Alpine Skiing: 2 Warriors get all-state honors, 1 gets all-state honorable mention at state meet

Brandon Niefert placed 18th in the Alpine State Ski meet to earn all-state honors Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Giants Ridge. Bill Johnson Picture Day Pro!

Two Brainerd skiers finished in the top 20 to earn all-state honors at the Alpine State Meet Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

Junior Brandon Niefert placed 18th with a combined time of 1:15.72 in the boys race to be Brainerd’s top finisher. He showed consistency as he finished 21st in both of his runs.

“In the history of our program we have only had one other boy get all-state,” Warriors head coach Jim Ruttger said. “That was the goal of Brandon to get in the top 20 and he had a great run. To have a top 20 finish in an event like the state meet is quite the accomplishment. He’s only a junior so he’ll be back next year looking to get better.”

Niefert was proud to get all-state, but was sad to watch his senior teammates Cal Madison and Max Darkow ski their last race.

“I was really happy just to finish because that was my third time qualifying for state,” Niefert said. “My mindset was the same in-between runs. I knew I needed to finish another run, just had to get it down.”


Eighth-grader Lauren Kalenberg earned all-state honors for the girls with her 19th place finish with a combined time of 1:21.76.

“Lauren was kind of a surprise for us of how she finished the last half of the season,” Ruttger said. “She’s only an eighth grader and we have never had an eighth grader achieve all-state that I can remember. So she is in pretty good company with some racers who have done pretty well. The future looks really good for her.”

Lauren Kalenberg’s older sister Maddie Kalenberg finished 66th with a combined time of 1:28.18. It was a special moment for Lauren Kalenberg to run at state with her older sister, who is a senior.

“I did not feel that much pressure because I have four more years, so I just went all out,” Lauren Kalenberg said. “It was a nice moment for me and my sister to finish at state together because I knew this was the last year we could do it.”

Emma Hiebert finished in 23rd with a combined time of 1:22.35, which earned her all-state honorable mention honors. She needed an excellent second run to move into the top 25. After her first run Hiebert was in 39th place and finished in 17th on the second run to move her into the top 25.

“We have seen that a couple of times this year where she has a tentative first run and then nails her second run moving her up plenty of places,” Ruttger said. “Whatever her mindset was in that second run to move up that many places is huge and doesn’t happen very often.”

Last year, Hiebert finished 27th at state, which was just outside the top 25 needed to get honorable mention. To get it her senior season was special.

“After my first run I knew I was a little behind, but I knew I could go all out for my second run,” Hiebert said. “My second run felt great and I knew I left everything on that hill today. I’m very proud of myself. I knew this year I could improve because I have gotten so much better.”


Darkow finished with a combined time of 1:19.74, which was good for 43rd place. Madison placed 55th with a combined time of 1:21.48.

“For Max and Cal who grew up next to each other and raced each other since they have been about 6-years-old,” Ruttger said. “To see them cap off their senior year at state, they did not have the day they wanted, but it was cool.”

Erin Hoelzel was the seventh Warrior to race in state and she placed 36th with a combined time of 1:23.81.

For Ruttger, what he remembers most about this season is the depth he had from both the boys and girls team.

“Our girls won every meet except one they dropped to Duluth East by two points,” Ruttger said. “It included a first place finish at the Wild Mountain Invite, the largest high school race in Minnesota. A lot of the teams we saw today at state were represented in that race. An almost flawless season.

“On our boys side, we were so close to getting to state as a team. We had the most skiers in the top 11, but did not come through in the fourth skier to get us the state berth.

“What I will really remember these teams for is their depth. We have never had two teams go this deep and their good record too due to the fact that both teams are full of winners.”


Boys team scores: 1-Lakeville South 160, 2-Stillwater 157, 3-Minnetonka 146, 4-Edina 145, 5-Chisago 130, 6-Washburn 116, 7-Wayzata 86, 8-Hastings 67
Individual winner: Luke Conway 1:10.44 (Washburn)
Brainerd results: 18-Brandon Neifert 1:15.72, 43-Max Darkow 1:19.74, 55-Cal Madison 1:21.48

Girls team scores: 1-Lakeville North 165, 2-Stillwater 151, 3-Orono 146, 4-Minnetonka 133, 5-Edina 119, 6-Hill Murray 105, 7-Duluth East 102, 8-Minneapolis Southwest 78
Individual winner: Sophia Palmquist 1:14.25 (Edina)
Brainerd results: 19-Lauren Kalenberg 1:21.76, 23-Emma Hiebert 1:22.35, 36-Erin Hoelzel 1:23.81, 66-Maddie Kalenberg 1:28.18

Lauren Kalenberg placed 19th in the Alpine State Ski meet to earn all-state honors Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Giants Ridge. Bill Johnson Picture Day Pro!

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