Both the boys and girls Nordic teams returned from the holiday break stronger and faster than ever.
The Ranger boys won with a total of 466.5 points, followed by Stillwater with 457.5.
Junior Leo Hipp started the new year with his first Suburban East Conference individual classic race title last Thursday at Lake Elmo Park with a time of 16:36. Junior Quinn Duffy came in right behind Hipp to tie for second place in 16:42.
Head coach Deno Johnson said the duo are a force to be reckoned with going forward.
“Leo was due for this and just goes from strength to strength to get it done,” Johnson said. “And Quinn is right on his tail. He is a slower starter but is very consistent, he gets up to speed, then continues to carry that consistency with him.”
Coming in sixth place in the field of 78 was sophomore Tommy Babcock with a time of 17:06, followed by sophomore Davis Long (17:45) in 10th place. Sophomore Ben Mahonen rounded out the scoring in 19:07, good for 21st place.
On the girls side, Forest Lake defeated SEC foe White Bear Lake to take second place behind Stillwater. The Ponies tallied 483 points, while the Rangers recorded 443. The Bears scored 433.
Sophomore Kate Schaaf placed fifth in a field of 83 in the classic race with a time of 19:50, followed by junior Molly Mead (21:37) in 12th place.
Ninth-grader Miranda Overland finished in 22:19, good for 16th place, while eighth-grader Kate Mahonen came in right behind Overland with a time of 22:38. Sophomore Lexis Wedell rounded out the scoring for the girls with a time of 23:41 in 26th place.
Usual frontrunner junior Rocci Wohlk traveled to Salt Lake City to compete in the United States Senior Nationals and will return in time for the Mesabi East Invite on Saturday.
Johnson said the girls are stepping up their game with hopes to earn a trophy for the top-two spots at sections, and the boys are sharpening their focus for another trip to state.
“The way our season breaks down is November and December are more laid back, a little more fun,” Johnson said. “Once the holidays are over, it’s the business end of the season. We’ve got to tighten our boot straps, run a tight ship, maintain our fitness levels and stay healthy. We’ve made nice progress and now is the time to show it.”
Forest Lake competed at Battle Creek Regional Park on Wednesday and next travels to Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik for the Mesabi East Invite Jan. 11.