Alpine Skiing: Both Warrior teams look to build on last year’s success

Brainerd Warrior Alpine ski captains Maddie Kalenberg, (left) Cassidy Chaney, Whitney Fink, Max Darkow, Cal Madison, Brandon Niefert, and Emma Hiebert pause at the top of Mount Ski Gull Monday, Dec. 9, before starting practice. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

With both the Brainerd Warriors boys and girls teams returning everyone from a pair of third-place finishes at the Section 5 meet last season, of course, expectations are going to be higher than a ski lift.

Add to that two returning state skiers on the boys squad and three for the girls and Warriors head coach Jim Ruttger is naturally excited about the possibilities of this season. However, the two teams that topped Brainerd last year are also going to be formidable opponents this season.

“For the girls we finished behind Orono and Minnetonka and they both are always very good,” Ruttger said. “For the boys we finished ahead of Orono, which was a bit of surprise, but then the St. Cloud team advanced to their first-ever state meet. We added their invite to our schedule this year so we can get another look at them. We skied them three times last year. They came out ahead of us two of those three times.”

Last year the Minnetonka boys won the section boys title with 316 points. St. Cloud placed second with 282, just four points ahead of Brainerd. Ruttger said in the big picture, four points is just a few seconds behind.

Looking to switch the order a bit will be junior Brandon Neifert and senior Cal Madison. Neifert finished fifth in the section and Madison 14th to advance the state meet.


“Both are looking very good in practice and they both have a chance to become three-time state meet participants,” Ruttger said.

Senior Max Darkow placed 21st in the section meet followed by freshman Gavin Hoelzel in 22nd, junior Anthony Elsenpeter in 29th and senior Trevor Hutchison in 54th place.

Last year, Brainerd recorded three first-place finishes, including their best-ever showing at the Wild Mountain Invite.

“That’s a really big meet with 21 or 22 teams competing,” Ruttger said. “While we’re looking forward to our season opener Friday, we are very excited to be the defending champions for that event next week.

“The girls finished second which is also their best showing ever at that event.”

Of the 11 events Brainerd skied in last year, the Warriors were never out of the top three. The boys other two wins came at the Hibbing Invite at Giants Ridge and at the Moose Mountain Invite at Lutsen. The girls won the Cook County Invite at Lutsen, the Hibbing Invite, Moose Invite and won the Brainerd Invite at Mount Ski Gull.

“When you return everybody it’s going to be hard to crack into that lineup,” Ruttger said. “We go down to six skiers for sections so we have just six spots, but we have some really good young skiers that will be pushing to crack the lineup. Guys like Emmet Johnson and Esten Hiebert are very good.”

On the girls side, Emma Hiebert, Maddie Kalenberg and Erin Hoelzel all advanced to state. Hiebert placed 27th at state followed by Hoelzel in 41st place and Kalenberg in 58th.


At sections last year, Hiebert finished 13th, Kalenberg 16th and Hoelzel 17th. Senior Cassidy Chaney placed 27th, eighth-grader Calia Chaney was 29th and Maddie Pederson finished 31st.

“We were without Ali Krantz last year as she was injured during our practice run and was held out with a concussion,” Ruttger said. “She’s also back this year. I think we have five girls on this roster that can make it to state. Calia is just an eighth-grader and she might weight 60 pounds. She’s such a great athlete. When she gets stronger she’s going to be really, really good. She’s already good.”

Alpine skiing
Head coach: Jim Ruttger, 31st season

2018-19 boys finish: Third in Section 5

2018-19 girls finish: Third in Section 5

Boys state entrant: Cal Madison, Brandon Neifert

Boys captains: Cal Madison, Max Darkow, Brandon Neifert


Girls state entrant: Emma Hiebert, Erin Hoelzel, Maddie Kalenberg

Girls captains: Emma Hiebert, Maddie Kalenberg, Cassidy Chaney, Whitney Fink

Assistant coaches: Tom Burton, Deby Zarling, Andy Rangen, David Ude

Volunteer coaches: Jeff Aga, Larry Zarling, Courtney Neifert

Warrior boys roster

Seniors: Cal Madison, Max Darkow, Trevor Hutchinson

Juniors: Anthony Elsenpeter, Brandon Neifert, Briston Domino, Jackson Holmes, Micah Wood


Sophomores: Bryce Unger, Logan Omberg, Matthew Erholtz, Sean Baumann, Esten Hiebert

Freshmen: Brayden Tollefson, Garrett Krantz, Gavin Hoelzel, Parker Linn, Emmet Johnson, Max Krieger

Eighth-grader: Peter Breitbach

Seventh-graders: Jagger Klecatsky, Eli Johnson, Drew Cline

Warrior Girls roster

Seniors: Carola Sanz, Cassidy Chaney, Emma Hiebert, Linsey Proctor, Madison Kalenberg, Nino Chichakua, Whitney Fink

Juniors: Allison Krantz, Anna Krieger, Carsyn Krassas, Erin Hoelzel, Francesca Stewart, Maddie Pederson


Sophomores: Hannah Taylor, Annika Wiczek

Freshmen: Cadence Hartwig, Lucille Boche, Morgan Krieger, Anna Tupy

Eighth-graders: Lauren Kalenberg, Calia Chaney, Cora Novotny, Millie Taylor, Amanda Trusty, Aubrey Wilczek

Seventh-graders: Teagan Hartwig, Hannah Kippes

Warrior schedule

Friday, Dec. 13: Cook County Invite at Lutsen Mountains 10 a.m.

Dec. 20: at Wild Mountain Invite 9 a.m.


Jan. 2: St. Cloud Invite at Powder Ridge 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 6: Detroit Lakes Invite at Detroit Mountain 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 9: Hibbing Invite at Giants Ridge 10 a.m.

Jan. 14: Annandale Invite at Powder Ridge 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 18: MKL Invitational at Giants Ridge

Jan. 23: Koo Koo Invite at Lutsen Mountains 10:30 a.m.

Jan. 24: Stillwater Invite at Afton Alps noon

Jan. 27: Warrior Invite at Mount Ski Gull 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 30: Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Invite at Spirit Mountain 10 a.m.

Feb. 6: Section 5 meet at Afton Alps 10 a.m.

Feb. 12: State Mett at Giants Ridge

Jim Ruttger

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