LAKE ELMO — Competing in frigid temperatures on Wednesday, Jan. 23, the Stillwater girls’ Nordic ski team dealt was rewarded with a tie for first place against rival Roseville in a Suburban East Conference event at Green Acres. The 5-kilometer classic race and the pursuit finish was actually the continuation of a freestyle event from Jan. 15.
Stillwater and Roseville each finished with 466 points while White Bear Lake followed in third at 434.
“After weeks of above normal temperatures, today was a godo reminder of an old-fashioned Minnesota winter,” Ponies co-head coach Kris Hansen said. “It was cold and windy and our athletes had to find another layer or two to put on and adjust their warm-up strategy to accomodate the cold.
“I’m not disappointed tying Roseville. They had a solid lead after the freestyle races — I’m stoked that the girls could close the gap in the classic race. It will be a fun rematch at the SEC Championships next week.”
The Stillwater boys, meanwhile, scored 456 points to finish behind Forest Lake (469.5), but 3.5 points in front of Roseville (452.5).
The Raiders placed two skiers in the top three in the girls’ race with Niki Reker (28:26) and Caroline Brisbois (28:57) behind individual winner Rocci Wohlk (27:52) of Forest Lake.
Stillwater did not place any finishers among the top four, but featured five in the top 10. Vessa Pearsall placed fifth in a time of 29:48 while Megan Weaver (30:03), Shelby Ahrendt (31:23), Cela Peterson (31:29) and Haley Beech (31:37) finished seventh through 10th.
“Megan and Vessa skied together for quite a while and Shelby, Cela and Haley were pretty tight together for the whole race,” Hansen said. “Those three worked together and moved ahead of Roseville’s fourth skier and that made the difference. Anya (Nelson) and Sofie (Wicklund) were right together, too, just behind Roseville’s fifth skier. The girls get energized when they can ski together like that, pushing each other so that they can use their teammates’ strengths to fortify their own weaknesses. Technically, skiing is an individual sport, but it really feels like a team sport to me on days like today.”
Nelson (33:29) and Sofie Wicklund (33:31) finished 17th and 18th for the Ponies while Sammi Potts (34:19), Morgan McBride (34:35) and Kristen Diederichs (34:53) placed 23rd through 25th.
“The best way to describe the race today is tough,” Hansen said. “The weather was unforgiving and in your face, but that’s fitting because the pursuit start format is the same way. You know exactly where you stand every second of the race and so does everybody else. In an interval start, the story gets sorted out by the coaches comparing times afterwards, but in a pursuit start, if you cross the line first you win. If someone slips past you in the last five meters of the race, they win. Period.
“I thought the girls handled the day very well. They were literally, gritting their teeth and growling, fighting for places, fighting for time. I love to see that determination and strength reflected on the faces of these young women. We looked at the results of the skate race and decided to go after Roseville in the pursuit. They had a couple of skiers out in front, but since you need five to score, we focused on moving ahead of the third through fifth place finishers. It’s good to have a goal for youself and one that you share with your teammates.”
Each of Stillwater’s five scorers in the boys’ race maintained or improved their position going into the second leg of the pursuit wth a strong classical leg to finish strong.
Lucas Mason of Roseville was the individual winner with a time of 24:57 while Sean Bjork moved up one spot into second place to lead the Ponies with a time of 25:24. Paul Larson charged from 10th to fifth place in the pursuit, finishing with a time of 26:16, and Kellen Wessels maintained his position in seventh at 26:39. Stillwater’s remaining scorers Luke Richie (27:58) moved from 26th to 17th and Sam Hanson (28:54) went from 25th to 20th.
“As a team, we are in an exciting position going into the conference and section meets,” Kraftson said. “We are closing the gap with Forest Lake and Roseville. Each member of our team has an important role to play as we move into our conference and section meets. At the section meet (Feb. 6) four skiers count in the scoring, while at the conference meet (Friday), five skiers count in the scoring. Paul, Sean and Kellen have been performing at a high level all season. Luke has been tightening the gap throughout the season as our fourth skier. Our trio of younger skiers Seth (Cattanach), Sam and Linder (Wendt), are also rising and showing that they are each capable of contributing to our varsity scoring.”
