LAKE ELMO — In the midst of a busy stretch on and off the trails, the Stillwater girls placed second and the boys finished third in Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference 5-kilometer freestyle race at Green Acres.
The fifth-ranked Ponies scored 457 points to finish behind third-ranked Roseville (471) in the girls’ race while the Stillwater boys totaled 432 points to place behind Forest Lake (469) and Roseville (443).
“The meltdown last week really did a number on the Nordic traails all around the state,” Stillwater co-head coach Kris Hansen said. “Pretty much all the snow disappeared in the rain and what did remain turned boiler plate hard with the cold weather. We are so lucky to have access to such a nice set of trails at Green Acres. They’ve done a terrific job chopping up the ice and filling in the trails where they were getting thin. We had great conditions for the race — everyone in the conference was excited to be there.
“This is probably the toughest week fo the season,” Hansen said. “There’s always sickness floating around, we have a whole series of races and it coincides with finals at school. The athletes are balancing a lot so we try and play down the importance of the racing just a bit. This is the last hard push of racing and training before we really start focusing on conference championships and sections.”
Megan Weaver delivered the top performance for the balanced Stillwater girls’ lineup, placing sixth with a time of 14:13. Vessa Pearsall was next for the Ponies in eighth place with a time of 14:21 and teammates Cela Peterson (14:42), Haley Beech (14:46) and Shelby Ahrendt (14:59) followed in 10th, 11th and 13th. Niki Reker of Roseville placed first in a time of 13:08.
“The girls were solid today, skiing well but not out-of-their-heads well,” Hansen said. “Megan set a nice pace at the front for us and Vessa put together another nice skate race. It’s great to see both of them find some consistency. There’s lots of different types of terrain on that course adn they handled all of it well. Cela Peterson also had a nice race — she’s pushing herself a little futher every time we race, gaining confidence and experience. As soon as she realizes how strong she really is, she’s going to take a big step up in her results. Those three, along with Haley and Shelby, have been a great backbone for us all year. Like today, the five of them form a very sound foundation for the rest of the team. I’m looking forward to moving into the big races at the end of the year.”
The Ponies placed four additional skiers in the top 25, a list that includes Anya Nelson (18th, 15:38), Sofie Wicklund (21st, 15:45), Siri Brochman (22nd, 15:46) and Kristen Diederichs (25th, 15:52).
“It was nice to have nearly everyone racing the same course,” Hansen said. “Usually the race gets focused on those five or six athletes who score, but today we also got to appreciate the young talent we’ve got coming. We have a whole pack of tough and spunky junior high skiers that really showed their mettle today. There are some screaming downhills and some very tough climbs at Green Acres — those youngsters were just gutting it out, unafraid. This is going to be a fun group to watch over the next couple of years.”
Sean Bjork placed third in what was a tight battle for the top spot, which was claimed by Roseville’s Lucas Mason in a time of 11:53. Leo Hipp of Forest Lake was the runner-up at 11:56 and Bjork followed in third with a time of 12:00.
Kellen Wessels (12:23) and Paul Larson (12:42) placed seventh and 10th for the Ponies, who also featured a large pack of skiers who followed closely behind 25th-place finisher Sam Hanson (13:31).
“It was an exciting boys’ race and nice to race so close to home,” Kraftson said. “After finishing fifth overall at the Giants Ridge Invitational, our third-place finish goes to show how strong our conference is. Our top three set a great pace for us. Sean was in a tightly packed front group, just seven seconds from Lucas Mason’s winning time. Kellen was confident on his skis and is closing the gap with the top skiers. Paul appeared to be riding his skis well, but was a little off with his glide. He had a solid result, but not quite as tight with the front group as he would like to be.”
