Nole Robertson highlights the Brainerd Warriors boys Nordic skiing team.
The senior captain is the lone state participant returning for the Warriors and hopes to get back there this year.
As a team, the boys finished second in the Central Lakes Conference and fourth in Section 8. Seniors Jacob Olson, Ryan Cady and Robertson all return with experience for the Warriors.
“The guys side we have a lot of juniors and seniors coming back,” co-head coach Chris Hanson said. “They have the experience along with younger guys, especially Eli Knapp, who looks to be a factor for the boys this year. The boys should be significantly stronger this year than they were last year and we got a lot of our hard workers and skill guys returning.”
Hanson said numbers for Nordic skiing are down a bit from last year. Brainerd is about five skiers down from each side.
“This year we are at about 50 skiers, but last year it was more around 60 skiers,” Hanson said. “So not down a lot, but noticeable.”
Robertson will lead the way. His 28:46 time in the section meet gave him a ninth-place finish and a state appearance. At state, he finished 84th in 32:34.4.
Cady serves as the other captain alongside Robertson. Cady turned in a 29:23 performance in sections.
“Both of those boys are well positioned to lead the team,” Hanson said. “They have both been skiing and when allowed, organized workouts while we were in our pause mode.” Ryan had a good fall cross-country season and Nole played soccer. It’s great to see those guys when those seasons conclude get into their ski stuff.
“Nole and Ryan are both leaders by example and they are not going to be outworked and I think they really set the tone for the other guys. They help lift everybody up and I like when they give attention to the younger guys.”
With a late start to the season, Hanson said the boys were pretty diligent in making sure they were in shape for the first practice.
“We’ve gone through a couple different schedules, but with the kids doing some of their workouts early, I don’t think they lost a lot of conditioning,” Hanson said. “They stayed active and we are ready to get into the race prep.”
The first meet is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14, at Moorhead. The meets will be a little different to follow COVID-19 protocols. There will be a morning race and an afternoon race each featuring three teams, not unlike cross-country in the fall.
Most likely, the team won’t be full strength for its first meet due to it being finals week.
Other skiers Hanson hopes can step up for the Warriors are Mitchell Neumann who finished in 29:06 in sections, Eli Knapp who finished in 30:07, Jacob Olson who finished in 30:11 as well as Atticus Osborne, Noah and Zach Schaeffer, and Bennet and Braden Capelle.
“All of these guys would be varsity contenders on other teams, but we are a strong and deep team this year,” Hanson said. “So hopefully they will be pushing those in front of them. Your skiers and racers that finish behind the top 4 can have an effect on other schools' scores, so to have a larger team of experienced skiers is a benefit.”
Overall, the boys are excited to be back.
“It’s been a charged atmosphere,’ Hanson said. “It’s exciting and the kids are worried about the first week with it being finals, but everyone is excited to have a season because we went so long without knowing. We are hoping to stay healthy and see how many guys we can get into that postseason.”
Freshman: Truman Dirks, Hayden Hagen, Lance Hastings, Leif Hoffman, Elias Knapp
Sophomore: Karlton Anderson, Elijah Hallgren, Ethan Nash, Jake Stockinger
Junior: Adam Cady, Bennet Capelle, Braden Capelle, Benjamin Guida, Elijah Hanson, Benjamin Karlgaard, Nicholas Moore, Mitchell Neumann, Noah Schaeffer, Zachary Schaeffer
Senior: Ryan Cady, Treyton Miller, Jacob Olson, Atticus Osborne, Nole Robertson
Thursday, Jan. 14: at Moorhead
Saturday, Jan. 23: at Bemidji
Tuesday, Jan. 26: at Moorhead
Saturday, Jan. 30: at Little Falls
Thursday, Feb. 4: at Fergus Falls
Tuesday, Feb. 9: hosts at Arboretum
Tuesday, Feb. 16: at Detroit Lakes
Saturday, Feb. 20: at Alexandria
Tuesday, Feb. 23: at Bemidji
March 1-6: CLC Championships at Willmar
March 8-13: Section/State week
2020-21 Nordic skiing
Co-head coaches: Chris Hanson, Mary Claire Ryan
2019-20 boys finish: Second in CLC, fourth in Section 8
Returning state meet participants: Nole Robertson
Boys captains: Ryan Cady, Nole Robertson
Assistant coaches: Eric Storbakken, Clint Baker, Kevin Robertson (volunteer assistant)