Nordic skiing: Cardinal seniors earn trip to stateAustin McCoy and Sarah Peper have paced the Alexandria boys’ and girls’ Nordic ski teams all season long.
By: By Eric Morken, Sports Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
Austin McCoy and Sarah Peper have paced the Alexandria boys’ and girls’ Nordic ski teams all season long.
Their times throughout the year had head coach Steve Devereaux confident in their ability to represent the Cardinals at the state meet if they lived up to expectations at the Section 8 meet. The two seniors did just that last Wednesday, securing their spot at the state meet with solid performances at Camp Ripley.
McCoy and Peper led the Cardinal boys and girls to fifth-place team finishes. McCoy finished 10th overall in a total time of 34:09, while Peper took 11th in 38:49.
“I couldn’t even describe it,” Peper said of the moment she crossed the line. “Right after the classic race, I told Austin ‘It’s you and me. We’re going to go.’ After he finished, I just said, ‘now it’s my turn.’ He said, ‘just prove yourself. Give it your all and go for it.’ There was nothing to lose. We had the goal in mind that we were going to get there together.”
Both skiers had to make up ground going into their skate race. McCoy finished the classic in 18:27, while Peper came in in 21:18. That left them in 12th place and needing to gain ground in order to punch their ticket to state.
Both did so by closing out with a solid skate technique. McCoy finished his skate race in 15:42. Peper crossed the line in 17:31 to move up to her overall 11th-place finish.
Melissa Gromatka, Julia Sieling and Katie Lovrien rounded out the top four finishers for the Alexandria girls. Gromatka finished 17th overall, while Sieling and Lovrien took 29th and 39th, respectively.
Mitch Evink, Mike Erickson and Jimmy Lovrien came in behind McCoy. Evink finished 22nd, Erickson 23rd and Lovrien was not far behind in 26th place.
The trip to state is a fitting ending for the two Cardinal captains. Peper came into the season with that goal in mind. It is what drove her every time she stepped on the course.
“I thought about it every single meet that I skied in,” she said. “That was my No. 1 goal, just to make it to state. That was the goal that I wanted for my career and to show the younger girls coming up that it is an accomplishment, and they can make it there too through hard work.”
For McCoy, the accomplishment is one of perseverance. He did not know what to expect out of himself coming into the season. He wasn’t sure if he had the technique or the endurance to keep up with the best skiers in the section. He knew the only way to find out was to focus on getting better every time out.
“I had a lot more focus on technique,” he said. “I started focusing more on efficiency and just getting the whole thing a lot smoother, so that during the race, I’m not fighting myself more than I have to. I also stepped up in practices. I would try to get out there and ski for about an hour, where as last year, maybe it was only a half an hour.”
His times throughout the season were proof that his work was paying off. McCoy knew his times were right on the cusp of being state-qualifying times when compared to other top skiers in the section. He would need to be at his best for last Wednesday’s section meet, and that is exactly what happened.
“It definitely feels really good,” he said. “At the same time, it’s kind of scary because it’s kids that have been skiing their whole lives, and they are going to be out there too. But it’s really a cool thing.”
Both skiers will have a challenge on their hands when they take the course in Biwabik tomorrow, Thursday. Not only are they taking on the top skiers in the state, but they are doing it on one of the toughest courses in Minnesota.
Giants Ridge is an uphill climb almost the entire way on the 5-kilometer classic course. The skate course is a lot of the same for most of the way before a final downhill push to the finish.
McCoy and Peper both have similar goals once they get there. Finishing in a certain place is not of the utmost importance. The opportunity to finish their high school careers at the sport’s highest level is what matters most.
“I don’t have a goal for [where I want to place],” McCoy said. “I mainly just want to see what I can do. Maybe beat some other kids from our section. It’s just really cool to be out there competing against the best of the best.”
SECTION 8 MEET RESULTS
ALEXANDRIA BOYS – Fifth place; Individual results – Austin McCoy – 10th place – classic, 18:27; skate, 15:42; pursuit – 34:09; Mitch Evink – 22nd place – classic, 20:01; skate, 16:40; pursuit, 36:41; Mike Erickson – 23rd place – classic, 20:05; skate, 16:45; pursuit, 36:50; Jimmy Lovrien – 26th place – classic, 20:53; skate, 16:37; pursuit, 37:30; Matt Burow – 42nd place – classic, 22:23; skate, 17:00; pursuit, 39:23; Todd Johnson – 47th place – classic, 22:32; skate, 18:07; pursuit, 40:39; Tyler Johnson – 49th place – classic, 22:33; skate, 18:43; pursuit, 41:06
ALEXANDRIA GIRLS – Fifth place; Individual results – Sarah Peper – 11th place – classic, 21:18; skate, 17:31; pursuit, 38:49; Melissa Gromatka – 17th place – classic, 22:21; skate, 19:15; pursuit, 41:36; Julia Sieling – 29th place – classic, 24:31; skate, 20:15; pursuit, 44:46; Katie Lovrien – 39th place – classic, 26:51; skate, 23:23; pursuit, 50:14; Lauren Hagstrom – 41st place – classic, 28:23; skate, 23:00; pursuit, 51:23; Leah Stinson – 43rd place – classic, 28:17; skate, 23:35; pursuit, 51:52; Hailey Haugen – 44th place – classic, 28:52; skate, 23:28; pursuit, 52:30