Alpine Skiing: 7 Warriors headed to state

Maddie Kalenberg

HASTINGS — Seven Brainerd Warriors lengthened their season by qualifying for state after the Section 5 meet Thursday, Feb. 6, at Afton Alps.

The Warrior girls were eight points away from qualifying as a team, but will send Maddie Kalenberg, Emma Hiebert, Erin Hoelzel and Lauren Kalenberg.

Brainerd boys finished fourth and will send Cal Madison, Brandon Neifert and Max Darkow to the state meet.

“It was a great result in the fact we have seven state qualifiers, but both teams had higher expectations as a team and we didn’t quite get there today,” Warriors head coach Jim Ruttger said. “The boys were solidly in a comfortable second place after the first run. We had quite a spread between second and third, but we were also in a vulnerable position because we lost two guys to falls in the first run. When you score four that puts a lot of pressure on your four guys who had clean runs to repeat the second run. Three of ours did.

“I know I told the girls if we get four individual qualifiers we’ll be going as a team and here we are with four qualifiers and we aren’t going as a team. It’s unusual, but in 2014 we had five individual qualifiers and we did not go as a team. Then the next year was when we won the section and won state.”


Senior Maddie Kalenberg was sitting 12th after her first run, but posted the sixth-fastest second run to move up three spots into ninth. Heibert, a senior, opened in 11th place and stayed in that spot with a 1:10.26.

“After the first run, you’re just trying to get the nerves out of the way so for the second run I just wanted to go for it,” Maddie Kalenberg said. “We were pretty confident that we could all lay down a good second run and really push it. We had nothing to lose.

“It was a little disappointing not to make it as a team, but I was really proud of everyone. To be that close is a good accomplishment.”

Hoelzel moved up four spots after her first run to finish 15th and eighth-grader Lauren Kalenberg nabbed the final individual spot with her 16th-place time of 1:12.35.

“I’m so happy for Lauren, especially with her being in eighth grade,” Maddie Kalenberg said of her younger sister. “This being my senior year, we’ll get to share that one last memory. That will be awesome.”

The boys were in second position heading into the second run. Madison said he felt pressure to kick up his aggressiveness.

“I knew I had to kick it in gear and give it a bit more,” Madison said. “The first run was solid, but I wanted to give it a bit more to try and get a bit faster of a time.”

Madison opened in sixth place with a 32.03 first run and dropped one spot to seventh with a 1:04.53. Neifert placed ninth with a 1:05.06. Both are advancing to their third state meet.


“It’s still a good feeling,” Madison said. “It would have been a better feeling if all of us could have gone. It would have been a cool experience to have the whole team there, but it’s still pretty cool to have three of us going.

“I’m just going to try and beat the number that’s on my bib and try and beat previous placings that I’ve had at state.”

Darkow finished 11th overall with a 1:05.91.

“Max is a senior this year and we so wanted him to make it this year and to see him after he crossed the finish line on his second run, we just knew he had it,” Ruttger said. “It was a great result to get those three up there at Giants Ridge at state.”

Boys team scores: 1-Minnetonka 344, 2-Wayzata 289, 3-St. Cloud 280, 4-Brainerd 271, 5-Orono 269, 6-Blake 249, 7-Annandale 244, 8-Lakes Area Alpine 241, 9-Benilde-St. Margaret’s 234, 10-Westonka 229, 11-Hopkins 215, 12-Northwest Alpine 202, 13-Robbinsdale-Armstrong 183, 14-Breck 119, 15-Irondale 92
Individual winner: Eli Quist (Minnetonka) 1:01.42
Brainerd results: 7-Cal Madison 1:04.53, 9-Brandon Neifert 1:05.06, 11-Max Darkow 1:05.91, 74-1:40.06, 75-Gavin Hoelzel 1:44.98, Esten Hiebert DNF


Girls team scores: 1-Minnetonka 337, 2-Orono 337, 3-Brainerd 329, 4-Wayzata 285, 5-Benilde-St. Margaret’s 272, 6-Hopkins 268, 7-Blake 253, 8-St. Cloud 233, 9-Robbinsdale-Armstrong 218, 10-Annandale 209, 11-Westonka 195, 12-Waconia 184, 13-Breck 183, 14-Northwest Alpine 118, 15-Lakes Area Alpine 112, 16-Irondale 58
Individual winner: Emma Wolf (Delano) 1:06.09
Brainerd results: 9-Maddie Kalenberg 1:09.07, 11-Emma Hiebert 1:10.26, 15-Erin Hoelzel 1:11.85, 16-Lauren Kalenberg 1:12.35, 63-Alli Krantz 1:29.40, Cassidy Chaney DNF
Next: State Alpine Ski meet at Giants Ridge Resort, Biwabik Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Cal Madison

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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