Area Female Athlete: A healthy Hendrickson is good news for Flyers

With a full season under her belt, could this be the year of Kendal Hendrickson? The senior on the Little Falls Flyers Nordic ski team is making it seem that way. Hendrickson posted a winning time of 14:58 to win the St. Cloud Cathedral Invite Ja...

Kendal Hendrickson

With a full season under her belt, could this be the year of Kendal Hendrickson?

The senior on the Little Falls Flyers Nordic ski team is making it seem that way.

Hendrickson posted a winning time of 14:58 to win the St. Cloud Cathedral Invite Jan. 3 She led a group of four Flyers, who all finished in the top 10, to the team victory.

"She came into the season very strong this year and she went out and took control of the race and really controlled it from the front," said Flyers head coach Terry Wasland. "She went out and took a sizable lead and then just skied steady throughout the rest of the race. She looked confident in that race. She did what she had to do."

Hendrickson's game plan for Cathedral-don't fall.


"It was very icy and slippery so I just didn't want to fall first of all because I knew that would set me way back," Hendrickson said. "I kind of took it cautiously at the beginning. We did three laps so that first lap I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to fall. After that, I just went out there strong and just wanted to get out ahead so I could do my thing."

Hendrickson secured the individual title at the Jan. 10 Detroit Lakes Invite with a time of 23:54. The Flyers finished first with three girls in the top 10.

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Kendal Hendrickson

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Little Falls
  • Sport: Nordic Skiing
  • Highlights: Won Cathedral and Detroit Lakes Invites

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"(Conditions) were very tough and there were a lot of hills, which we have not been able to train on here in Little Falls," said Wasland. "We spend most of our year on a soccer field. We're just now getting on trails, but the conditions were cold, windy and real dry snow. The snow wasn't packed and again there was a lot of hills. She came back and said that was a tough course.

"She has a lot of confidence and she's mentally strong so she just went out and tackled that course. She's a good example for our other skiers. We have some other seniors who have a lot of experience as well so that helps with the whole squad."

It was also the course where Hendrickson won last year's Section 8 individual title to help the Flyers advance to the state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. However, it was just Hendrickson's fourth race of her junior season as injuries kept her out of the lineup until the end of the season.


"DL was terrible," Hendrickson said. "The snow was pretty rough. It seems bad to say that the snow can affect you that much, but it really does. It's hard to put your mind past it to get over it and tough it out. I just had to work through that the whole time. It was never easy going. I was pushing myself the whole time to get through it.

"It was a very tough course for me last year at sections because I was just coming back from being injured. I just told myself that if I could do it last year without racing I can do it now with tough conditions. There was nothing holding me back because I knew I could do it."

So far this season, Hendrickson has won every race she's competed in starting with the Dec. 22 Detroit Lakes Invite. She posted a first-place 30:13 to beat teammates Christy Masog, who was second, and Molly Lange, who was fourth.

"As the defending section champion, I certainly expected her to have a good senior year," Wasland said. "She's motivated. She did some additional work this summer trying to prepare. She works hard in practice every day. It's good that she's having success. She certainly has been working at it."

Last season, Hendrickson led the Flyers to 13th place at the state meet with a 49th-place time of 37:15.8. As a sophomore, Hendrickson placed 85th with a 41:04.7. She was 58th at state as a freshman with a 42:59.8. Her first state tournament came as an eighth-grader where she placed 91st.

"I'm in much better shape than I was last year," Hendrickson said. "Last year, I was struggling to finish a 5K. Now I'm doing pursuits and have been doing very well in those. I'm in much better shape, but I'm not where I would like to be. Here in Little Falls, we haven't had snow up until last week so we haven't been skiing very much compared to other teams. Hopefully these next couple weeks will be good and we can be skiing a lot.

"I hope to win sections again and have our team win it, too, and go to state, but at state I hope to get top 25 and get all-state. I think every year something has been holding me back at state. There has just been something that has been out of my control so I'm hoping this year is my year."



Other notable performances:

Basketball: Jami Nelson, Crosby-Ironton, scored 24 points against Aitkin.

Grace Imdieke, Lake Region, finished with 22 points and 22 rebounds against Chisago and 21 points and 20 rebounds against St. Francis.

Shania Glenz, Verndale, finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and five steals against Browerville/Eagle Valley and 21 points and 10 rebounds against Bertha-Hewitt.

Gabby Martin, Pillager, scored 26 points against New York Mills, 24 against Wadena-Deer Creek and 32 against Barnum.

Kelsie Weite, Staples-Motley, finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Frazee.

Kelsi Stuckmayer, Pierz, scored 23 points against Paynesville.

Taylor Ehnstrom, Aitkin, scored 29 points against Hinckley-Finlayson.


Alyssa Semmler, Pine River-Backus, finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds against Browerville/Eagle Valley.

Shelby Adkins, Pine River-Backus, scored 28 points against Browerville/Eagle Valley.

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