Alpine Skiing: With depth Warriors look to make state in both girls and boys
Alpine skiing team comes into 2021 with strong expectations
Head coach Jim Ruttger comes into 2021 with high expectations for his Alpine ski teams.
With multiple returners from last years’ teams, including state participants Brandon Neifert, Lauren Kalenberg and Erin Hoelzel, both teams should be just as good.
Neifert is a senior boys captain. He raced in 1:15.72 at the state meet to finish 18th and earn All-State honors. In sections, Neifert placed in the top-10 in 1:05.06.
“We will be expecting some great things from Brandon,” Ruttger said. “He has the opportunity to be our first-ever four-time state qualifier. That’s quite an accomplishment and I’m sure that’s something that will be on his mind.
“Brandon is always a gamer. In the important meets, he tends to ski well. He’s a skier that will oftentimes take the risker line and that sometimes can get him in trouble, but when he finishes he’s always extremely fast.”
Neifert has been one of the more resourceful skiers for the Warriors as they have struggled to find meets. He even travels five hours to Wausau, Wis., to ski for a club.
“Given the problems we have had with scheduling, he got into a camp and is a member of three teams, including our high school team,” Ruttger said. “He’s really worked hard at it and deserves to have a good senior year.”
As a team last year, the boys finished fourth in Section 5 behind Minnetonka, Wayzata and St. Cloud.
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“We had the best boys’ team maybe ever last year,” Ruttger said. “They were, after the first run last year, solidly in second in sections. If they would’ve skied like that in the second run they would’ve made state. It’s a strong motivation and goal for this year.”
Anthony Elsenpeter is the other boys’ captain. Gavin Hoelzel is a returner that participated in sections last year and posted a 1:44.98.
“(Elsenpeter) has just been rock solid for us,” Ruttger said. “He’s very natural on skis and he’s a kid you can always depend on.
“Gavin is only in 10th grade and he’s one of the strongest skiers we’ve ever had as a 10th grader. So he’ll contribute quite a bit for us.”
Esten Hiebert, Parker Linn and Sean Baumann are skiers Ruttger expects to fill in some of the gaps for the boys this year.
“Those guys are going to be neck-in-neck with each other,” Ruttger said.
For the girls, Lauren Kalenberg and Erin Hoelzel are state returners. As a team the Warrior girls finished third in Section 5 missing state by eight points to Orono.
“With both teams, it's about our depth,” Ruttger said. “With our girls, I got four or five girls who are neck-in-neck with each other with the head of our pack.”
Kalenberg was All-State last year as an eighth grader finishing 19th in 1:21.76.
“She’s our youngest All-State skier ever,” Ruttger said. “She’s also shown a lot of improvement this year. Some of it is just the natural growth that happens. She has a lot of fun with it and always has a smile on her face. I just want to make sure she continues to enjoy what she’s doing and works hard at it.”
Senior captain Erin Hoelzel was just outside the top 25 for All-State honors finishing 36th in 1:23.81.
“She’s putting down some of the fastest times this year,” Ruttger said. “Our core kids have sought out opportunities to ski and race and we saw that over Christmas break.”
The other senior captain, Alli Krantz, and freshman Calia Chaney are two skiers Ruttger expects to ski well for the girls.
“I’d put Carsyn Krassas in the mix as well,” Ruttger said. “When she finishes and skis clean she’s right there.”
The Warriors only have two meets on the schedule with a third likely before sections.
“We are still making phone calls and emails to coaches who are in the same situation,” Ruttger said. “The issue we are having is administrations saying they only want them to compete within their conference. There is very limited opportunities to get extra meets in and it becomes a very complicated issue to get races in for our kids.”
Sections will look different as the plan is to split into subsection meets and advance from there. Ruttger worries that since his teams might not get as many meets it could hurt them in the subsection route to state.
“If we are only competing against a couple of schools, we get down to sections we can’t be intimidated,” Ruttger said. “We have to be confident in our past history and what we did in practice. We definitely have two teams with state potential.”
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.
2020-21 Alpine skiing
Head coach: Jim Ruttger, 32nd season
2019-20 boys finish: Fourth in Section 5
2019-20 girls finish: Third in Section 5
Returning Boys state entrant: Brandon Neifert
Returning Girls state entrant: Lauren Kalenberg, Erin Hoelzel
Boys captains: Brandon Neifert, Anthony Elsenpeter
Girls captains: Erin Hoezel, Alli Krantz
Assistant coaches: Tom Burton, Andy Rangen, David Ude
Volunteer coaches: Jeff Aga, John Linn, Courtney Neifert
Seniors: Erin Hoelzel, Alli Krantz, Carsyn Krassas, Anna Krieger, Madisyn Pederson, Francesca Stewart
Juniors: Elizabeth Reynolds
Sophomores: Morgan Krieger, Amanda Trusty
Freshmen: Calia Chaney, Lauren Kalenberg, Hannah Taylor, Aubrey Wiczek
Eighth grades: Teagan Hartwig, Hannah Kippes
Seventh grades: Rachael Reynolds
Seniors: Briston Domino, Anthony Elsenpeter, Brandon Neifert, Micah Wood
Juniors: Sean Baumann, Esten Hiebert, Logan Omberg
Sophomores: Gavin Hoelzel, Maxwell Krieger, Parker Linn
Freshmen: Peterson Breitbach
Eighth graders: Drew Cline, Derek Halbur, Emmett Johnson, Jagger Klecatsky, Garrett Krantz
Sixth graders: Ethan Hiebert
Tuesday, Jan. 26: hosts St. Cloud and Annandale at Mount Ski Gull 5 p.m.
Feb. 2: at Powder Ridge, Kimball, 5 p.m.