TAYLORS FALLS — The Stillwater boys’ and girls’ alpine ski teams are starting right where they picked off a year ago while posting victories in Tuesday’s season-opening Suburban East Conference meet at Wild Mountain.
Both teams won conference titles a year ago and have moved quickly to the forefront again this season.
The Stillwater boys placed nine skiers in the top 18 to total 740 points and easily hold off runner-up Forest Lake (663) and third-place East Ridge (554). It was a much tighter battle in the girls’ competition, but the Ponies used their depth to overtake Mounds View’s strength at the top. The Mustangs featured each of the top three finishers, but Stillwater managed to prevail 685-667 with Hastings (596) and East Ridge (587) trailing in the third and fourth spots.
“The first race of the season is always a learning experience solving all the glitches that seem to happen, but all in all, it was a great race for the athletes,” Stillwater coach Mary Parcheta said. “They did exceptionally well, some awesome racers.”
Westin Anderson (1:05.95) and Kyle Szczepanski (1:06.69) placed third and fifth to set the pace for the Ponies, but they had plenty of company near the top. Keilan O’Brien of Cretin-Derham Hall posted the fastest time at 1:03.47, which was more than a second in front of Forest Lake’s Riley Schilling (1:04.82).
Matt Ludack (1:08.14), Zach Raven (1:08.68) and Corey Carlsen (1:08.70) finished seventh through ninth for the Ponies while Brent Barclay (1:08.80), Patrick Allan (1:09.06) and Sam Skaret (1:09.42) placed 11th, 12th and 13th.
Stillwater’s top eight skiers were separated by less than three-and-a-half seconds.
Nick Skaret followed in 18th for the Ponies with a time of 1:12.22.
The Stillwater girls were unable to match Mounds View’s top three of Julia Damberg (53.04), Emily Nash (53.94) and Sarah Mackay (55.07), but placed three in the top nine and five in the top 20.
Stillwater’s Story Schwantes placed fourth in a time of 55.1 while Maddie Neubauer (56.51) and Rachel Amos (57.1) placed sixth and ninth. Natalie Gjermo (57.67) and Claire Weber (59.78) followed in 13th and 20th with Emily Donner one spot back in 21st place with a time of 59.8.
Maggie Raedeke, Ashley Ludack and Hanna Gaertner also finished in the top 30 for the Ponies while Cindy Prentice finished 34th.
Parcheta was pleased with the effort, but knows it won’t be easy going forward.
“I hope we can step it up a notch as we go along with our other four races,” Parcheta said.
After competing in the Wild Mountain Invitational on Dec. 20, the Ponies will host another conference meet at Afton Alps on Jan. 2.
“This will be another challenge for racers, some coming off Christmas break and others in the conference not back in school yet,” Parcheta said. “Since our season is so short and we need to deal with weather issues, we need to go forward with the schedule as planned.”
n Stillwater also dominated the boys’ JV competition on Tuesday while sweeping the top seven spots, led by Karl Gaertner, Trevor Witt and Kieran Downs in the top three places. The Stillwater girls featured three of the top four finishers in the JV competition with Ellie Messelt, Neala Chevalier and Alydia Downs in second, third and fourth place.
Boys team standings
1. Stillwater 740; 2. Forest Lake 663; 3. East Ridge 554; 4. Mounds View 504; 5. Woodbury 497; 6. Hastings 452; 7. Cretin-Derham Hall 332; 8. White Bear Lake 319; 9. Roseville 267; 10. Park 202.
1. Keilan O’Brien (C-DH) 1:03.47; 2. Riley Schilling (FL) 1:04.82; 3. Westin Anderson (St) 1:05.95; 4. Jack Midtlien (WBL) 1:06.19; 5. Kyle Szczepanski (St) 1:06.69.
3. Westin Anderson 32.65-33.3—1:05.95; 5. Kyle Szczepanski 33.38-33.31—1:06.69; 7. Matt Ludack 33.89-34.25—1:08.14; 8. Zach Raven 34.1-34.58—1:08.68; 9. Cory Carlsen 34.02-34.68—1:08.70; 11. Brent Barclay 34.06-34.74—1:08.80; 12. Patrick Allan 34.37-34.69—1:09.06; 13. Sam Skaret 34.43-35.0—1:09.42; 18. Nick Skaret 36.37-35.85—1:12.22; 38. Joe Weber 38.77-39:64—1:18.41.
Girls team standings
1. Stillwater 685; 2. Mounds View 667; 3. Hastings 596; 4. East Ridge 587; 5. Forest Lake 561; 6. White Bear Lake 402; 7. Roseville 301; 8. Woodbury 287; 9. Park 154; 10. Cretin-Derham Hall 149.
1. Julia Damberg (MV) 53.04; 2. Emily Nash (MV) 53.94; 3. Sarah Mackay (MV) 55.07; 4. Story Schwantes (St) 55.1; 5. Gabriella Sorg (Has) 55.91.
4. Story Schwantes 27.36-27.74—55.1; 6. Maddie Neubauer 28.71-27.8—56.51; 9. Rachel Amos 29.43-27.67—57.1; 13. Natalie Gjermo 29.2-28.47—57.67; 20. Claire Weber 30.05-29.73—59.78; 21. Emily Donner 30.23-29.57—59.8; 24. Maggie Raedeke 30.45-29.74—1:00.19; 26. Ashley Ludack 31.05-29.44—1:00.49; 29. Hanna Gaertner 31.62-30.13—1:01.75; 34. Cindy Prentice 31.83-31.2—1:03.03.