Wendt (29:12) and Cattanach (29:30) finished 22nd and 24th while Mike Gilleo (29:36) and Matt Trumper (29:42) were close behind in 25th and 26th.
“Our boys responded very well in the classical pursuit,” Ponies co-coach Torry Kraftson said. “They stayed focused and poised in spite of the cold weather and wind chills. Those conditions put our spectators, coaches and athletes to the test.”
Girls team standings
1, tie, Stillwater 466 and Roseville 466; 3. White Bear Lake 434; 4. Forest Lake 410; 5. East Ridge 353; 6. Woodbury 329; 7. Hastings 204; 8. Park 141.
1. Rocci Wohlk (FL) 27:52; 2. Niki Reker (Ros) 28:26; 3. Caroline Brisbois (Ros) 28:57; 4. Allison Ternes (WBL) 29:16; 5. Vessa Pearsall (St) 29:48; 7. Megan Weaver (St) 30:03; 8. Shelby Ahrendt (St) 31:23; 9. Cela Peterson (St) 31:29; 10. Haley Beech (St) 31:37; 17. Anya Nelson (St) 33:29; 18. Sofie Wicklund (St) 33:31; 23. Sammi Potts (St) 34:19; 24. Morgan McBride (St) 34:35; 25. Kristen Diederichs (St) 34:53; 29. Siri Brochman (St) 35:23; 30. Clara Wicklund (St) 35:25; 33. Emma Rettner (St) 36:00; 36. Siri Bohacek (St) 37:53; 37. Hannah Beech (St) 38:11; 41. Christine Corcoran (St) 38:47; 43. Rana Kraftson (St) 40:07; 47. Paige Aschenbrener (St) 40:27; 51. Sintra Nichols (St) 41:02; 58. Emma Anderson (St) 43:09; 65. Carly Johnson (St) 46:19; 66. Leah Edwards (St) 46:54; 67. Julia Kobilka (St) 47:55.
Boys team standings
1. Forest Lake 469.5; 2. Stillwater 456; 3. Roseville 452.5; 4. White Bear Lake 398.5; 5. Hastings 345; 6. Woodbury 318; 7. East Ridge 317.5; 8. Park 252.5.
1. Lucas Mason (Ros) 24:57; 2. Sean Bjork (St) 25:24; 3. Leo Hipp (FL) 26:03; 4. Jacob Jankowski (FL) 26:09; 5. Paul Larson (St) 26:16; 7. Kellen Wessels (St) 26:39; 15. Luke Richie (St) 27:58; 20. Sam Hanson (St) 28:54; 22. Linder Wendt (St) 29:12; 24. Seth Cattanach (St) 29:30; 25. Mike Gilleo (St) 29:36; 26. Matt Trumper (St) 29:42; 30. Ries Jones (St) 30:10; 31. Davis Gray (St) 30:13; 32. David Ross (St) 30:46; 33. Stefan Nelson (St) 30:48; 34. Shad Kraftson (St) 30:56; 38. Matt Fronczak (St) 31:50; 46. David Holmes (St) 33:39; 47. Quentin Ikuta (St) 33:44; 48. Josh Daum (St) 34:06; 50. John LeClair (St) 34:37; 51. Nolan Noer (St) 34:59; 54. John Talbot (St) 36:06; 57. Jack Lange (St) 36:45; 60. Erik Nelson (St) 37:25; 61. Quayd Korman (St) 37:31; 62. Noah Kneeskern (St) 37:33; 63. Collin Grayn (St) 37:39; 64. Ben Wicklund (St) 37:48; 66. Andrew Peterson (St) 38:25; 70. Ethan Christenson (St) 39:03; 80. Carl Bohacek (St) 40:33; 81. Mitch Carlson (St) 41:01.