GIANTS RIDGE— As they hoped. That, in short, describes how Ely Nordic skiers performed at last Friday’s state ski meet— and it’s a sign of just how strong the Timberwolves …
GIANTS RIDGE— As they hoped.
That, in short, describes how Ely Nordic skiers performed at last Friday’s state ski meet— and it’s a sign of just how strong the Timberwolves have been all season. The fourth-ranked Ely boys team proved they were up to their top-five billing.
“The boys were happy with fourth place,” said Ely Head Coach Paula Anderson, noting that it represented an improvement on their sixth-place finish in 2019.
It helps, of course, to have one of the state’s strongest Nordic skiers on your team in junior Jasper Johnston, who qualified as of Monday for the Olympic Junior Nationals, set for March 7-14 in Truckee, Calif.
“Jasper’s goal was top five as an individual and he was fourth, which was fantastic,” said Anderson. “He skied two great races.” His combined time of 29:02.1 was less than 40 seconds off the first-place mark posted by Henry Snider of Mounds Park Academy.
The girls team, who finished ninth overall, had their own standout in ninth-grader Zoe Devine, who has been surging all season, and finished a remarkable 12th overall as an individual with a time of 35:04.7. “Finishing 12th as a ninth grader is a pretty awesome result,” noted Anderson, who said Devine’s time was not really a surprise given the progress she’s made all season. “Over these last few weeks I’ve felt like she doesn’t really know what she can do. She’s still young and obviously responds very well to the training and taper at the end,” said Anderson. With plenty of time to improve, Devine seems likely to be another top contender in state competition for the next three years. She’s likely to face continued competition, however, since two other ninth-graders finished in the top 15. “That’s unusual in Nordic skiing,” said Anderson. “This sport doesn’t favor the younger athlete. You need to be strong and powerful with lots of training base.”
According to Anderson, the state meet can often be overwhelming, particularly for younger members of the team who haven’t been there before. “The first-timers were pretty overwhelmed by it all and tried to ski their best, but it’s very hard the first time because everyone is FAST and you get passed a lot.” While still young, Anderson said Devine showed real poise as a returning racer in state competition. “She was quite composed and handled herself as a seasoned, much older racer. I was very proud of her,” said Anderson.
Returning Ely skiers all improved on their previous times from last year’s state competition. And some Ely skiers saw dramatic improvement even during last week’s competition. Senior Nate Netifee, for example, was in 52nd place at the end of the first round of skiing. “But Nate had an exciting second race,” said Anderson. “He moved 12 places, to 40th place.” His finish, at a time of 31:01.2, proved the second-best Ely boys finish. Fellow senior Raif Olson was about thirty seconds behind, with a final time of 31:36.9, good for 60th. Sophomore Gabriel Pointer was right behind, finishing 65th with a time of 31:46.0. Other Ely boys competing included Jon Hakala, with a time of 33:55.4, and Micah Larson at 34:24.0.
Among the girls, senior Brooke Pasmick finished second among Ely skiers, with a time of 37:53.2, good for 64th place. Cedar Ohlhauser notched a time of 39:09.8, Phoebe Helms finished at 39:28.7, Kalyssa Eilrich finished at 39:41.6, Julia Schwinghamer finished at 40:06.9, and Ana Bercher finished at 40:52.4.