Nordic Skiing: Warriors head into postseason with a sweep at Flyer Invite

The Brainerd Warriors

Hastings-Knapp Sprint.jpg
Brainerd Warrior Lance Hastings , left, takes over for teammate Taite Knapp in the sprint relay race Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Little Falls Flyers Nordic Ski Invitational at Camp Ripley.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

CAMP RIPLEY — Annelise Baird raced to a first-place time of 34.25.1 to lead the Brainerd Warrior girls to first place and the Warrior boys also finished first for a Brainerd sweep Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Little Falls Ripley Invite at Camp Ripley.

“The interesting thing is the girls were winning without Annelise, but now we’re dominating with her,” Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said. “It was great to have our whole team back together. Coach (Chris) Hanson and I have been together for 13 years and this was probably one of the best efforts put out by a Brainerd Nordic team both boys and girls. They were outstanding today. It was so exciting to see this all come together.

Little Falls Flyers Sarah Wolbeck skis after being tagged by teammate Aliza Kresna while Brainerd Warriors Cally Robertson heads out after the exchange with Grace Loney Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Little Falls Flyers Nordic Ski Invitational at Camp Ripley.
Steve Kohls / Brained Dispatch

“The thing is, this is the last regular-season race. It’s a format exactly like sections and state. All 14 teams from our section were there, plus Mora. This was a huge race. Little Falls did an outstanding job of running it. It was really fast even with the cold temps.”

The Warrior girls landed three others in the top 10 individually as Ellie Brown placed sixth, Addie Ryan eighth and Isabelle Smith finished ninth.

Brainerd’s relay team of Grace Loney and Cally Robertson finished fourth.


Eli Knapp held off Little Falls’ Ethan Yorek by 0.2 seconds to place second and help the Warrior boys to a nine-point victory over the second-place Flyers.

“It was really exciting to see,” Ryan said about the battle for second place individually. “Coach Hanson and I are at different places on the course and I’m at the finish line and coach Hanson was screaming ‘breathing down his neck’ and Eli held him off and came in second. At about the 3K mark, Ethan was ahead of Eli on some of the big climbs.”

Knapp was followed by Gabe Hallgren in fourth, Elijah Hallgren in eighth and Owen Robertson in 10th

Brainerd’s relay of Lance Hastings and Taite Knapp posted a first-place time of 11:42.8.

“Last week, after we lost to Little Falls by seven points coach Hanson and I decided we needed to shake things up here a little bit,” Ryan said. “It’s been a great rivalry between Little Falls and Brainerd all year, but we wanted to mix it up so we shifted things around. Taite Knapp as an eighth grader last year was one of our top sprinters. He’s been doing really well at pursuit, but he has this mentality when it comes to sprinting that if I need to beat a guy he’ll ski faster. We reshuffled our lineup to try and find the best mix we could and I think we nailed it today. Lance and Taite were so solid.”

Connor Grant finished fifth for the Flyers with a time of 29:28.1. Little Falls’ relay team of Alexander Oberton and Edward Sobiech placed third.

The Flyer girls placed ninth with Elizabeth Ahlin placing 23rd individually and the relay team of Aliza Kresha and Sarah Wolbeck finished sixth.

The Wadena-Deer Creek boys finished ninth and the Wolverine girls placed 12th.


Boys results

Team scores: 1-Brainerd 388, 2-Little Falls 379, 3-Mora 351, 4-Bemidji 344, 5-Fergus Falls 337, 6-Moorhead 322, 7-Alexandria 266, 8-Sartell 264, 9-Wadena-Deer Creek 204, 10-St. John’s Prep 185, 11-TrekNorth 163, 12-Sauk Rapids 132, 13-Willmar 22, Detroit Lakes 18

Individual winner: Zaine Braaten (Moorhead) 28:22.8

Relay winner: Lance Hastings/Taite Knapp (Brainerd) 11:42.8

Brainerd individual results: 2-Elias Knapp 28:47.5, 4-Gabe Hallgren 29:14.3, 8-Elijah Hallgren 29:14.3, 10-Owen Robertson 31:27.8, 13-Joe Neumann 31:58.1, 16-Leif Hoffman 32:16.0, 17-Karlton Anderson 32:42.0, 18-Alex Lewica 33:06.2

Little Falls individual results: 3-Ethan Yorek 28:47.7, 5-Connor Grant 29:28.1, 9-Elliott Oberton 31:27.0, 15-Angus Rustad 32:14.7, 37-Chase Olsen 35:15.3, 46-Christian Oslund 36:27.4, 50-Camren Schwinn 36:53.9

Wadena-Deer Creek individual results: 31-Bjorn Brunsberg 34:16.5, 54-Grant Nelson 37:50.3, 81-Tayton Lehmann 48:02.0, 83-Owen Anderson 56:52.4

Brainerd relay results: 1-Lance Hastings/Taite Knapp 11:42.8

Little Falls relay results: 3-Alexander Oberton/Edward Sobiech 11:51.3

Wadena-Deer Creek relay results: 12-Jack Halvorson-Bucholz/Nate Heppner 18:35.9

Girls results

Team scores: 1-Brainerd 378, 2-Sartell 366, 3-Alexandria 340, 4-Moorhead 335, 5-Fergus Falls 319, 6-Detroit Lakes 314, 7-Mora 313, 8-Bemidji 306, 9-Little Falls 297, 10-Sauk Rapids 176, 11-Trek North 152, 12-Wadena-Deer Creek 139, 13-St. John’s Prep 136, 14-Willmar 45

Individual winner: Annelise Baird (Brainerd) 34:25.1

Relay winner: Regan Dewitt/Ella Simula (Bemidji) 13:51.1

Brainerd individual results: 1-Annelise Baird 34:25.1, 6-Ellie Brown 36:33.6, 8-Addie Ryan 19:51.2, 9-Isabelle Smith 20:12.8, 13-Katelyn Kennedy 37:42.9, 18-Bridget Collins 38:07.6, 26-Emma Balsley 39:12.0, 32-Ashtyn Kubista 40:16.3, 47-Caroline Holcomb-Smith 41:54.2

Little Falls individual results: 23-Elizabeth Ahlin 38:43.5, 31-Elise Yorek 40:06.7, 36-Ainsley Kresha 40:27.0, 48-Claire Anderson 41:54.4, 58-Isabelle Segler 44:32.1, 66-Molly Petrowitz 47:51.5

Wadena-Deer Creek individual results: 65-Lydia Oldakowski 47:41.6

Brainerd relay results: 4-Grace Loney/Cally Robertson 14:22.0

Little Falls relay results: 6-Aliza Kresha/Sarah Wolbeck 14:51.0

Wadena-Deer Creek relay results: 13-Julia Lunde/Anika Spicer 21:01.9

Next: Brainerd in Central Lakes Conference championship at Northland Arboretum 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2; Little Falls at Moorhead Invite Tuesday, Jan. 31.

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