Nordic Skiing: Both Warrior teams advance, Flyers boys win title
The Brainerd Warriors, Little Falls Flyers and Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines competed in the Section 8 Championship Wednesday, Feb. 8.
CALLAWAY — For the boys, it was a two-team race.
On the girls’ side, there was a dominant winner for the Section 8 Championship and that went to the Brainerd Warriors, who posted a 19-point victory to win the section and advance to the state meet Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Maplelag Resort.
Freshman Annelise Baird continued the section dominance for the Warriors, who won the sprint relay Tuesday. Baird won the pursuit with a time of 34:51.44, which was more than half a minute faster than the runner-up Mia Hoffman of Bemidji.
“She got a little surprised going out in the classic race where she was not the top skier,” Warrior co-head coach Chris Hanson said. “That’s kind of her strength is classic skiing and she was not the fastest classic skier. She had a little bit of motivation and a challenge, but she did not waste any time in the skate race making up the difference to those other top girls. It’s like she said, ‘Ah, don’t forget. I’m still here.’”
Baird’s win coupled with Ellie Brown’s eight-place 36:35.24 and Bridget Collins’ 10th-place 36:45.24 led Brainerd to the team title.
Brainerd’s Katelyn Kennedy finished 15th and Addie Ryan placed 16th to display Brainerd’s dominance as all five skiers finished in the top 20.
“Ellie and Briget were both just consistent and the depth on the girls’ side is a big factor. That should carry over when we try to represent Section 8 at the state meet.”
The boys' side was a repeat of most of the season as the Little Falls Flyers topped Brainerd by just four points for the section title. It’s the second-straight section title for the Flyers.
Little Falls scored 388 total points thanks to Ethan Yorek’s top pursuit time of 29:43.98. He was followed by Connor Grant who registered a runner-up time of 29:52.10. Elliott Oberton finished eighth for the Flyers’ total team points.
“The format closest to the state meets that we skied in are our meet, Bemidji’s, Little Falls’ and this section meet and Brainerd and Little Falls have now split those,” Hanson said. “We each have two wins apiece basically so I guess the state meet is going to be the rubber match for Section 8. We’ve been back and forth with them, but the nice thing is, when we go up there as a section we can represent it pretty well.
“We bring out the best in each other. It was tight. We went in with a lead, but we knew it was going to be pretty close.”
Brainerd’s Eli Knapp finished third with a 29:58.16 as Brainerd finished with 384 points. Gabe Hallgren placed sixth in 31:4367 and Owen Robertson was the final scorer with a ninth-place 32.47.86.
Eli Hallgren finished 10th and Joe Neumann 13th as Brainerd landed all of its skiers in the top 15.
“If the format scored another body then we would have been set,” Hanson said. “That’s a pretty impressive result to have your entire team in the top 15.
“All these guys skied strong and they know who they are trying to ski with and stay with and there is just no question when you’re looking at their eyes and their faces that they are giving everything they have. You’re yelling and cheering and screaming for them to go faster, but you know they can’t really go any faster because they’re already giving their all.”
The Warriors beat Bemidji, the third-place team, by 29 points.
The Little Falls girls finished eighth with Ainsley Kresha's 19th-place finish leading the way.
Wadena-Deer Creek finished eighth as a team. Bjorn Brunsberg led the way with a 28th-place time of 35:30.00. The Wolverine girls finished 11th.
Team scores: 1-Little Falls 388, 2-Brainerd 384, 3-Bemidji 355, 4-Fergus Falls 348, 5-Moorhead 347, 6-Sartell/Cathedral 336, 7-Alexandria 314, 8-Wadena-Deer Creek 259, 9-St. John’s Prep 259, 10-TrekNorth 253, 11-Willmar 248, 12-Detroit Lakes 36
Individual winner: Etan Yorek (LF) 29:43.98
Brainerd results: 3-Eli Knapp 29:58.16, 6-Gabe Hallgren 31:43.56, 9-Owen Robertson 32:47.86, 10-Eli Hallgren 32:55.96, 13-Joe Neumann 33:33.48
Little Falls results: 1-Yorek 29:43.98, 2-Connor Grant 29:52.10, 8-Elliott Oberton 32:03.49, 15-Angus Rustad 33:48.51, 23-Chase Olson 35:04.15
Wadena-Deer Creek results: 28-Bjorn Brunsberg 35:30.00, 41-Grant Nelson 39:27.37, 47-Tayton Lehmann 46:04.67, 53-Owen Anderson 53:51.39, 54-Charles Peterson 55:05.57
Team scores: 1-Brainerd 384, 2-Sartell 365, 3-Moorhead 354, 4-Alexandria 343, 5-Bemidji 339, 6-Fergus Falls 332, 7-Detroit Lakes 331, 8-Little Falls 312, 9-Willmar 250, 10-TrekNorth 205, 11-Wadena-Deer Creek 168, 12-St. John’s Prep 102
Individual winner: Annelise Baird (Brainerd) 34:51.44
Brainerd results: 8-Ellie Brown 36:35.24, 9-Bridget Collins 36:35, 15-Katelyn Kennedy 37:19.78, 16-Addie Ryan 37:29.52
Little Falls results: 19-Ainsley Kresha 37:52.39, 26-Elyse Yorek 38:48.12, 30-Claire Anderson 39:37.25, 32-Sarah Wolbeck 40:39.34, 39-Isabelle Segler 43:38.88
Wadena-Deer Creek results: 42-Lydia Oldakowski 45:49.55
Next: State Nordic ski meet at Giant Ridge, Biwabik 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15; 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16.