Matthew Brunkow, who is in his second year as the head coach of the Lakes Area Alpine ski team (Alexandria, Chokio-Alberta, Fergus Falls, Herman-Norcross, West Central Area and Wheaton), is hoping his squad can add to last season’s success.
Brunkow’s team finished fourth in a field of 22 schools at the Welch Village Invitational, and saw graduate Wolfgang Brink qualify for state.
Brink, from Wheaton, along with Patrick Backman and Evan Ellison of Herman-Norcross, graduated from last year’s squad.
Returning to the team this year are Herman-Norcross sophomores James Backman and Ross Ellison.
“Team depth is our boys’ strength,” said Brunkow. “After our top three racers, racers four through 10 are all close together and consistently making great improvements.
“We are a young [boys’] team. We have one senior this year, otherwise they are sophomores or younger. It’s a weakness this year, but will help the team’s future years.”
Returning to the girls’ team will be Madison Neulieb of Fergus Falls and Katie Gieseke of Alexandria, with Mikaila Norgard of Fergus Falls new to the squad.
“This will be the third and fourth year that these two girls have been racing varsity,” said the coach. “The lack of numbers – we have only two girls on the team – makes it hard to win as a team.”
Brunkow sees the St. Cloud Co-op as one of the top teams in the conference along with Brainerd/Pillager/Pequot Lakes, while Minneapolis Southwest, Wayzata and the Blake School will be at the top of the leaderboards in the section.
ALPINE SKI ROSTER
SENIOR – Riley Molerud, Fergus Falls.
SOPHOMORES – James Backman, Herman-Norcross; Ross Ellison, Herman-Norcross; Alex Donnelly, Wheaton; Eli Kracht, Wheaton.
FRESHMAN – Mason Gardner, West Central Area; Jack Schneider, Alexandria; Matthew Bittman, Alexandria; Russel Lindahl, Chokio-Alberta.
8TH GRADERS – Andrew Backman, Herman-Norcross; Trevor Stradskov, Alexandria.
7TH GRADER – Zach Hastings, Alexandria.
JUNIORS – Madison Neulieb, Fergus Falls; Mikaela Norgard, Fergus Falls.
SOPHOMORE – Katie Gieseke, Alexandria.