Nordic season heats up

Competition thick as postseason nears

The end of the nordic skiing regular season is fast approaching, and that means the Rangers are entering their final phase of training. Based on the results from the two most recent meets, coach Deno Johnson is confident his crew will be ready to go come the Suburban East Conference championships Feb. 1.

Forest Lake’s boys took second and the girls third at the MLK Pursuit at Trollhaugen on Monday. The 10K is essentially a warmup for the big conference meet.

The Ranger girls are seeing they will have their hands full come the postseason.

“Stillwater is looking very tough,” Johnson said. “We’ll be the underdogs for sections. We’re doing everything we can to get faster.”

Rocci Wohlk cruised to another first-place finish in 33:42, which was 1:08 faster than Stillwater’s Nora Gilbertson.

“It’s pretty obvious she’s hit a new level and deserves to be in the very top echelon of high school skiers already in ninth grade,” Johnson said.

Cassie Thobe earned Forest Lake 96 points by placing fifth in 35:46.

Stillwater’s fifth finisher took 11th to close the scoring for the Ponies. In 16th, Holly Winberg was the next Ranger to finish, which she did in 38:46. Kate Schaaf came in three spots later with a time of 39:31. Jess Greeley also scored, placing 22nd in 40:50.

Roseville came in five points ahead of Forest Lake.

First-year team member Leo Hipp has made an impact in the back end of the varsity lineup. (Photo submitted)

The Ranger boys took advantage of Stillwater missing a top skier and finished 14 points back of Roseville. Joe Jackson placed fourth in 30:30, behind three Raiders. Alex Kelley took sixth in 31:21 and Jacob Jankowski also made the top 10 by placing ninth in 32:15.

Tommy Babcock and Jack Ebel came in back-to-back in 13th and 14th place with times of 33:43 and 33:51.

Forest Lake also took part in a full-conference 5K skate race at Green Acres Recreation last Tuesday. This time, the boys took third and the girls second. Stillwater won both races.

Jackson’s time of 15:01 was second only to Roseville’s Sam Elfstrom, who finished in 14:54. Kelley, Jankowski, Babcock and Leo Hipp also scored for the Rangers, in that order.

Wohlk won the girls race, and Thobe was just 15 seconds back in second. Schaaf, Winberg and Greeley also scored, in that order.

The race-time temperature was 55 degrees.

“The skis were just disgusting at the end, with brown snow and brown slosh,” Johnson said. “It was just an amazing scene.”