Jacob friede/lakeland times

Pictured are the Lakeland boys of the 2019 runner-up state champion high school boys Nordic ski team, from left, Jakob Craig, Jake Van Hefty, Tony Holmes, Cody Schneider, and Forrest Dorsey.
Jacob friede/lakeland times

Pictured are the Lakeland boys of the 2019 runner-up state champion high school boys Nordic ski team, from left, Jakob Craig, Jake Van Hefty, Tony Holmes, Cody Schneider, and Forrest Dorsey.
CABLE — The Lakeland Nordic ski team proved once again last weekend it is one of the premier programs in the state.

At the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League state meet, held on the Birkebeiner trail outside of Cable, the Thunderbirds took team state runner-up honors in both the high school girls and boys divisions. Lakeland also had three individual top 10 finishes in the high school girls race and two in the boys race.

In addition, the middle school teams captured two individual state championships and one team state championship.

For the state runner-up girls team, Johanna Craig led the way.  She was the only high school Thunderbird to reach the podium, and did so by having the third-best time in the classic technique race, held on Sunday, finishing with a time of 24:04.80.

“It felt great to be on the podium,” Craig said. “It’s always very rewarding to podium after a long season of training and racing. It’s also super fun to podium with some of my ski friends that I’ve been racing with for years.”

Craig finished fourth in the overall pursuit. The classic race has a staggered start based Saturday’s freestyle race results, so final time on Sunday and final finish can differ. In the race on Saturday, Feb. 9, Craig finished fifth, giving her a combined time of 44:59.80. Craig said the two days of the event were drastically different. 

“The snow was very cold and slow on Saturday. You had to work for every bit of glide and the majority of the time I even had to free skate the downhills instead of going into a tuck,” she said. “Sunday was a pleasant temperature and there was a decent amount of snow falling. The snow was much faster and it was easy to kick up the hills. I personally think that Sunday was much more enjoyable to race in because the snow was moving well and it wasn't freezing cold.” 

Mia Case finished the weekend in sixth place, with a combined time of 45:33.70 for the two races, while teammate Ashley Peterson also landed in the top 10 with a total time of 48:06.40.  

“Very strong skiing from our top three girls just like last year. All three in the top 10 and all three coming back next year,” Lakeland head coach Erich Kern said. “Freshman Kiera Rotar, very impressive at 16th overall. Great performance from Kate Melms. Seniors Ashley Ullius, Riley Mauzer, Steph Mauzer, Celeste Teichmiller, Linnea Turner and Kayla Johnson all ended their final state ski meet with great weekend results. Many great efforts from all other girls who improved times from last year or completed their first state ski meet.”

Boys team

On the runner-up high school boys side, Cody Schneider finished the weekend in sixth place overall, with an eighth-place finish in the freestyle on Saturday. His time on Sunday was 20:09.6.

Jakob Craig finished the weekend in seventh place. In Saturday’s freestyle race he came in sixth with a 18:32.0. His classic time was 20:45.0.

“Outstanding performances from senior Cody Schneider and freshman Jakob Craig,” Kern said. “Forrest Dorsey was very impressive on Sunday to claim 14th. Tony Holmes shot out of the dark on Saturday in the freestyle and skied strong on Sunday to end up 15th overall. Consistency from Jake Van Hefty to end up 21st overall. Great races from Aidan Graf, Henry Shockely, and Brock Metzger, who all moved up from last year’s times. New skier Will Beede-Morgan did awesome at his first state meet.”

The team high school races were very close. Wausau United defeated Lakeland 16-18 for the state title. Blackhawk scored 30 points to round out the top three.

The top three teams for the boys were Ashwaubenon with 10 points, Lakeland with 24 and Peak Nordic with 28.

“One of our main goals for both boys and girls teams for this season was to be in contention to win state, and we were,” Kern said. “It is impossible to predict how other teams would perform and we knew we were right there. All I ask from the kids is to ski their hearts out. They did that, and we ended up with two runner-up team finishes. Not too shabby.”

Middle school team

The middle school team did pretty well themselves.  

Lakeland’s younger teams took the team championship in the middle school girls division. They also boasted the girls second and third place overall pursuit finishers in Sylvia Meza and Grace Kern. Meza was the state champion in the classic race with a 14:08:35. 

For the boys team, Casey Van Hefty was the state champion in the overall pursuit. He won both Saturday’s freestyle and Sunday’s classic to take the title with a combined time of 23:06.8.

“Overall, Lakeland did great,” Kern said. “You can’t really ask for any more than what the kids did.”

Next up for the ski team is a race this weekend in Minneapolis.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.