddies out there,” Nordstrom said. “I just had to remember the blessings I had and keep fighting.”

Three of Nordstrom’s touchdowns came in the second half when the Elks were clinging to razor-thin leads. They would not have happened, he said, without the Elks’ precision blocking and deft fakes, two hallmarks of their offense.

“You can’t have 80-yard runs without great blocking and fakes,” he said.

After a season away, Nordstrom said he has a renewed fondness for the game.

“When you love sports as much as I do, you can take it for granted,” he said. “I think now, I do appreciate it a little bit more.”

Edina • tennis

Copeland, the two-time defending Class 2A champ, remained undefeated with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Minnetonka’s Sarah Shahbaz as the Hornets defeated the Skippers 4-3 in the finals of the Edina Invitational. “Minnetonka is our biggest competition this year, so I’m super happy,” she said.

Concordia Academy • volleyball

The Beacons had a 6-0 week, highlighted by winning the Apple Valley Aerie Challenge, defeating Centennial in the final. The junior outside hitter led their offensive effort with 66 total kills with a .398 hitting percentage. She had 17 ace serves and added 54 digs.

Champlin Park • volleyball

The senior hitter/setter combo has come out from the shadow of her older sister Sydney to become a force in her own right. In seven matches, the versatile Hilley had 75 kills while hitting at a .495 clip. She added 115 set assists, 34 digs, six blocks and eight ace serves.

Monticello • soccer

In three road games last week, the senior attacker and team captain scored seven goals and had an assist as the Magic went 3-0. He scored two goals apiece in victories over Orono and Chisago Lakes, and had a hat trick and an assist in a 4-2 victory over Mound Westonka.

St. Anthony • football

The senior running back has put up back-to-back 200-yard rushing games. He ran for 205 yards in a 49-27 victory over Bloomington Kennedy and had 237 yards in a 45-20 rout of Providence Academy. He scored three touchdowns in each game.

St. Michael-Albertville • football

The senior linebacker and team-leading tackler a year ago has picked up where he left off last season. Merila made 16 tackles and intercepted two passes in a 21-14 victory at Minnetonka. He also is a standout baseball player.

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