To prepare for the upcoming State meet at Cable the Lakeland Nordic Ski team traveled to Madison last weekend to compete in the State Sprint Championships at Elver Park.

“The Madison sprints are for competitive fun, good preparation, and some bragging rights,” Lakeland head coach Erich Kern said.

Races were held on both Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2 and 3, with Saturday featuring skate style team relays where two-member relay teams competed. Each skier on a relay team had to ski two 1.5-km legs of the race.

Lakeland had top three finishes in both the boys and girls division. 

In the boys varsity relays, Lakeland’s Jake VanHefty and Cody Schneider took third overall.  

On the girls side, Lakeland’s Ashley Peterson and Mia Case took second overall, while Riley Mauzer and Kiera Rotar finished seventh.  

“Mia had a very good second leg and overtook third place in the last 100 meters to put our girls in second place for an exciting finish,” Kern said.

There were also mixed relay races where teams included one boy and one girl.

Brother and sister combo Jakob and Johanna Craig won the varsity mixed race for Lakeland. 

“Johanna and Jakob Craig skied very strong,” Kern said. 

In the JV boys relays, Lakeland’s Will Beede and Brock Metzger finished eighth overall.  

For the JV girls, Ashley Ullius and Stephanie Mauzer took second place, Kate Melms and Linnea Turner took sixth place, and Katie Tharman and Nina Starynski took eighth.  

In the mixed JV race, Lakeland won with the team of Aidan Graf and Celeste Teichmiller.   

There were also middle school relays.

Lakeland’s Casey VanHefty and Connor Simpson won the boys race, and Hakken Berklund and Nathan Zoch took sixth place.  

In the middle school girls division, Lakeland took first and second. Sylvia and Stella Meza won the race, while Seda Raspotnik and Elsa Shockley came in runner-up. 

Grace Kern and Casey VanHefty won the middle school mixed relays.

Sunday’s events

Sunday’s action featured an individual classic technique sprint event. To determine the field each individual skier was timed for a qualifying lap. The top 32 skiers based on the qualifying times were then divided into quarter and then semi final heats. The top skiers from the semi finals went into an “A” final, while the remainder went into a “B” final. There was no separation between varsity and junior varsity.

For the Lakeland boys, in the “B” final Jakob Craig took fifth place while Cody Schneider took seventh in the “A” final.

Ashley Peterson took third for Lakeland in the girls “B” final, while Kiera Rotar took fourth and Riley Mauzer took eighth.

In the girls “A” final Lakeland’s Mia Case took third while teammate Johanna Craig took fourth.

The middle school skiers only had an “A” final and Lakeland won the race in both the girls and boys division.  

Casey VanHefty won for the middle school boys team, while teammate Nathan Zoch took eighth.  

For the middle school girls, Sylvia Meza won the final, while teammates Grace Kern and Seda Raspotnik  came in second and third.  Stella Meza finished fifth and Elsa Shockley finished eighth.

The skiers dealt with very low temperatures that caused difficult, slushy terrain, but Kern was impressed with the way his T-Birds raced through it.

“Overall, a good showing for Lakeland,” Kern said. “Some fun races and wins. More important, good preparation for the State distance meet this weekend.”

The State meet this Saturday and Sunday will determine both the individual and team state champions.

Lakeland is a perennial contender for the title and Kern says his Thunderbirds are ready.

“The team is looking forward to this weekend,” he said. “As predicted, it will be tightly contested with several strong teams both boys and girls. Conditions will be dramatically different as will the course.”

The State meet will be held outside of Cable on the Birkie Trail on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is the freestyle race which also determines the order for Sunday’s classic race.    

The first race on Saturday is the high school boys freestyle race, followed by the high school girls. Middle school competition follows the high school portion. Racing begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday.  

On Sunday, the middle school competition is first, beginning with the boys at 9 a.m.  

High school competition is to begin after the middle school awards, at 11:45, with the boys classic pursuit race. The girls race will follow and awards are scheduled for 1:30 p.m.  

Jacob Friede may be reached at or