North girls, South boys reign supreme in state meet

The awards podium at the state Alpine skiing meet was full of Lakeville red.

For the second time in history, Lakeville Area Schools teams swept the championships at the state high school meet. Last week the Lakeville North girls and Lakeville South boys were winners at the state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. The first Lakeville sweep was in 2008, with the North boys and South girls winning state championships.

This brings the number of state Alpine titles for Lakeville schools to seven, including a three-year run by the Lakeville South girls team from 2008 to 2010.

North sophomore Peyton Servais was close to a second consecutive girls individual title but finished second by less than three-tenths of a second to South Suburban Conference rival Sophia Palmquist of Eagan. Top-10 individual finishes by Kyle Wentworth and John Olson led Lakeville South’s charge to the boys team championship.

Girls meet

Last week didn’t start well for a Lakeville North girls team with state championship ambitions. One of the skiers expected to be in the Panthers’ state lineup, Ashley Swenson, had injured her knee in training. On Monday of state week she learned the injury would keep her off skis for six weeks.

“Ashley is a senior, so that was really difficult for her and our team,” North coach Bob Boldus said. Seventh-grader Teagan Cunningham, who was going to be one of the Panthers’ state alternates, replaced Swenson in the lineup.

North’s top four of Servais, Jane Steel, Abby Hahs and Tera Cunningham put on a show. The four skiers finished in the top 34 individually. More important, each of the four finished ahead of her counterpart from state runner-up Stillwater as the Panthers opened a 14-point victory margin.

Servais hoped to win a second consecutive individual title but thought her first run wasn’t her best. Servais stood fourth after the first run but recovered on the final run to finish second at 1 minute, 14.52 seconds.

North sophomore Jane Steel had “a sensational day,” Boldus said. “She was our No. 3 skier during the season but at state was our No. 2 skier and finished 16th overall.”

Steel had a combined time of 1:21.54. Abby Hahs was 22nd in 1:22.13, with Tera Cunningham taking 34th in 1:23.62. Leah Hahs was 70th and Teagan Cunningham 80th individually.

Although it was the first state meet for most of the North skiers, the team went into state as a championship contender based on its victory in the Section 6 meet. Boldus spent the week between sections and state looking for ways to reduce the tension his skiers might have been feeling.

“At the state meet there’s a big group that hangs around at the top of the hill,” Boldus said. “One of our concerns was our skiers might start getting nervous if they spent a lot of time hanging around at the top of the hill, so we tried not to do that.”

Boldus said Servais might have been a little too tense on her first run. Apart from her attempt at going back-to-back individually, Servais understood the team needed two clean runs from her to have its best chance of winning. Last year Servais skied at state as an individual qualifier.

Next year it’ll be the Lakeville North team trying to repeat, and the Panthers look to have a good opportunity. All six of the girls who competed for North at state can return next season.

Lakeville South sophomore Erin Otteson finished 24th at the girls state meet in 1:22.50, earning a place on the All-State team.

Boys meet

Lakeville South coach Wayne Hill didn’t discourage the Cougar boys’ season-long goal of winning the state championship. He just pointed out that a lot of things along the way had to go right for the championship to happen, and the skiers couldn’t lose their attention to detail.

The Cougars closed it out with a three-point victory over Stillwater for the boys team championship. It’s the first boys Alpine team title for South to go with the four won by the girls team. It closed a season during which South went undefeated in conference meets and won the Section 6 championship.

The Cougars’ Wentworth skied consistently, finishing with a top-five time on both runs and taking fourth overall in 1:12.23. Olson was ninth in 1:13.58 and junior William Nida was 13th in 1:14.23. Joe Olson was 21st in 1:16.13 to also count toward the Cougars’ winning total of 160 points.

James Nida finished 63rd for Lakeville South. Connor Oujiri was 87th.

Stillwater also had two individuals in the top 10 and placed four in the top 22, ensuring a close race for the team championship.

The Cougars thought they were the team to beat this year. Next year, everybody associated with high school Alpine skiing might think that. John Olson is the only skier in Lakeville South’s top six who will graduate.

Lakeville North had one individual qualifier for state – eighth-grader Lou Brucciani, who finished 84th after not completing one of his runs.

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