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Area Female Athlete: Flyers Hendrickson displays competitive edge

Kendal Hendrickson Year: Sophomore School: Little Falls Sport: Nordic skiing Highlights: Won the Bemidji Pursuit Invite Fifty five seconds can be a long time. That was the time difference Kendal Hendrickson needed to make up during the Jan. 24 Be...

Kendal Hendrickson
Kendal Hendrickson

Kendal Hendrickson

Year: Sophomore

School: Little Falls

Sport: Nordic skiing

Highlights: Won the Bemidji Pursuit Invite

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Fifty five seconds can be a long time.

That was the time difference Kendal Hendrickson needed to make up during the Jan. 24 Bemidji Pursuit Invite at Mt. Itasca in Coleraine. The odds were stacked against the Little Falls Flyers sophomore Nordic skier.

With a snowless winter, Little Falls has barely practiced on hills. At the end of those 55 seconds stood state meet participant Jenna Truedson of Bemidji.

Even Hendrickson herself didn't think she could do it - not right away at least.

"When I started I didn't think I would be able to at all," said Hendrickson. "(Truedson) is an excellent skier. I didn't think I had a chance. Then I started to get closer and closer until I finally thought I might have a chance.

"It wasn't until I was on the last lap and we were going up the biggest hill. My coach was right there and he said I could do this. He told me right where she was. I could see her and then I knew I was going to get her. She was so close."

Hendrickson, who credited her competitive nature to her dad Mike Hendrickson, who is the head wrestling coach at Little Falls, said she liked being the chaser. When the pursuit started, Hendrickson said she couldn't see her pray. When she passed her near the end, the feeling of accomplishment was immense.

"It was great because everyone was down there at the finish line," said Hendrickson. "Everyone was cheering for me. It was a great feeling knowing I could pull this off, that I had come from behind from such a big margin and win."

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Hendrickson is no stranger to success. She placed fifth in last year's Section 8 meet to help the Flyers advance to their ninth straight state tournament. Hendrickson finished 58th at state with a 42:59.8.

"Kendal has a lot of competitiveness and I think that comes from that wrestling father of hers," said Flyers head coach Terry Wasland. "She is a very competitive young lady. She attacked those hills. She was down 55 seconds after the first part, the classic. Kendal just gritted her teeth and said she was going after her. She just kept making up ground and it came down to the final half-kilometer and Kendal was determined to catch her.

"She did a great job of reeling her in. She is a quality athlete like that."

On Jan. 27, Hendrickson placed second in the freestyle portion of the Granite Ridge Conference championship at Powder Ridge in Kimball. Hendrickson finished in 10:41 helping the Flyers win the conference for the third time in four years.

Hendrickson said she was hoping to win the conference. She had beaten Mora's Sadie Peterson, who won the freestyle, during last year's section meet. She was hoping to do it again, but she said he won't mind doing it at the section meet again.

After all, Hendrickson's main goal is make sure the Flyers streak of state meets reaches 10.

"I feel a lot of pressure on myself to make sure we make it," said Hendrickson. "I can't let our team down. We went for nine years and we want to make it 10. That would be a big deal. It would be real hard not to go to state as a team. We're all trying to push ourselves harder just to make it to state. That's what we do."

The second-year varsity skier also runs track and field and attempts to run cross country, but sore knees prevents her from attacking the cross country course as vigorous as a ski course.

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"She's always had the competitiveness, but now she is starting to get a little stronger and older," said Wasland. "She's starting to learn what it means to train. When you're younger, you are just kind of out here having fun. Now she's learning how to train and how to be a leader among your peers.

"She skied at the Mesabi East Invite and placed 15th overall and that has the best skiers in the Midwest competing. She has really improved. She was in the 50s last year at state. I think she'll have a good shot to return and improve on that finish."

Other notable performances:

Basketball: Maggi Fellerman, Aitkin, finished with 21 points against Isle.

Shania Glenz, Verndale, scored 23 points against Pillager.

Grace Imdieke, Lake Region, finished with 22 points and eight rebounds against Fourth Baptist.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

Related Topics: LITTLE FALLS FLYERS
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