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Brainerd's Chad Orsburn and Cole Kubesh and Staples-Motley's Owen Bjerga and Alex Erpelding captured individual championships in the 50th annual Paul Bunyan Invitational Saturday at Brainerd High School. Orsburn was champion at 113, Kubesh at 120, Bjerga at 132 and Erpelding at 182. Lakes area runners-up included Trevor Radunz of Pierz (106), Spencer Miller of Staples-Motley (120), Brandon Ortman of Pierz (138) and Brett Kapsner of Pierz at 182. Foley repeated as team champion. Frazee was runner-up, Pierz finished third. Final Team Scores:
Alpine skiing 2016-17 Head coach: Jim Ruttger, 29th season 2015-16 boys finish: Seventh in Section 5 2015-16 girls finish: Third in Section 5 Returning girls state entrant: Alex Stone Boys captains: Grant Madison, Grant Kosobud Girls captains: Alex Stone, Grace McGuire Assistant coaches: Mike Stone, Tom Burton, Deby Zarling Volunteer coaches: Jeff Aga, Larry Zarling, Taylor Fitterer In 2014-15, the Brainerd Warrior girls team shook up a metro-dominated sport by capturing the state championship.
Section 5 is one of the state's top boys Alpine skiing sections with 13 of the 21 schools located in the metro area and many individuals on those teams ski in the United States Ski and Snowboard Association program as well as for their high school team. That makes it difficult for outstate teams like the Brainerd Warriors to win the section title and qualify for state.
Nordic skiing 2016-17 Co-head coaches: Chris Hanson, Mary Claire Ryan 2015-16 girls finish: Conference runner-up, fourth in Section 8 2015-16 boys finish: Conference champions, Section 8 champions, 14th at state Returning state meet boys participants: Evan Schreifels, Sam Nesheim, Evan Storbbaken, Mac Brink, Andrew Wasniewski Returning state meet girls participant: Grace Erholtz Girls captains: Faith Watson, Laura Wadsten Boys captains: Sam Nesheim, Evan Schreifels Assistant coaches: Eric Storbakken, Jan Costello, Diane Meyer, Clint Baker
In the winter of 2014-15, the Brainerd Warriors finished second in Section 8 and qualified for the state meet for the first time in four years. Last season, Brainerd won the section championship and returned to state where it finished 14th. This winter, the Warriors hope to maintain their tradition of skiing at state and defending the last two Central Lakes Conference championships. With five skiers returning from the state team, the Warriors appear capable of making it three consecutive state trips.
It's only five games into the 2016-17 season, but the Brainerd/Little Falls Warriors sent a message to Section 8-2A teams Tuesday at Essentia Health Sports Center. The Warriors are a team to be reckoned with after bumping off the defending section champion Sartell/Sauk Rapids Stormin' Sabres 2-1 on a power-play goal by Olivia Wiskow 2:13 into overtime. The victory gave BLF a 2-0-0 Central Lakes Conference mark and a 5-0-0 overall record. "It is early, but it's fun to play those types of games," Warriors coach Jim Ernster said. "We knew coming into this game that Sartell was by far and away going to be our stoutest test. We as a staff felt the girls were going to be up for the challenge and they certainly were.
Within a 77-second span of the opening period, this one was practically over. Brainerd flicked in four of its five goals during that stretch and cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Fergus Falls Otters Thursday at Essentia Health Sports Center. Gavin Andres, Brady Anderson, Jack Evans and Riley Andres slapped in first-period goals and Matt Fischer added a late marker in the Warriors' home opener. The Warriors' defense restricted Fergus Falls to just 13 shots, two in the second period, but Brainerd let the Otters get back in the Central Lakes Conference game by allowing two third-period scores.
If the Brainerd Warriors can recruit a few individuals to wrestle the heavier weights, they could have a say in who wins Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A championships this winter. Brainerd returns four state entrants—Brad Patnode and Cole Kubesh from the 2016 Class 3A individual tournament and Andy Schlosser and Braden Kramer from the 2015 state tournament. They are four of 21 returning letterwinners, but the Warriors need some muscle up above.
Entering Year Three under the direction of Dave Aus, Brainerd appears to have the potential to be in the conversation for Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-2A titles this season. Brainerd returns two of its four top scorers in Matt Fischer and Jack Evans and four of its top defensemen including Mitch Andres. Fischer and Mitch Andres were all-conference players a year ago. If the Warriors can get solid goaltending from newcomers James Engen or Colin Kleffman, both of whom played briefly last season, this could be Aus' most successful season at Essentia Health Sports Center.
Senior captains Nicole Atwater and Elizabeth Aydt and junior captain Emily Nelson lead the Brainerd Warriors cheerleading team into its first competition of the season Saturday, Nov. 19, in the Extreme Cheer Challenge at East Ridge High School in Woodbury. Atwater, Aydt and Nelson will be joined on the varsity by seniors Emily Felsheim and Alexea Groters, juniors Cassi Davis and Gallaya Karpeh and freshmen Kaylee Sutton, Harlee Timmons and Courtney Weinrich.