Girls Alpine Ski: Warrior girls eyeing even more success
The Brainerd Warriors girls Alpine Ski team opens its season Friday, Dec. 17, at Wild Mountain.
A Section 5 victory and a sixth-place showing at the state meet were just a few of the highlights for the Brainerd Warriors girls team last season.
With three girls returning, including two-time All-State skier Lauren Kalenberg, the Warriors are primed for another memorable season. One thing that must happen is they have to stay healthy.
Despite recent success, Brainerd only has seven skiers on the roster with the seventh being seventh-grader Piper Grillo.
“In a way, it’s not too surprising,” Warriors head coach Jim Ruttger said. “We’ve seen the gap coming up over the last three or four years. There just were not a lot of girls coming into the feeder program. They’re going to get a lot of time on the course and they’re going to just about every race we have. We won’t be leaving anybody home. That’s good.
“And again, we have three returning from our section championship team. Lauren will be leading that group and she’ll be chased hard by Calia Chaney and Hannah Taylor will be right in there. Who rounds out that fourth, fifth, sixth skiers is really up for grabs right now.”
Kalenberg led the Warriors at the state meet with a 16th-place time of 1:23.82. She finished second in the section meet with a 1:04.85. She also won four regular-season races.
“She’s only a sophomore and she was an All-Stater as an eighth-grader — the youngest All-State skier we’ve ever had,” Ruttger said. “She improved on that finish last year at state. It’s a fickle sport though. You can be so good and you just slip up one split second and you’re out.
“She is really having fun with it. She’s got a great attitude. She definitely has a great skill set that will do nothing but get better as she gets more mileage.”
"We’re cycling them around and they are getting a tremendous amount of gate time. That’s going to be very beneficial for the rest of our regular season here.”
— Jim Ruttger
Calia Chaney was a two-time meet winner. She scored firsts at Mount Ski Gull and Powder Ridge. She was the No. 4 skier at sections with a sixth-place time of 1:08.24 and was 44th at state with a 1:29.19.
“She is very competitive,” Ruttger said. “She’s done well in every sport she’s been in. We like to think she enjoys skiing more than any other sport, but I think whatever she’s done she’s excelled at.
“These are smart kids, too, if you look at their grade-point averages. They’re all excellent students.”
Hannah Taylor was voted the most improved skier on the team last year and it showed as she was the No. 4 skier for Brainerd at state with a 57th-place 1:33.11. She finished 22nd at sections with a 1:27.30.
“She’s the one everyone on the team is looking up to,” Ruttger said. “She’s the only senior on the team. She’s taking initiative to make sure her teammates and younger kids are taking training seriously and working hard at it. Once you’ve tasted a section championship and advanced to state, that's just something you really want to work hard to repeat if you can. And these girls can.”
Ruttger believes that Brainerd will be a contender in every event they attend. One reason is the low numbers.
“One of the advantages that we have with only 24 kids on the roster, and you don’t have to go back too far when we were up around 60, so these kids are getting a lot of gate time,” Ruttger said. “There are no long lift lines. We’re cycling them around and they are getting a tremendous amount of gate time. That’s going to be very beneficial for the rest of our regular season here.”
Junior Morgan Krieger and sophomores Aubrey Wiczek and Amanda Trusty along with Grillo round out the Warrior roster. Wiczek was named the junior varsity skier of the year last season.
“Aubrey has been skiing really well,” Ruttger said.”Amanda is just starting to break out and Morgan will ski every race. We’ll have a lot of data on these girls by the end of the season.
“Piper has been really successful in the Alpine club races up through sixth grade. She’s coming in as a pretty gifted seventh-grader. She could give some of the older kids some competition for those open spots as well. We have kids that are really committed to this and have already put in a lot of time even though we have only had three practices on snow so far.”
Ruttger said his schedule is ambitious and Brainerd might now win as many races as they did last year, but they’ll be in every event. He believes it will be better preparation for sections.
“I think everybody, coaching staff and kids, our expectations is that we push this thing as far as we can and hopefully that’s a repeat of last year,” Ruttger said. “We’ll take section champs or runners up. Either one would get us back at state and that’s the ultimate goal.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Head coach: Jim Ruttger, 32nd season
2020-21 boys finish: First in Section 5, 6th at state
2020-21 girls finish: First in Section 5, 6th at state
Boys state entrant: Parker Linn, Esten Hiebert, Sean Baumann, Gavin Hoelzel
Girls state entrant: Lauren Kalenberg, Calia Chaney, Hannah Taylor
Boys captains:Sean Beaumma, Esten Hiebert
Girls captains: Hannah Taylor, Laurn Kalenberg
Assistant coaches: Tom Burton, Andy Rangen, David Ude, Eric Charpentiner
Warrior girls roster
Senior: Hannah Taylor
Junior: Morgan Krieger
Sophomore: Calia Chaney, Lauren Kalenberg, Amanda Trusty, Aubrey Wiczek
Seventh-grader: Piper Grillo