Boys Alpine Ski: Warrior boys hope state trip No. 3 is in the books
The Brainerd Warriors boys Nordic ski team opens its season at Wild Mountain.
For just the second time in program history, the Brainerd Warriors boys advanced to state as a team.
With four of the six skiers from last year’s state team back, the hope is that state trip No. 3 comes quickly.
Returning from last year’s team that placed sixth in the state meet and won the Section 5 meet are Esten Hiebert, Sean Baumann, Parker Linn and Gavin Hoelzel.
“We’ve got a lot of talent on this squad so we can really have some great results as well,” Warrior head coach Jim Ruttger said. “That’s led by probably our strongest skier, who made the podium quite a few times last year. He’s a junior. Then Sean Baumann, Parker Linn and Esten are going to be right there. Any one of those four guys on a good night could have a podium finish.”
Linn is the top state performer returning. He placed 65th with a two-run time of 1:30.02. Linn finished 19th in the Section 5 meet at Wild Mountain with a time of 1:14.07.
“Both Gavin and Parker are coming off a week of training out in Colorado,” Ruttger said. “They had a chance to train with a lot of slalom. I think that will play off early season.
“Parker is just a naturally gifted athlete. He’s got great balance. He rarely falls and is able to stay on the course. He’s just one of four guys that if he steals clean and up to his potential he could be leading that pack of four.”
"Because of some of the success that we’ve had in our section this year for the first time we had three schools reach out to us and say, ‘we want Brainerd to come to our invite.’"
— Jim Ruttger
Hiebert placed 67th at state with a combined time of 1:31.91. Hiebert was Brainerd’s No. 2 skier in the section meet with a 1:03.44 that placed him fifth.
“When he completes two runs very few people can touch him,” Ruttger said. “He is really, really fast. This is his senior year and I think a lot of things are going to come together for him this year. Hopefully, he’ll be able to put two clean runs together at every race we go to. If that happens he’ll be a major point contributor all season.”
Baumann finished 82nd at state in 2:10.67. He was 31st in the section meet in 1:23.47.
With perhaps a chip on his shoulder is Hoelzel who was disqualified from last year’s state run. He was Brainerd’s No. 4 skier in the section meet with a time of 1:08.50. That placed him 12th behind graduated teammates Brandon Neifert, who won the section title, and Anthony Elsenpeter, who placed ninth.
During last year’s regular season, Hoelzel had two wins at Powder Ridge and a first at Powder Ridge.
“I think Gavin is probably one of the hardest-working kids on the team,” Ruttger said. “He and Sean have just put in an incredible amount of work in. Both during the offseason and just so far this year. They’ve really improved their strength and conditioning. I think we’ll see some of the results of that payout on the course this year.”
Garrett Krantz was last year’s most improved skier and Peter Breitbach was the junior varsity skier of the year. Senior Logan Omberg earned the Grant Madison Coaches Award. Juniors Max Krieger and Emmet Johnson will also figure into the mix.
“We have a lot of competition for that fifth and sixth slot,” Ruttger said. “We have some kids who have been coming up through this program for five years now that could have a breakout season. That will be interesting to see over the next few weeks. It’s just been fun to see the improvement from everyone, even our eighth- and ninth-graders.”
Unlike last season when Brainerd was struggling to find meets, the Warriors will enjoy three trips to Wild Mountain before competing in the Section 5 meet at that site. They’ll also get to see Giants Ridge prior to the state meet at the annual MLK Invite Jan. 15. Brainerd will also return to Welch Village and Buck Hill, two places they haven’t been to in a while.
“Section 7 is mostly the northern teams like Giants Ridge, Lutsen and Spirit Mountain and we’re not getting any invites from them,” Ruttger said. “That’s who we’ve been competing against for the majority of our years. Because of some of the success that we’ve had in our section this year for the first time we had three schools reach out to us and say, ‘we want Brainerd to come to our invite.’ We’re going to Buck Hill for the Lake Conference race, which has a bunch of powerhouse schools and they wanted to invite one other school to come in and so they invited us.
“Hopkins, their coach, reached out to us and said they wanted to come up to Brainerd and see what Ski Gull is all about. They’re going to come up for a practice one day and then a race the next day during Christmas break. That’s a new event on our schedule and I think it’s a result of some of our recent success.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warrior boys roster
Seniors: Sean Baumann, Esten Hiebert, Logan Omberg
Juniors: Gavin Hoelzel, Emmet Johnson, Garrett Krantz, Max Krieger, Parker Linn
Sophomore: Peter Breitbach
Freshmen: Drew Cline, Jagger Klecatsky
Eighth-graders: Derek Halbur, Ethan Hiebert
Seventh-grader: Beau Thuringer
Friday, Dec. 17: at Wild Mountain 9 a.m.
Dec. 30: Mount Ski Gull Triangular 10 a.m.
Jan. 6: St. Cloud Invite at Powder Ridge 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 7: Wild Mountain Triangular 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: Afton Invite at Afton Alps
Jan. 15: MLK Invite at Giants Ridge 9 a.m.
Jan. 21: Welch Invite at Welch Village 10 a.m.
Jan. 24: Wild Mountain Triangular 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 27: Lake Conference Race at Buck Hill 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 2: Brainerd Invite at Mount Ski Gull 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: Wild Mountain Triangular
Feb. 8: Section 5 meet at Wild Mountain 10 a.m.
Feb. 16: State meet at Giants Ridge