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Nordic Skiing: Storbakken, Warrior boys, girls teams ski to victories

Evan Storbakken (front) and Maxim Osborne (2) lead the Brainerd boys team to victory at Mora. Submitted Photo1 / 2
Lily Schaefer (10), Grace Erholtz (14) and Callie Knapp (9) push the Brainerd girls to the team title at Mora Saturday, Dec. 22. Submitted photo2 / 2

MORA—Brainerd's Evan Storbakken won the boys individual title and Warrior boys and girls teams captured titles on Day Two of the Mora Mini-Tour Saturday, Dec. 22.

Storbakken completed the 5-kilometer classic and 5km skate pursuit event with a time of 24:25 to help the Brainerd boys team to the title with 376 points, 15 more than runner-up Mora.

Gina Wasniewski's fifth-place finish in the girls race sparked the Warrior girls to first with 370 points, edging runner-up Alexandria by three.

Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said the boys race featured a sprint finish between Storbakken and St. Cloud Tech's Tennessee Scott-Lumbar who finished 2/100ths of a second behind Storbakken.

"Evan made up a 21-second deficit from the classic portion to win by a mere second in the final meters of the race," Hanson said. "Our next three guys finished well, with Nick Whiteman making a significant move in the skate pursuit portion to help the boys seal the win."

Maxim Osborne placed fourth, Ben Renner eighth and Whiteman 15th to round out Warrior boys in the top 20. Storbakken skied to the fastest skate time (11:27) and Osborne was the classic runner-up (12:57).

Teammates following Wasniewski in the girls event were Liliana Schaeffer in eighth place, Grace Erholtz 10th, Callie Knapp 11th, Sarah Nesheim 16th and Emma Storbakken 18th.

"The girls have chased a strong Alexandria team in skate races earlier this year and have steadily closed the gap," Hanson said. "On Saturday, with the longer pursuit format, our top four girls really did what they needed to do eek out a win by just three points.

"We can not skate with (Alexandria's) top two girls yet, but when Gina posted the second-fastest classic time overall in the first race, and the girls grouped nicely behind her, we knew we had a shot. Grace rebounded from a disappointing classic race to post our fastest skate leg and finish third. When she caught her teammates in the skate pursuit section, the girls did what they needed to, which was push each other and score as a group.

"Our non-scoring skiers, Sarah Nesheim and Emma Storbakken, played a critical role in finishing ahead of Alexandria's fourth and final scoring skier. It was truly an exceptional team effort."

On Day One Friday, Evan Storbakken and Osborne finished 1-2 in the final sprint race of the day. In the girls race, Nesheim placed seventh, Erholtz ninth and Emma Storbakken 12th.

"Returning to Mora Saturday for a pursuit race after a quality effort at the Mora sprints Friday, both boys and girls teams found the reserves to pull out a sweep," Hanson said. "We stretched ourselves a bit with two races in two days, the second being the 2-part pursuit race. With our very limited snow options, we took advantage of what the Mora Vasaloppet Ski center offered with their man-made snow loop.

"It was amazing to race on a lone ribbon of white through otherwise snowless fields and trees. The Mora 'snow farmers' deserve a lot of credit. We are grateful for the chance to get on some snow locally. Performing well in this busy week was like icing on our Christmas cake."

Brainerd had not raced since Dec. 11 at Detroit Lakes and had skied in only one other meet this season before traveling to Mora. Meets the Warriors were scheduled to attend Dec. 13, 15 and 20 were cancelled due to lack of snow.

"We also owe credit to the Mount Ski Gull and Paul Cibuzar for their support and help in getting us on snow and in classic tracks a few days a week," Hanson said. "Most of all, we are seeing some success because the kids are maintaining a great attitude despite challenging snow conditions."

Weather.com is forecasting 1-3 inches of snow Wednesday, Dec. 26, one inch Thursday, Dec. 27, and 3-5 inches Friday, Dec. 28, for the Brainerd lakes area. The Warriors are scheduled to host an invitational Saturday, Dec, 29, at Northland Arboretum.

"Our home meet depends on snowfall in the next few days," Hanson said. "If we see 6-plus inches (of snow), we might be able to make a go of it."

Mora Mini-Tour

Saturday Pursuit

Boys results

Team Scores (5km Classic, 5km Skate): 1-Brainerd 376, 2-Mora 361, 3-Coon Rapids 335, 4-Moorhead 332, 5-Winona 316, 6-St. Cloud Tech 272, 7-Alexandria 271, 8-Fergus Falls 158

Individual winner: Evan Storbakken (Brd) 24:25

Other Brainerd Results: 4-Maxim Osborne 24:58, 8-Ben Renner 25:31, 15-Nick Whiteman 26:02, 25-Mitchell Neumann 27:15, 27-Jacob Olson 27:45, 28-Nole Robertson 27:57, 31-Nicholas Porisch 28:05, 34-David Dewey 28:28, 40-Nicholas Schneider 30:15

Girls results

Team Scores (5km Classic, 5km Skate): 1-Brainerd 370, 2-Alexandria 367, 3-St. Cloud Tech 341, 4-Moorhead 338, 5-Mora 336, 6-Winona 327, 7-Fergus Falls 146

Individual winner: Kaisa Bosek (Alex) 27:31

Brainerd results: 5-Gina Wasniewski 29:41, 8-Liliana Schaeffer 30:00, 10-Grace Erholtz 30:02, 11-Callie Knapp 30:05, 16-Sarah Nesheim 31:01, 18-Emma Storbakken 31:06, 26-Mari Devine 33:13, 33-Jenna Lee 34:22, 34-Allyson Goeden 34:23, 38-Hannah Childs 35:12

Next: Brainerd Invitational, Northland Arboretum 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec 29.

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