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Nordic Skiing: LF's Zupko all-state, Warrior boys finish 11th

Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro Hunter Zupko of Little Falls attains all-state honors with a 23rd-place finish in the state Nordic ski meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.1 / 2
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro Kendal Hendrickson of Little Falls skis to a 33rd-place finish in Thursday's state Nordic meet at Giants Ridge.2 / 2

Hunter Zupko of Little Falls attained all-state honors and the Brainerd Warrior boys team finished 11th in Thursday's state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

Zupko finished 23rd with a time of 29:47.7 in the boys meet. He completed the freestyle in 14:19 and the classic in 15:28.7. The top 25 skiers earn all-state recognition.

"He was only five seconds out of 10th after the skate," Flyers coach Terry Wasland said. "He had a good skate race in the morning. The classic race didn't go quite as well as we hoped so he was a little disappointed in that respect.

"It was a tough day to figure out your kick. Waxing was a difficult day for us."

Evan Schreifels, in 52nd place at 31:08.1, was the fastest Brainerd boy. Rounding out the top Warriors' four were Gabe Raguse in 64th place, Evan Storbakken 68th and Andrew Wasniewski 87th.

"That's our best finish in our last few trips to state, especially in this (pursuit) format," Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said. "We were quite pleased afterward to hear the boys did that.

"We didn't have an all-state finish like Robb Pike last year but the boys clumped it up nicely. As a cohesive group sticking together, with those results, no one was outstanding and nobody skied out of their minds but we didn't have any scorers have a big letdown either. Consistency is the name of the game."

Other scorers for the Little Falls boys, who finished 13th, included Colton Yorek in 38th place, Seth Crocker 104th and Colton Gottwalt 122nd.

"Colton Yorek skied outstanding," Wasland said. "He was the No. 2 boy for us. He just did a nice job."

In the girls race, Kendal Hendrickson of Little Falls skied to a 33rd-place finish at 35:21.8.

"She was 26th after the freestyle," Wasland said. "She actually moved up to 20th for a while in the classic. Again, had we done a better job waxing, we might have been up in there. Her skis did some icing up and that slowed her down on the down hills. She lost some time there.

"She was disappointed she was not in the top 25. But she (put) it all out there and gave it all she could."

Nicollet Gammon-Deering was 74th, Christy Masog 104th and Molly Lange 119th for the 11th-place Flyers.

"We just couldn't put together two good races from many of our kids today," Wasland said. "Either they classiced well or they freestyled well—they didn't do both. Our girls were probably capable of being around ninth or so. Had they been able to put two good races together they might have been there.

"It's tough competition up here. But everyone was in the same boat with waxing."

Wasland said warm temperatures made it challenging to determine the best wax to use.

"Races in the morning went well for most people," he said. "It was a firm course. It was still below freezing and held up well. It was a little dirty from the wind. The wind had blown a lot of debris from the trees.

"The classic race was a tough one. It had iced over badly. The track itself was icy. It was tough to find a kick wax that would do the job without icing up and without dragging on the down hills."

Brainerd's Grace Erholtz, who finished 118th last year, moved up one place Thursday.

"Grace worked hard, she skied hard, it just wasn't her day," Warriors co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan said, "but she did improve. She did come back in the classic portion to advance one place and hold her own. If I improve my time 5-6 seconds, I might move up about 10 places. It's a very competitive field.

"Yes, she would have liked to have done better. Could she have been better? Maybe, but the state meet is the state meet. She's a young sophomore. To get back here is a big challenge. She met the challenge and wanted to be in the top 10 from our section. I would say she had a very successful year."

Boys results

Team scores: 1-Mpls. Southwest 421, 2-Wayzata 405, 3-Highland Park 385, 4-Forest Lake 378, 5-Mora 347, 6-Stillwater 321, 7-Grand Rapids 315, 8-Eagan 312, 9-Duluth East 307, 10-Champlin Park 304, 11-Brainerd 273, 12-Edina 270, 13-Little Falls 259, 14-Robbinsdale Armstrong 231, 15-St. Paul Central 209, 16-Winona/Cotter 200

Individual winner: Xavier Mansfield (Spring Lake Park) 28:23.2

Brainerd results: 52-Evan Schreifels 31:08.1, 64-Gabe Raguse 31:29.8, 68-Evan Storbakken 31:34.9, 87-Andrew Wasniewski 32:15.0, 106-Sam Nesheim 33:00.1, 133-Maxim Osborne 33:49.2, 153-Mac Brink 36:10.0

Little Falls results: 23-Hunter Zupko 29:47.7, 38-Colton Yorek 30:49.8, 104-Seth Crocker 32:55.9, 122-Colton Gottwalt 33:16.9, 125-Jackson Grant 33:21.4, 126-Cormac Shanoff 33:25.0, 149-Isaac Jackson 35:17.1

Girls results

Team scores: 1-Ely 413, 2-Armstrong 394, 3-Mpls. Southwest 368, 4-Stillwater 368, 5-Duluth East 568, 6-Forest Lake 361, 7-Hopkins 361, 8-Edina 322, 9-Highland Park 297, 10-Burnsville 281, 11-Little Falls 244, 12-Eastview 235, 13-Henry Sibley 221, 14-Andover 188, 15-Maple Grove 161, 16-Bemidji 159

Individual winner: 1-Erin Bianco (Ely) 32:20.0

Brainerd results: 117-Grace Erholtz 38:29.9

Little Falls results: 33-Kendal Hendrickson 35:21.8, 74-Nicollet Gammon-Deering 36:57.3, 104-Christy Masog 37:58.5, 119-Molly Lange 38:37.8, 125-Alice Foote 39:15.7, 152-Savanna Slettom 43:37.1, 153-Catherine Zack 44:09.9