The Forest Lake boys nordic team handled the frigid temperatures just fine at Battle Creek Regional Park on Thursday, where it took first place in the Section 4AA race with 385 points. Stillwater took second with 368 points.
Junior Leo Hipp put on a show for spectators by going head-to-head with Mounds Park Academy skier Nick Gardner right out of the gates in the classic race earlier in the day. Hipp took second place behind Gardner by two seconds, but returned in the afternoon to beat Gardner in the skate event by 12 seconds, clinching the individual section title for Hipp.
Junior Quinn Duffy finished fourth overall in the field of 63 skiers in pursuit, followed by sophomore Tommy Babcock in fifth place. Sophomore Davis Long rounded out the scoring for the Rangers with ninth place. Junior Alex Richert and eighth-grader Ryan Mead also finished in the top 20.
This will be the boys’ 14th state appearance in 16 years. They placed third overall in Biwabik last year.
On the girls side, the Rangers improved on last season’s third-place finish by taking second place on Thursday with 356 points. Stillwater took first with 386 points.
Junior Rocci Wohlk left no question as to who the top skier in the section is, taking first in both the classic and skate events to clinch the individual pursuit title.
Sophomore Kate Schaaf will join Wohlk at the state meet again this season by earning 12th place out of 61 skiers.
Ninth-grader Miranda Overland and eighth-grader Jenna Parent both recorded top-20 finishes in 17th and 18th place, respectively.
The Rangers will compete at the state meet on Thursday, Feb. 13 at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik.