For the first time in 22 years, Forest Lake is sending a team to the Alpine skiing state meet.
The Forest Lake boys team captured second place of 21 teams at last Tuesday’s Section 7 meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik with a total of 406 points, just behind the perennial power, Stillwater, which tallied 409 points.
Head coach Grant Lindemer said he isn’t surprised at his squad’s state-qualifying results.
“I said in November that I expected this and I meant what I said — I saw it coming and with the way the girls team is progressing, I see it for them, too, in the near future,” Lindemer said. “I know a lot of coaches say those things to pump their kids up, but I really mean it.”
Junior captain Riley Schilling set the stage in the morning with a stellar finish of fifth place in a field of 119. Senior captain Jacob Bush kept the team in the running with a strong 12th-place finish in the early race.
In the second leg of the two-run slalom race, Bush led the team with a seventh-place finish. Schilling took ninth in the final run. Schilling’s combined time earned sixth place overall, with Bush close behind in eighth. Sophomore Marty Longsdorf (30th place) and junior Chris Wallner (34th place) added the rest of the points needed for the team to clinch the runner-up spot. Sophomore Joe Alberg and Nathan Patterson also contributed solid runs for the state-bound squad.
“They have adopted a proper mental attitude to completely focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by background noise,” Lindemer said. “Plus they are exceptionally skilled at what they do and feed off each other’s passion for the sport — they are one big, happy family.”
Forest Lake was among eight qualifying teams heading to Giants Ridge on Wednesday, Feb. 12, to compete in the state championship. Other schools include: The Blake School, Orono, East Ridge, Edina, Chanhassen and Minnetonka.
The Blake School boys team returns to the slopes in Biwabik as last year’s champions with four returning skiers with state experience.
Lindemer, however, handed his coaching reins along to assistant Collin Cassem for the big show. Lindemer, who has served as a meet manager for the Minnesota State High School League for more than 20 years, decided to forego his coaching duties to best fulfill the duties of the state meet’s chief of race and manager title.
Lindemer isn’t concerned about his squad, though.
“They’ve been learning under my direction all season, and when you get to championship race day, you know what you know and they are perfectly capable of seeing the plan through,” he said. “They are also in very able hands with Collin. We will see how it goes soon enough.”
The last Forest Lake individual qualifiers included Shane Sampair and Tyler Brunjes in 2011 and Krista Kirschner in 2012.
On the girls’ side, a young Forest Lake team finished in 10th place at the section meet.
Senior Maddi Gemuenden led the Rangers in 33rd place out of 114 skiers after both races, followed by ninth-grader Sydney Norcross in 36th place. Ninth-grader Elli Rodsjo earned 41st place while senior Sydney Halley finished 53rd.
Mahtomedi took first place with 365 points, followed by Mounds View with 356 points.
The Rangers placed fifth in each Suburban East Conference meet this season in what Lindemer calls a consistent showing.
“It shows consistency, and that is important in this high school team sport,” he said. “Basically if you’re confident enough to complete your run, you will score each time. If you’re not consistent or crash, then you don’t score. They have an expectation of completion, not an expectation of crashing, so once those big races come up in the future, they’ll be ready. If you can’t finish, you can’t win.”