Oil refinery explosion felt halfway to Two Harbors

John Gilbert

Thick plumes of black smoke were easily visible over the left-field fence at Wade Stadium following the explosions at Husky Refinery in Superior. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Thick plumes of black smoke were easily visible over the left-field fence at Wade Stadium following the explosions at Husky Refinery in Superior. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Winona’s Nicolas Herold pitched to UMD’s Alex Welder at Wade Stadium last Thursday. UMD lost both games of the doubleheader. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Winona’s Nicolas Herold pitched to UMD’s Alex Welder at Wade Stadium last Thursday. UMD lost both games of the doubleheader. Photo credit: John Gilbert

My plan was pretty simple last Thursday morning. I was sitting at home, just about ready to depart from our home, a couple miles up on the ridge above Lake Superior, to catch an NSIC baseball doubleheader between Minnesota Duluth and Winona State, out at Wade Stadium.
I was sipping at my last few sips of Dunn Brothers coffee, savoring the time for great coffee; we alternate between Dunn Brothers and Duluth Coffee for our home brew. Right then, I heard a muffled “boom,” and the house shuddered a bit. My first thought was that something exploded, gently, downstairs, but when I went down to look, everything was in order. I checked our neighbor’s place, too, but all was in order.

I went back inside to hear a news bulletin about an explosion at what turned out to be the Murphy Oil refinery in Superior, and emergency crews were fighting to contain the follow-up fire. Now, I heard later that homes in the immediate area heard and felt the explosion, but our home is 10 miles from downtown Duluth, and close to 20 from the refinery. We do live on that wonderful North Shore ledge rock, however, and I know loud sounds carry well across water. But it was quite amazing to hear and feel that thump so far away. When I got out to Wade Stadium, the radio kept reporting that the fire was out and all should be OK, with a dozen or so people from the refinery taken to hospitals.

Obviously, by simply looking out over the left-field wall at Wade, the plume of black smoke was heavier than it was, and getting heavier. If there was a fire, it certainly was not extinguished. The Bulldogs lost both games, 4-2 and 9-5, with Nicolas Herold squelching UMD’s hitters in a complete first game.

But those plumes of smoke were constant reminders that we all enjoy sports, but there are things that command the realm of what is truly important in our lives.

Justin Wieck addressed the Duluth media on Tuesday afternoon as he was introduced as UMD’s new basketball coach in a press conference at Malosky Stadium. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Justin Wieck addressed the Duluth media on Tuesday afternoon as he was introduced as UMD’s new basketball coach in a press conference at Malosky Stadium. Photo credit: John Gilbert

UMD Names Wieck as Basketball Coach

Justin Wieck, a 33-year-old who got acquainted with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference by spending his last four years as an assistant coach at Minnesota State - Moorhead, will now get a chance to be head coach in charge of leading UMD back to men’s basketball contention.
Wieck, who played Division I basketball at Iowa, is from North Liberty, Iowa, and he and his wife, Laura, have two children, son Jordy, 6, and daughter Anya, 4.
He stressed how impressed he was with the city of Duluth, the UMD campus, the coaching staff, the people he’s met, and is looking forward to returning the Bulldogs to NSIC contention.
“Seeing the renovation going on to Romano gym, and realizing the strong alumni base, it’s evident how hungry they are for us to be successful,” Wieck said. “My plan is to focus on Minnesota and Wisconsin kids, and I plan to play an aggressive offensive style.
“We will get up and down the floor and be fast, but responsible. I plan to have four guys who are 40-percent shooters from outside, and we’ll be aggressive. Defensively, we’re pretty vanilla. Playing good defense requires toughness, while our offensive plans might be more subtle.”
UMD has had men’s basketball for 88 years, and Wieck becomes the 17th coach in that time frame. He is only the fourth since the 1984-85 season, however. Wieck replaces Matt Bowen, who spent five seasons unable to reproduce the strong success he’d had as head coach at Bemidji State, and was relieved of his command by athletic director Josh Berlo.

In another UMD coaching move this week, former Bulldog women’s hockey star Ashleigh Brykaliuk is returning to Duluth as assistant coach to women’s coach Maura Crowell. Brykaliuk and Lara Stalder were UMD’s primary offensive catalysts, and she served as captain both her junior and senior years.