BLOOMINGTON — The Stillwater girls and boys Nordic ski teams were unable to keep pace with Forest Lake, but earned repeat trips to the state meet after each placed second behind the Rangers in the Section 4 Meet on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Hyland Park.
Forest Lake held off the Ponies 385-374 in the girls’ team standings while Mounds Park Academy was well back in third place with 326 points.
The Rangers enjoyed a more comfortable margin while topping the Stillwater boys 386-358, with Mounds Park Academy in third with 342 points.
The top two teams in each race qualifed for the state meet on Friday, Feb. 14 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. The meet was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, but pushed back one day because of frigid temperatures in the forecast.
It’s satisfying to be heading up north again this year to the state meet with both teams,” Ponies co-head coach Kris Hansen said. “Stillwater qualifies for the state meet frequently but we never take it for granted. It’s a battle every year. Forest Lake has strong teams for both girls and boys so we’re not disappointed to come away in the runner-up position. Our skiers raced well.”
The Stillwater girls also finished second behind Forest Lake in the section meet a year ago before winning a tie-breaker to edge the Rangers for third place at the state meet the following week.
Senior Libby Tuttle won the individual pursuit in a time of 27:00.0, which was nearly a minute faster than runner-up Jordan Parent (27:59.7) of Forest Lake. Tuttle, who will continue her skiing career at the University of Vermont next year, led Parent by about seven seconds after the classic race in the morning but roared to a convincing victory while posting a 48-second margin over Parent in the freestyle leg.
“Libby got off to a solid start in the classic race but she absolutely just ran away with the freestyle pursuit finishing nearly a minute ahead of the field,” Hansen said. “She skied the course completely differently than the other girls with enormous power and confidence.”
Forest Lake finished with four skiers in the top seven and put all seven of its skiers in the top 14 to secure the team title.
Junior Liv Myers was next for the Ponies in eighth place with a time of 29:58.1, followed by sophomore Louisa Ward (30:29.2) and senior Sydney Peterson (30:46.5) in 10th and 11th to complete the scoring.
“Liv also had a very good day,” Hansen said. “Waxing was tricky for the classic race but she really held herself together and never gave into frustration. In the afternoon, she really uncorked some impressive tempo and power in the skate race. She’s getting stronger and stronger each race.
“Louisa is learning to put together all the good stuff for each race and it’s fun to see that improvement. Sydney was recovering from some sickness — looking forward to seeing her race next week when she’s fully healthy.”
Junior Ana Weaver wasn’t far behind for the Ponies in 15th place with a time of 31:40.9 and freshman Lily Ward placed 19th in 32:06.7.
Kraftson leads Stillwater boys
Forest Lake, which is ranked No. 1 in the state by Skinnyski.com, delivered an impressive performance to claim the boys title after putting six skiers in the top 10.
Sophomore Adrik Kraftson finished fourth with a time of 24:40.8 to lead the Ponies, who will be making their sixth consecutive trip to state.
Mounds Park Academy’s Henry Snider took top honors with a winning time of 24:18.6 while Ethan Erickson (24:34.5) and Noah Erickson (24:36.9) of Forest Lake placed second and third.
Kraftson posted the fastest freestyle time by five seconds.
“Adrik was a little disappointed in his classic race but he kept his head in the game and moved up several spots on a very fast course in the afternoon,” Hansen said. “He’s a fierce competitor and did a great job taking advantage of every opportunity he could.”
Sophomore Jonny Saldin was next for the Ponies in eighth place with a time of 25:50.5 and senior Sam Hansen finished 14th in a time of 26:58.0. Senior Peter Grace completed the scoring in 19th place with a time of 27:52.0.
“Johnny was really one of the brightest spots for us today,” Hansen said. “He put together two very good races and moved up three spots in the afternoon. The strength of his racing has been on a very impressive positive slope this season.
“Sam and Peter both turned in two good performances, too, and really showcased the depth of the team.”
Sophomore Alex Hulteen (28:35.8) and junior Sam Tiedke (30:10.4) finished 22nd and 36th for the Ponies.
This marks the sixth year in a row Stillwater is sending the girls and boys teams to state.
Girls team standings
1. Forest Lake 385; 2. Stillwater 374; 3. Mounds Park Academy 326; 4. Irondale 314; 5. Mahtomedi 308; 6. Roseville 295; 7. White Bear Lake 273; 8. Mounds View 269; 9. Tartan 236; 10. St. Paul Como Park 198; 11. North St. Paul 61.
Top 5 (Classic-Freestyle—Pursuit)
1. Libby Tuttle (St) 14:44.3-12:19.9—27:00.2; 2. Jordan Parent (FL) 14:51.8-13:07.9—27:59.7; 3. Margo Nightingale (MPA) 15:04.2-13:15.8—28:20.0; 4. Amelia Hauer (FL) 15:30.3-13:16.3—28:46.6; 5. Makayla Fischer (Mah) 15:41.8-13:29.2—29:11.0.
1. Libby Tuttle 14:44.3-12:19.9—27:00.2; 8. Liv Myers 16:11.8-13:46.3—29:58.1; 10. Louisa Ward 16:46.9-13:42.3—30:29.2; 11. Sydney Peterson 16:36.3-14:10.2—30:46.5; 15. Ana Weaver 17:02.7-14:38.2—31:40.9; 19. Lily Ward 17:36.6-14:30.1—32:06.7; Piper Wilson 20:16.2-DNS.
Boys team standings
1. Forest Lake 386; 2. Stillwater 358; 3. Mounds Park Academy 342; 4. Roseville 323; 5. Irondale 315; 6. White Bear Lake 313; 7. Tartan 257; 8. St. Paul Como Park 249; 9. Mahtomedi 220; 10. Mounds View 206; 11. Liberty Classical Academy 163.
Top 5 (Classic-Freestyle—Pursuit)
1. Henry Snider (MPA) 12:49.1-11:29.5—24:18.6; 2. Ethan Erickson (FL) 13:15.2-11:19.3—24:34.5; 3. Noah Erickson (FL) 12:58.1-11:38.8—24:36.9; 4. Adrik Kraftson (St) 13:25.9-11:14.9—24:40.8; 5. Isak Nightingale (MPA) 13:10.6-11:30.3—24:40.9.
4. Adrik Kraftson (St) 13:25.9-11:14.9—24:40.8; 8. Jonny Saldin 14:03.7-11:46.8—25:50.5; 14. Sam Hansen 14:51.6-12:06.4—26:58.0; 19. Peter Grace 14:52.5-12:59.5—27:52.0; 22. Alex Hulteen 15:47.7-12:48.1—28:35.8; 36. Sam Tiedke 16:37.8-13:32.6—30:10.4; Tristan Smith 14:28.6-DQ.