Boys Nordic Ski: Strong showing gives Warriors something to brag about. Flyers’ Grant fourth-fastest skier

Five Brainerd Warriors and the Little Falls Flyers competed in the state boys Nordic ski race Friday, March 12.

Brainerd's Ryan Cady (No. 641) is racing against Minihaha Academy senior Soren Davidson Friday, March 12, at Giants Ridge during the state boys' Nordic ski meet. Bill Johnson / PictureDayPro!

Ryan Cady is going to make sure the world knows just how well the Brainerd Warriors did Friday, March 12.

Despite not counting as an official team, the five Warrior skiers who competed at the state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, comprised enough scores that they would have placed eighth, ahead of the two teams that upset them in the Section 8 meet last week.

Ryan Cady’s 35th-place time of 22.13.3 led the way.

Brainerd and Little Falls Boys Nordic Ski Gallery

“Some kids were saying that we placed eighth and it’s one of the best finishes Brainerd has ever done and no one will know it,” Cady said. “I think the world will know it. You can count the scores and see that we got eighth. It’s indisputable. It’s really cool.”


Nole Robertson improved on his finish from last year’s state meet to place 55th in 22:54.6. Mitchell Neumnn was 53rd and Eli Knapp placed 64th, which according to Brainerd co-head coach Chris Hanson would have been better than Bemidji’s eighth-place score of 303.

“With four guys typically scoring in a ski race, it’s easy to do the math,” Hanson said. “You look at the overall results, it’s pretty clear that had they scored us as a team, which I really wish they would, we would have been the top team in the section.”

Cady and his Warrior teammates watched the girls’ race Thursday, March 12, and gained some valuable knowledge about the course. Conditions were much more consistent and better for the boys’ event Friday.

“We watched them and it became very evident that the state is very competitive,” Cady said. “There are no slow people at the state meet. Everyone there has earned it and everyone there is very qualified. It’s highly competitive and you have to be on your game or you’re not going to do well.”

Hanson was out on the course during the competition. He was stationed at the peak of one of the more grueling climbs. He said he didn’t see many smiles as the athletes went past him.

“Usually you like to see smiles as they ski past you, but at that part of the race, we were seeing some steely glints in their eyes from determination. That’s what we were seeing in every one of the boys. It was nice to look at the watch and say, ‘Brainerd might not be on the podium of top 10 guys, but every one of our guys was coming through with a good race day for them.”

Jacob Olson was the fifth Warrior skier. He placed 112th with a time of 24.05.5.

Cady called it a storybook ending. In his first state meet, he was just nine spots out of All-State honors, which goes to the top 25 skiers.


“I think at this point of the season I was pretty tired,” Cady said. “We’ve been skiing hard for a few months now, but I knew I had to muster up the energy for one more and I just didn’t want to be satisfied. Sections went really well and my goal was to make it to state. I changed my goal once I made it to state. I wanted one more good race. I wanted to close the storybook well. I didn’t want to end it by saying I got 120th place at state. I wanted the storybook ending.”

Cady concluded by saying he was just grateful there was a season. He also had high praise for his Little Falls competitor Jackson Grant.

The Flyers senior broke his own school record by placing fourth in 20:29.6.

“It was kind of like an underdog story,” Cady said. “Just a kid from a small town doing really well. It’s just a cool story. I’m happy for him. You know he worked really hard and it just shows you don’t need to be rich and pay all the club fees and have all the best gear to be a good skier. Most of being a good skier is just hard work.”

Little Falls Flyers head coach Mattia Hendrickson said Grant shocked the competition. The senior isn’t a club skier and only competes with Little Falls. Hendrickson said when Grant crossed the finish line one of the three skiers that beat Grant said, “Oh, we haven’t heard of you before. Where did you come from?”

Roger Anderson of Robbinsdale Armstrong won the event in 20:11.1. Grant was 18.5 seconds behind. Wayzata’s Colin Freed was the top-ranked skier that Grant started his day skiing against. He finished second.

“He looked really good,” Flyers head coach Mattia Hendrickson said. “He went out with the guy that was actually ranked first. That’s who he was paired with and that was good for him. His goal was to just stick with him and when he came out of the woods for the classic race he had actually passed him and came out ahead of him. We knew he was in a good spot after that.”

Grant was fourth after the classic and maintained the spot through the skate, or second portion of the race. His finish helped the Flyers land in 11th place.


Ethan Yorek continued to surprise and impress as the sophomore posted a 30th-place time of 21:47.4. Connor Grant placed 65th and Edward Sobiech was the fourth skier for the Flyers.

“That was really exciting for Ethan and it’s not the typical pursuit so you know where you’re at when you finish,” Hendrickson said. “We were waiting anxiously for all the results to come in because he did actually finish in 25th place, which would have been All-State, but we had to wait and see all the results.

“Regardless, he had just an awesome day and he skied really, really well. He was so surprised that he finished 30th and how close he was to all-state.”

Team scores: 1-Minneapolis Southwest 416, 2-Forest Lake 413, 3-Wayzata 369, 4-Eden Prairie 359, 5-Robbinsdale Armstrong 352, 6-Duluth East 343, 7-Prior Lake 337, 8-Bemidji 303, 9-St. Paul Highland Park 293, 9-Maple Lake 293, 11-Little Falls 288, 12-Eagan 259, 13-Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 257, 14-St. Paul Central 250, 15-Rogers 230, 16-Irondale 134
Individual winner: Roger Anderson (Robbinsdale Armstrong) 20:11.1
Brainerd results: 35-Ryan Cady 22:13.3, 53-Mitchell Neumann 22:50.3, 56-Nole Robertson 22:54.6, 64-Eli Knapp 23:98.1, 112-Jacob Olson 24:05.5
Little Falls results: 4-Jackson Grant 20:29.6, 30-Ethan Yorek 21:47.4, 65-Connor Grant 23:08.1, 148-Edward Sobiech 25:51.9, 151-Angus Rustad 26:00.0, 156-Aiden Hagen 26:32.0

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Little Falls senior Jackson Grant (No. 613) races alongside Wayzata's Colin Freed during the state boys' Nordic ski meet Friday, March 12, at Giants Ridge. Bill Johnson / PictureDayPro!

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
What To Read Next
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Hibbing Friday, Feb. 3.
The Central Lakes College Raiders hosted Gogebic Community College Friday, Feb. 3.
The league would launch in summer 2024 and is polling interest in possible host cities.
The Brainerd Warriors Sports Boosters meet most Thursdays during the school year.