DETROIT LAKES-They're one short of a full team, but three Brainerd Warriors boys qualified for state at Tuesday's Section 8 meet.
Evan Storbakken placed sixth, Andrew Wasniewski ninth and Maxim Osborne 14th to return to the state meet. The results were bittersweet, however, as the goal was to return as a team.
St. Cloud Cathedral-Sartell claimed the top stop with Little Falls, led by Hunter Zupko's second-place and Colton Yorek's third-place finish, placing second. The top two teams and the top six individuals not on those teams advance to Giants Ridge for the state meet.
Storbakken was in fifth place after the morning freestyle and posted a combined time of 28:51.
"It was a little colder than what we would have liked, but that makes for easier classic waxing," Storbakken said. "We wanted to pound the skate course and be in good position for the classic race.
"I liked where I was sitting, but I wanted to bump up a few places and that just didn't happen."
Wasniewski jumped up five spots during the classic, or pursuit, portion to finish with a ninth-place time of 29:32.
"I knew at 14, with how the standings were, that I was going to state at that point, but I needed to hold that place," Wasniewski said. "I just told myself that I needed to pass as many guys as I could and I couldn't let anybody pass me.
"I feel pretty confident in both of the ski disciplines. I think that's crucial in order to be a good skier and to compete. I felt confident, but I also knew I had to give it my all as a senior. I didn't want this to be my last race."
Equipment issues made Osborne's finish more dramatic than it needed to be. The junior was 15th after freestyle and felt confident with his classic technique to move into the top 10. That was his goal before a broken binding forced Osborne to work a bit harder for his state spot.
"I have next year to make it up into the top 10," Osborne said. "I was pretty confident going in. I was just doing my normal prerace rituals to get ready for a race and when we got out there and I was only starting two seconds after the other guy in my lane I knew I could catch some people.
"I caught up to everybody and Andrew and I were leading a pack of guys, but right at the bottom of a hill my binding broke off my ski and so I got passed by that group. I had to run up to where coach (Chris) Hanson was and pop on another ski. I knew I had to hammer it and give every last drop of energy that I had until the end of the race to make it to state. Luckily I was able to do that."
Osborne beat out Alexandria senior Jackson Wichtendahl by two seconds to secure the final individual spot.
"It was back-and-forth between him and I for the last 2 to 2.5 kilometers," Osborne said. "I just knew I had to hammer it and coaches and teammates were standing along the side of the course yelling at me that I had to go and so I just powered through it and gave it 100 percent and I made it in."
Warrior co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan figured Cathedral would be a tough team, but not having seen that squad during the regular season made it hard to project how good they were.
"They surprised us quite a bit," Storbakken said. "We knew they would have one really good guy for sure, but their next two guys really stepped up today.
"It wasn't my best day, but I'm happy with it. It was a bummer because we had gone two years in a row as a team and we were hoping to make it three. It will be new going as just individuals this year."
The Flyer boys also received an 11th from Cormac Shanoff and a 13th-place finish from Jackson Grant to land in second as a team.
They'll be joined by Alice Foote and Molly Lange on the girls side. Foote finished fourth with a 34:18, while Lange secured the last individual spot with her 10th-place finish.
That meant Brainerd's Grace Erholtz missed state by just one place as she finished 11th in 35:26.
"That was very disappointing for her not to get back to state," Ryan said. "She had a great skate race in the morning and had positioned herself well."
The Warrior girls finished fourth with 339 points, but placed five girls in the top 25. Callie Knapp was 15th followed by Hannah Trtanj in 19th, Liliana Schaefer in 20th and Gina Wasniewski in 21st.
"I think for our team, we're only graduating two senior girls, they're young yet," Ryan said. "The majority of them are sophomores. They've gotten a lot of experience from last year and this year.
"Callie Knapp skied well and Hannah Trtanj, a senior, had an excellent race and then Lily Schaefer, who is just an eighth-grader, did exceptionally well for a first-section race, which can be very nerve-wracking.
"Sure, I would have loved to see them bump up, but they did a tremendous job."
Team scores: 1-St. Cloud Cathedral-Sartell 386, 2-Little Falls 375, 3-Brainerd 349, 4-Bemidji 345, 5-St. Cloud Tech 313, 6-Alexandria 310, 7-Moorhead 280, 8-Detroit Lakes 195, 9-Willmar 163, 10-St. Cloud Apollo 118, 11-Ottertail Nordic 98, 12-Trek North 75
Individual winner: Alex Nemeth (Cath) 26:51.6
Brainerd results: 6-Evan Storbakken 28:51, 9-Andrew Wasniewski 29:32 14-Maxim Osborne 30:11, 26-Ben Renner 31:59 35-Gus Robinson 32:41, 42-Nick Whiteman 33:29, 43-Alex Rice 33:55
Little Falls results: 2-Hunter Zupko 27:01, 3-Colton Yorek 28:26, 11-Cormac Shanoff 29:48, 13-Jackson Grant 29:59, 18-Colton Gottwalt 30:40, 23-Brett Gottwalt 32:23, 36-Jonah Ploof 32:50
Team scores: 1-Bemidji 361, 2-Alexandria 360, 3-St. Cloud Tech 344, 4-Brainerd 339, 5-Moorhead 338, 6-Little Falls 338, 7-St. Cloud Cathedral-Sartell 274, 8-Ottertail Nordic 239, 9-St. Cloud Apollo 176, 10-Willmar 167, 11-Detroit Lakes 150
Individual winner: Sadie Hamrin (Bem) 32:34
Brainerd results: 11-Grace Erholtz 35:26, 15-Callie Knapp 36:01, 19-Hannah Trtanj 37:04, 20-Liliana Schaefer 37:07, 21-Gina Wasniewski 37:13, 28-Sarah Hanson 38:50, 31-Emma Storbakken 39:14
Little Falls results: 4-Alice Foote 34:18, 10-Molly Lange 35:11.1, 16-Kate Corbett 36:07, 36-Madison Marquette 39:45, 39-Camilla Johnson 40:25, 40-Adrienne Kresha 49:27, 44-Caitlin Gustafson 41:03
Next: Brainerd, Little Falls in State Nordic Ski meet at Giants Ridge, Biwabik Feb. 15.