MAPLEWOOD — With the some big races coming up the next few weeks, the Stillwater boys’ and girls’ Nordic ski teams jumped in with a grueling pursuit race on Monday at Battle Creek Regional Park.
Several of the teams held out some of their top skiers, but the Ponies hardly missed a beat while showing off their depth with victories in both events.
“It was a fun day to do a dry run pursuit races for the championship events we have coming up,” Stillwater co-head coach Kris Hansen said. “It’s hard to do two 5-kilometer races in one day — it takes a lot of organizational and mental preparation. You need to have equipment and food and clothes for two different races as well as anything you need to be comfortable in between. Even more challenging are the mental preparations.”
The Stillwater boys scored 461 points to finish in front of runner-ups Roseville and Mounds View, who tied at 328, while the Ponies won the girls’ race by a 486-437 margin over Roseville and the rest of the 10-team field.
Linder Wendt set the pace for the Stillwater boys while placing second in a time of 30:12, which was 25 seconds behind individual winner Dalton Pauly (29:47) of Mounds View. Quentin Ikuta followed in fifth place for the Ponies in 20:29 while Shad Kraftson followed in ninth at 31:21.
“With some of these top skiers missing, it gave our next group of skiers a chance to battle for top spots,” Ponies co-head coach Torry Kraftson said. “Linder rose to the occasion. He placed third in the morning classical and passed a Mounds View skier during the freestyle pursuit to move up to second. Quentin and Shad also picked up one spot in the freestyle pursuit.”
Stillwater placed a total of nine skiers among the top 22, a list that includes Davis Gray (12th), Davis Ross (16th), Matt Trumper (18th), Nolan Noer (19th), Stefan Nelson (21st) and Reis Jones (22nd).
“Led by Davis Gray, our 4th through 10th skiers — including Josh Albrecht in the JV race — were separated by an impressively low 41 seconds,” Kraftson said. “It was fun to watch the freestyle pursuit as several of boys were skiing in groups and pushing each other along. This race was a great tune-up for conference and sections, which will use the same format and be run on the same courses.”
With Vessa Pearsall and Megan Weaver sitting out Monday’s competition, Cela Peterson won her second race of the season with a winning time of 33:38, which was 47 seconds faster than teammate Siri Bohacek (34:25).
“Vessa and Megan were both a bit tired and sat out the pursuit today, so it was a nice opportunity for some of our other skiers to shine,” Hansen said. “Cela had the fastest splits of the day both for the classic and the freestyle legs. She really pushed through the whole race and ended up winning the day by just under a minute. Cela makes the skiing look effortless, though I know she is working hard. This was Siri’s first true pursuit race and she handled it well, pulling into second place just half a kilometer from the finish. I know she was tired, but I think the thought of finishing second in the race gave her the adrenaline she needed to move ahead and maintain her lead.”
They had plenty of company near the front as Stillwater teammates Ellie Hill and Haley Beech finished fourth and fifth and Sofie Wicklund followed in seventh.
“Ellie had a great race, too. She was skiing with more pop in the classic race than I’ve seen and really gritted her teeth to stay tough through the freestyle race,” Hansen said. “We’re so glad to have her horsepower on the team. Haley started the morning in kind of a low gear, but both Haley and Sofie were quick in the freestyle event and made up several spots so that we finished the day with five of the top seven times.”
Hannah Beech and Anya Nelson placed 11th and 17th for the Ponies whiel Morgan McBride was one spot back in 18th place.
“The girls looked good today,” Hansen said. “We’re coming down to the wire on naming our conference and section teams so the girls were really putting themselves out there to try and earn those spots. It’s a challenge with a team as good and as deep as our is to have to draw a line, but that’s what we are forced to do at the end of the year. The girls get that — and they get that they are all one team, but they are also working hard to earn their spots.”
Boys team standings
1. Stillwater 461; 2, tie, Roseville 428 and Mounds View 428; 4. Mahtomedi 391; 5. Woodbury 381; 6. Forest Lake 349; 7. Hastings 297; 8. East Ridge 283; 9. White Bear Lake 280; 10. Park 241.
1. Dalton Pauly (MV) 29:47; 2. Linder Wendt (St) 30:12; 3. Joe Morey (MV) 30:27; 4. Evan Bonneson (Par) 30:28; 5. Quentin Ikuta (St) 30:29.
2. Linder Wendt 15:46-14:26—30:12; 5. Quentin Ikuta 16:16-14:13—30:29; 9. Shad Kraftson 16:47-14:34—31:21; 12. Davis Gray 16:53-15:27—32:20; 16. David Ross 17:13-15:21—32:34; 18. Matt Trumper 17:11-15:30—32:41; 19. Nolan Noer 17:51-15:03—32:54; 21. Stefan Nelson 17:34-15:26—33:00; 22. Reis Jones 17:53-15:08—33:01.
Girls team standings
1. Stillwater 486; 2. Roseville 437; 3. Mahtomedi 388; 4. Forest Lake 382; 5. White Bear Lake 364; 6. Mounds View 338; 7. East Ridge 324; 8. Woodbury 318; 9. Hastings 282; 10. Park 149.
1. Cela Peterson (St) 33:38; 2. Siri Bohacek (St) 34:25; 3. Hanna Torvi (Ros) 34:28; 4. Ellie Hill (St) 35:19; 5. Haley Beech (St) 35:37.
1. Cela Peterson 17:49-15:49—33:38; 2. Siri Bohacek 18:10-16:15—34:25; 4. Ellie Hill 18:17-17:02—35:19; 5. Haley Beech 18:42-16:55—35:37; 7. Sofie Wicklund 19:25-16:37—36:02; 11. Hannah Beech 18:27-17:59—36:26; 17. Anya Nelson 19:41-17:49—37:30; 18. Morgan McBride 19:43-18:24—38:07; 23. Emma Rettner 20:09-19:02—39:11.