There were 13 Ponies in the 19 spots that started with Hanson in 25th place through David Holmes in 44th with a time of 14:53. Luke Richie finished 26th in 13:33 and Seth Cattanach was 29th in 13:40 while Mike Gilleo and Matt Trumper tied for 30th after finishing in 13:47. Shad Kraftson (13:48) finished 32nd while Ries Jones and Matt Fronczak tied for 33rd in 13:49. Less than a minute behind were fellow Ponies Stefan Nelson (13:53), Linder Wendt (13:59), Davis Gray (14:18) and Davis Ross (14:31).
“As a ninth-grader, Sam Hanson has been steadily stepping up his performance in recent weeks,” coach Kraftson said. “He is moving up to where we need him in order to compete with our conference adn section rivals. Luke was right on Sam’s heels and, after Luke, we had tremendous depth with a group of eight skiers within 19 seconds of each other, led by Seth Cattanach as our sixth skier. This group of athletes continue to push each otehr in practices and races to improve their performance. We are in a good and rising position as we prepare for the conference meet in two weeeks and the section meet in three weeks.”
Girls team standings
1. Roseville 471; 2. Stillwater 457; 3. White Bear Lake 440; 4. Forest Lake 403; 5. Mounds View 355; 6. East Ridge 337; 7. Woodbury 272; 8. Hastings 192; 9. Park 169.
1. Niki Reker (Ros) 13:08; 2. Rocci Wohlk (FL) 13:12; 3. Caroline Brisbois (Ros) 13:32; 4. Anna Nelson (Ros) 13:50; 5. Allison Ternes (WBL) 13:58.
6. Megan Weaver 14:13; 8. Vessa Pearsall 14:21; 10. Cela Peterson 14:42; 11. Haley Beech 14:46; 13. Shelby Ahrendt 14:59; 18. Anya Nelson 15:38; 21. Sofie Wicklund 15:45; 22. Siri Brochman 15:46; 25. Kristen Diederichs 15:52; 29. Morgan McBride 15:59; 37. Emma Rettner 16:41; 38. Clara Wicklund 16:44; 39. Sammi Potts 16:48; 42. Siri Bohacek 16:54; 45. Rana Kraftson 17:14; 56. Hannah Beech 17:53; 62. Christine Corcoran 18:16; 64. Paige Aschenbrener 18:30; Sintra Nichols 18:30; 73. Emma Anderson 18:58; 79. Carly Johnson 19:59; 82. Julia Kobilka 20:52; 85. Leah Edwards 21:02.
Boys team standings
1. Forest Lake 469; 2. Roseville 443; 3. Stillwater 432; 4, tie, White Bear Lake 386 and Mounds View 486; 6. East Ridge 339.5; 7. Woodbury 310; 8. Hastings 309.5; 9. Park 204.
1. Lucas Mason (Ros) 11:53; 2. Leo Hipp (FL) 11:56; 3. Sean Bjork (St) 12:00; 4, tie, Sam Boardman (ER) 12:07 and Jacob Jankowski (FL) 12:07.
3. Sean Bjork 12:00; 7. Kellen Wessels 12:23; 10. Paul Larson 12:42; 25. Sam Hanson 13:31; 26. Luke Richie 13:33; 29. Seth Cattanach 13:40; 30, tie, Mike Gilleo 13:47 and Matt Trumper 13:47; 32. Shad Kraftson 13:48; 33, tie, Ries Jones 13:49 and Matt Fronczak 13:49; 36. Stefan Nelson 13:53; 37. Linder Wendt 13:59; 41. Davis Gray 14:18; 43. David Ross 14:31; 44. David Holmes 14:53; 51. Quentin Ikuta 15:20; 53. Nolan Noer 15:21; 59. Josh Daum 15:28; 63, tie, Jack Lange 16:16 and John Talbot 16:16; 65. Ben Wicklund 16:26; 67. Collin Gray 16:35; 71. Quayd Korman 16:51; 72. Ethan Christensen 16:53; 75. Andrew Peterson 17:02; 82. Erik Nelson 17:22; 84. Noah Kneeskern 17:33; 88. Carl Bohacek 17:44; 89. Brian Olson 17:47; 91. John LeClair 18:03; 93. Mitch Carlson 18:42.