GOLDEN VALLEY — The Stillwater boys and girls swept the top spots and also showcased their depth during Saturday’s ABC Relays at Wirth Park.
“It was a fun and successful event for our team,” Ponies co-head coach Torry Kraftson said.
Both Stillwater teams are ranked fifth in the state.
“This race is a such a nice opportunity to get away from our conference,” Ponies co-head coach Kris Hansen said. “We have a very strong group of teams in the SEC and racing against a broader section of skiers in a race like this helps us adjust our perspective. We had three of the four individual fastest splits of the day and seven top-five finishes across the boys’ and girls’ races. These results confirm that our conference is very competitive and that Stillwater boys and girls are one of hte strongest teams in the state.”
Led by Sean Bjork (8:27) with the fastest time in the classic and and Paul Larson (8:01) as the top finisher in the freestyle, the Stillwater boys posted a 14-second victory over Andover in the four-person relay. Kellen Wessels (9:38) finished third in the classic and Luke Richie (10:07) placed 42nd after taking a fall during his freestyle leg as the Ponies turned in a winning time of 36:13.
“None of the teams appeared to have great kick wax for their classical skiers, which forces the athletes to rely on upper body strength,” Kraftson said. “Sean and Kellen were able to power through the course, effectively giving them a lead after the classical portion. In the freestyle leg, Luke had a crash on an icy corner as he was lapping one of the other relay teams. The Andover and Anoka teams moved ahead of us, however, Paul had a convincing anchor leg and re-took the lead within the first kilometer. He looked comfortable and confident as he skied the fastest freestyle time of the day.”
The Stillwater girls churned out a 58-second victory over Andover, with a boost from Megan Weaver (10:04) and Shelby Ahrendt (10:14) finishing 1-2 among all classic skiers. Cela Peterson (9:27) and Haley Beech (9:42) finished fourth and fifth with their freestyle legs as the Ponies finished in a time of 39:27.
“The snow changed from somewhat slushy to hard-pack icy conditions,” Kraftson said. “Megan used powerful double pole to give her team a lead and they never looked back. Shelby managed to kick well on the icy snow and moved her team to greater advantage. Moving into the freestyle legs, the weather became more challenging with forceful winds and solid icy trails. It takes an experienced skier to skate comfortably on the ice and Cela and Haley both managed it well for our top teams’ freestyle legs. They were unchallenged by other schools and seemed to ease their way to victory.”
There were plenty of additional highlights for the Ponies, Kraftson suggested.
“The girls’ second varsity team and the top JV team were also close throughout a portion of the relay,” the coach said. “Siri Brochman and Sammi Potts worked well together in the lead-off legs, followed by the Wicklund sisters (Clara and Sofie) on the second legs. It was fun to observe all of our skiers out on the trails at the same time throughout the relay races,” Kraftson said. “We can see just how many promising young athletes we have.”
Boys team standings (top 10)
1. Stillwater A (Bjork, Wessels, Larson and Richie) 36:13; 2. Andover A 36:27; 3. Coon Rapids A 36:59; 4. Anoka A 37:00; 5. Minnetonka A 38:18; 6. Minneapolis South A 38:21; 7. St. Paul Central A 38:33; 8. Winona/Cotter A 38:41; 9. Minneapolis South B 39:13; 10. Champlin Park A 39:22; 11. Stillwater B (Hanson, Cattanach, Wendt and Gilleo) 39:38.
Individual results (top 5)
Classic — 1. Sean Bjork (St) 8:27; 2. Chris Hecker (Ano) 8:46; 3. Kellen Wessels (St) 9:38; 4, tie, Izaak Peterson (CP) 9:47 and Steven Mueggenberg (CR) 9:47; 10. Sam Hanson (St) 10:03; 29. Seth Cattanach (St) 11:00.
Freestyle — 1. Paul Larson (St) 8:01; 2. James Sebold (Min) 8:08; 3. Lucas Hieb (And) 8:18; 4. Sam Coady MS) 8:27; 5. Chris Meados (And) 8:28; 17. Linder Wendt (St) 9:04; 38. Mike Gilleo (St) 9:51; 42. Luke Richie (St) 10:07.
Girls team standings (top 10)
1. Stillwater A (Weaver, Ahrendt, Peterson and Beech) 39:27; 2. Andover A 40:25; 3. Anoka A 42:26; 4. Minnetonka A 42:52; 5. Robbinsdale Armstrong A 43:35; 6. Winona/Cotter A 43:38; 7. Coon Rapids A 44:50; 8. Stillwater B (Wicklund, Brochman, Nelson and McBride) 44:52; 9. Elk River A 45:33; 10. St. Paul Academy 46:09.
Individual results (top 5)
Classic — 1. Megan Weaver (St) 10:04; 2. Shelby Ahrendt (St) 10:14; 3. Kelsey Sather (RA) 10:29; 4. Shannon Wald (CP) 10:30; 5. Emily Delaney (RA) 10:34; 14. Sofie Wicklund (St) 11:25; 19. Siri Brochman (St) 11:51.
Freestyle — 1. Kayla Billett (Ano) 8:50; 2. Amanda Jensen (And) 9:14; 3. Maddie McKeefry (And) 9:15; 4. Cela Peterson (St) 9:27; 5. Haley Beech (St) 9:42; 13. Anya Nelson (St) 10:42; 15. Morgan McBride (St) 10:54.