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Alpine Skiing: Stones ski into state tournament

HASTINGS — It’s time for the annual Stone family trip north.

For the fifth straight year Brainerd Warrior Savannah Stone qualified for the state Alpine ski meet as she finished third in Thursday’s Section 5 meet at Afton Alps.

Her sister will tag along for a second-straight year as Alex Stone finished 17th to advance as well.

Those two helped the Warrior girls finish third as a team behind Blake and Minnetonka. The Brainerd boys placed 11th.

“It’s another new bench mark for both our boys and girls team,” said Warriors head coach Jim Ruttger about Savannah’s fifth state tournament appearance. The only person that can match Savannah’s state resume right now would be her sister, who as a seventh-grader, finished 55th in last year’s state meet.

The senior Stone was tied for second after her first run of 33.59. Stone posted the fifth fastest time on her second run of 31.71 to place third, less than a second behind Orono’s Rosie Hust, who won the section with a 1:04.51.

“Going into it I was nervous,” said Savannah. “I new I had to put two runs together and after my first run I was tied for second and I knew that was a good spot to be in for just making it. Then the second run I just put another one down and moved to third. I just wanted to go 100 percent and wanted to make sure I put a run down so I had my spot. The team was in my mind, though. I knew there was a chance the team could go, too, if everyone skied great. And everyone did. We all put down good runs.”

Ashley Fitterer finished 21st and Emily Aga placed 24th for Brainerd’s 395 points. Blake finished with 430 points and Minnetonka recorded 429 points.

“We could see that building all day long,” said Ruttger. “All six of our girls skied great on both of their runs. You couldn’t ask for more from our team. We knew if Blake and Minnetonka skied well, too, that that’s how it was going to finish. Our only chance was if any of their skiers went down. But they didn’t. They all skied great, too.

“To finish third out of that field — I couldn’t be more proud of our girls.”

Savannah finished sixth at state last year for the program’s best finish. She placed 64th in 2011, 17th in 2010 and 72nd in 2009.

Alex Stone recorded a first run of 36.95 to land in 20th place. Her second run, 34.13, was the 14th-fastest time and bumped her into 17th place.

“I think I did pretty good on my first run,” said Alex. “It was pretty good. My second run, I just really laid it down. It was one of my best runs ever. I was really happy with it. I probably wouldn’t have advanced had I not done as good as I did on that run.”

Brainerd’s boys were led by sophomore Gabe Gibson’s 44th-place 1:15.02. Sophomore Ben Thoele finished 48th, seventh-grader Tristen Elsenpeter 49th and sophomore Cal Johnson 53rd for the Warriors’ 283.5 points.

“We went into this with the thought that we’re not going to win or advance to state, but if we can try to get into that middle third we’d be happy. So for our boys to finish 11th out of 22 teams is a really great accomplishment,” said Ruttger. “They exceeded our expectations. We told them if you look at all of our teams and you took out all of our juniors and seniors from those teams, this is a better team than we would have had in any of those other years. Another year or two, by the time these guys are seniors, we’ll be pretty good.”

Boys team scores: 1-Orono 454, 2-Blake 441, 3-Minetonka 413, 4-St. Cloud Breakaways 408, 5-Benilde-St. Margaret’s 404, 6-Breck 371, 7-Lakes Area 352, 8-Hopkins 333.5, 9-Maple Grove 308, 10-Mound Westonka 290.5, 11-Brainerd 283.5, 12-Wayzata 279, 13-Armstrong 236, 14-Anandale 214

Individual winner: Jack McNeill (Blake) 1:01.47

Brainerd results: 44-Gabe Gibson 1:15.02, 48-Ben Thoele 1:17.44, 49-Tristen Elsenpeter 1:18.77, 53-Cal Johnson 1:20.93, 64-Grant Madison 1:22.71, 66-Garett Lee 1:23.74

Girls team scores: 1-Blake 430, 2-Minnetonka 429, 3-Brainerd 395, 4-Orono 378, 5-Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 6-Wayzata 337, 7-Maple Grove 327, 8-St. Cloud Breakaways 276, 9-Hopkins 259, 10-Breck 249, 11-Mound Westonka 239, 12-Armstrong 236

Individual winner: Rosie Hust (Orono) 1:04.51

Brainerd results: 3-Savannah Stone 1:05.3, 17-Alex Stone 1:11.08, 21-Ashley Fitterer 1:12.44, 24-Emily Aga 1:14.00, 26-Hannah Moen 1:15.03, 31-Grace McGuire 1:17.01

Next: State meet at Giants Ridge, Biwabik, 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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