The Forest Lake boys Alpine team traveled to Giants Ridge in Biwabik Feb. 12 and captured second place in the program’s first state appearance in more than two decades.
The Blake School defended its state title with 162 points. Forest Lake, which scored 142 points, edged Orono for second place by one point. Suburban East Conference champion Stillwater placed fourth.
Junior Riley Schilling led the Rangers in 19th place, recording a time of 38.05 on his first run and 36.11 on his second. Senior Jacob Bush earned 26th place with times of 38.80 and 36.05.
Rounding out the scoring, ninth-grader Marty Longsdorf placed 35th with runs of 39.87 and 37.36, and junior Chris Wallner took 37th place with times of 40.04 and 38.12.
Sophomores Joe Alberg and Nathan Patterson also recorded solid runs and placed 42nd and 44th, respectively.
Bush said the team was thrilled with the outcome.
“Oh heck no, we didn’t expect this,” Bush said. “We were hoping for fourth place or at best, third, so this is amazing and exciting.”
With head coach Grant Lindemer assuming the role of meet manager during the state competition, assistant coach Collin Cassem took the lead with the Rangers for the day. Cassem said the boys put forth a stellar effort to stay standing during their runs, as many skiers fell due to slick snow conditions from the extreme cold and a tricky knoll on the state slopes.
“That spot took out some top skiers,” Cassem said. “It was a combination into a sweeping left turn into another combination—you had to be on time and on your game.”
Bush said it helped that the Rangers competed at Giants Ridge in four races during the season.
“It’s a really, really tough course, but every one of our skiers had a clean race,” Bush said. “We treated it like just another race, this is like our second home hill. We raced smart and hard and stepped it up when we needed to and that’s why we did so well—it was awesome.”
Bush is the sole senior on the Alpine squad, which makes for mixed feelings at the season’s close, Cassem said.
“It’s uplifting to end your high school career on such a good note,” Cassem said. “But it’s sad, too. You want to come back and be on this same team since you develop such a close relationship with the other guys. But right now, we’re going to go have a celebratory dinner and get back to normal life tomorrow.”