Alpine girls earn best SEC finish in four years
Boys take championship and second-place at Giant’s Ridge
The Forest Lake boys’ alpine skiing team proved it means business over the weekend with a championship and second-place finish at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik (Minn.) out of 10 teams.
The Rangers captured the title in the sunrise race with 340 points, over Andover in second (313) and Osseo-Maple Grive in third (301).
Junior Jake Bush took first in a field of 89 skiiers with two strong runs combining for a time of 1:27.21 to earn full points for Forest Lake.
Sophomore Riley Schilling captured third in 1:28.63, while two more Rangers placed in the top 10: ninth-graders Joe Alberg (sixth) and Marty Longsdorf (10th) to total the team score.
The boys used a different lineup in the sunset race, with several of their top racers getting the afternoon off, but still placed second with 323 points behind Andover with 340.
Bush had another strong showing, placing third and just 1.6 seconds behind the medalist from St. Cloud. Longsdorf contributed his second top-10 finish of the day, this time in eighth, while ninth-grader Max Stangler (17th) and Nathan Patterson (25th) rounded out the scoring for the Rangers.
The one-two Ranger showing followed another second-place finish at a Suburban East Conference meet during last Tuesday’s competition at home-hill Wild Mountain.
The boys finished with 696 points, just 25 points behind a strong Stillwater team.
Schilling was the boys’ top performer, flying to a third-place finish, while sophomore Chris Wallner followed in 14th. Longsdorf (19th) and Mark Herman (20th) also had exceptional runs, with each of them placing in the top 20 for the first time in their careers.
Senior Jake Schwanz was solid again, placing 22nd and just edging out Bush, who combined a top-10 run with a fall to finish in 23rd. Alberg also had one strong run and a fall to finish 40th, followed by Espen Rodsjo (49th), Max Stangler (61st) and senior Bobby Beynon taking 63rd in his first varsity appearance.
Ranger girls upset conference foes
The girls also turned in some solid performances at Giant’s Ridge over the weekend by placing fourth in the sunrise race and third in the afternoon.
Brainerd captured the championship with 240 points, followed closely by Minnehaha Academy (233), St. Cloud (229) and Forest Lake with 224 points.
Senior Kellie Welch paced the girls in the morning with a 10th-place finish out of 70 with a combined time of 1:35.53, followed closely by fellow captain, senior Melissa Mackey in 11th (1:36.16). Eighth-grader Sydney Norcross took 18th while ninth-grader Maggie Longsdorf placed 21st to complete the Ranger scoring in the first race.
The girls earned a spot on the podium in the afternoon race with 260 points, just two points behind Minnehaha Academy and eight points behind the champion, Brainerd.
Norcross and Welch had strong races, placing in seventh and eighth, while Maddi Gemuenden took 15th and Sydney Halley finished in 26th.
Mackey, eighth-grader Eline Rodsjo and Longsdorf all had one run among the 15 fastest, but suffered mishaps on the other in an afternoon where brutal weather conditions played a significant factor.
During the home SEC meet last Tuesday, the skiiers celebrated their best results in the four years of the current conference-meet format.
The Ranger girls, who have never placed higher than fourth, finished second ahead of state powers Stillwater and East Ridge. Mounds View won the meet with 798 points, followed by Forest Lake with 751. Stillwater ended with 744 points while East Ridge had 697. The girls’ previous high-water mark was 658.5 points, set from last season.
Nearly each Ranger competitor performed their season best despite a treacherous hill due to rain freezing the slopes.
Welch again paced the team with fifth-place finish, while Mackey stunned the field with a ninth-place finish, taking 11 spots off her personal-best placement. Norcross, Longsdorf and Rodsjo each scored personal bests as well, placing 16th, 21st and 22nd, respectively.
Juniors Maddi Gemuenden (23rd) and Sydney Halley (26th) also placed in the top 30, with vastly improved Sam Kramer right behind in 31st place. Madeline Broom (44th) and Katie Goulding (62nd) also contributed important points for the top Ranger finish.
The skiiers were back in action on Tuesday night at Afton Alps for their fourth SEC meet, and next host the final conference meet of the year at Wild Mountain at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.