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Boys Nordic Skiing: Baker returns for fourth shot at state

Nordic skiing Co-head coaches: Chris Hanson, Mary Claire Ryan 2013-14 girls finish: Conference champions, fifth in Section 8. 2013-14 boys finish: Second in conference, third in Section 8. Returning state meet boys participant: Noah Baker Girls c...

Brainerd’s Noah Baker (right), Annie Grabowski, Gaby Haire, Lydia Herath and Sara Whiteman and the rest of the team take off from the starting line during a Nordic ski practice at the Northland Arboretum. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Brainerd’s Noah Baker (left), Annie Grabowski, Gaby Haire, Lydia Herath and Sara Whiteman and the rest of the team take off from the starting line during a Nordic ski practice at the Northland Arboretum. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Nordic skiing

Co-head coaches: Chris Hanson, Mary Claire Ryan

2013-14 girls finish: Conference champions, fifth in Section 8.

2013-14 boys finish: Second in conference, third in Section 8.

Returning state meet boys participant: Noah Baker

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Girls captains: Sara Whiteman, Anne Grabowski

Boys captains: Noah Baker, Ben Hanson, Connor Gunsbury

Assistant coaches: Eric Storbakken, Jan Costello, Diane Meyer, Clint Baker

Volunteer coaches: Kent Montgomery, Sharon Pike, Laura Hanson, James Larson

Noah Baker pursues his fourth straight state meet appearance later this winter and the Brainerd Warrior hopes to attain his highest finish in his final prep season.

In 2014, Baker finished third in Section 8 before being disqualified at state. He finished 93rd at state in 2013 and 106th in 2012.

"He's fired up to get back there obviously and leave his mark his final year here as a captain and senior," Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said. "Having been there before and knowing all about the course and the course marshalls he has expectations to do well.

"He's been our fastest skier for a while now. In practice, on the earliest snow we've had in a long time, he's still not only among our fastest skiers, but one of our hardest workers. He's a great example."

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Baker heads a squad of 15 Warriors who hope to improve upon last year's third-place section finish. This season, the Minnesota State High School League has expanded the state meet from just the section championship team advancing to state to two teams and the six fastest skiers not on those teams.

"Some very good teams were not qualifying for state," Hanson said. "Some teams would put four individuals in the state meet and those four would outperform other section teams that qualified under the old system. This way the top two teams in the state might be in the same section. It's only fair they get that representation correct."

With six of seven members of last year's section team returning, the Warriors appear to have a shot to grab one of those two section slots as they prepare to open Thursday, Dec. 4, at the St. Cloud Cathedral Invite. Back are Connor Gunsbury (13th in the section), Ben Hanson (14th), Evan Schreifels (18th), Robb Pike (21st) and Sam Nesheim 22nd.

"All of these guys have been skiing for a while," Chris Hanson said. "They were all active in offseason training and competition. Some were soccer and football players and a lot are runners. When I was on the bike trails by myself this fall sometimes I could hear these little ticking sounds behind me and here comes some of our guys on rollerskis and poles.

"They're willing to do sport specific work on their own in addition to everything else they've got going on. That's promising. A lot of these guys we've watched from junior high to now as sophomores, juniors and seniors. They've grown up into young men.

"They were good skiers as youngsters. Now they're good, big, strong skiers."

Warriors roster

Seniors: Benjamin Hanson, Connor Gunsbury, Noah Baker

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Juniors: Robb Pike, Landon Bruggeman

Sophomores: Evan Schreifels, Luke Norquist, Mac Brink, Sam Nesheim, William Schultz, Zach Herrlich, Gabe Reguse

Freshmen: Josiah Wood, Alex Rice, Andrew Wasniewski

Warriors schedule

Dec 4, at St. Cloud Cathedral Invite 3 p.m.

Dec 11, at St. Cloud Apollo Invite 3 p.m.

Dec 13, at Bemidji Invite 10 a.m.

Dec 16, at Detroit Lakes Invite 10 a.m.

Dec 16, at St. Cloud Cathedral Invite 3 p.m.

Dec 18, at Grand Rapids Invite 10 a.m.

Dec 23, Brainerd Invite at Northland Arboretum 10 a.m. (pursuit)

Jan 3, at Alexandria Invite 1 p.m. (classic)

Jan 6, at Fergus Falls Invite 1 p.m. (skate)

Jan 10, Mesabi East Invite at Giants Ridge, Biwabik, 10 a.m.

Jan 15, at St. John's Prep Invite 10 a.m.

Jan 19, Little Falls Invite at Camp Ripley 10 a.m. (pursuit)

Jan 24, at Bemidji Invite 10 a.m. (pursuit)

Jan 27, Central Lakes Conference Championship at Alexandria 1 p.m.

Feb 3, Section 8 at Camp Ripley 10 a.m.

Feb 12, State at Giants Ridge, Biwabik, 10 a.m.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

Noah Baker
Noah Baker

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