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Nordic girls own home ski meet

Alexandria senior Julia Sieling turns the corner to come down the stretch run toward the finish line at Andes Tower Hills on Tuesday afternoon. Sieling won the Cardinals’ home invite with a time of 20:35.(Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Alexandria girls Nordic skiers are in a similar position to the Cardinal boys this season with a group of athletes who hope to take the progress they have gained and produce as the meets get a little bigger down the stretch.

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Alexandria thought it would have a chance to see where it stacks up in the conference on its home course at Andes Tower Hills. Unfortunately, Brainerd wasn’t able to field a full team and St. Cloud Tech and Ottertail Nordic were not able to attend the race that was rescheduled from January 4.

“I feel like the conference teams should have come out today to see our course because it was a big surprise I know for the teams that came today to see all the hills and how the course actually was,” Alexandria senior skier Julia Sieling said. “It’s different. All five of my years in skiing, the home meet has been on a different course every year. This meet was definitely one of my favorite courses of all five years.”

Sieling has been a consistent threat for the Cardinals this season and nothing changed on Tuesday. She finished first in the 5K classic race with a time of 20:35. It was part of a season that has seen her finish in the top 10 at multiple events.

Sieling has a little extra motivation to try and wrap up her career with a trip to the state meet in February. She has been a fixture in the Alexandria varsity lineup for five seasons now and has two state berths under her belt.

Sieling went to state her freshman and sophomore seasons, finishing 105th both times in 2011 and 2012. She was hoping for a similar experience last season, but injuries to her back and leg forced her to pull out of the section meet after not getting off to a good start in the classic portion of the section race.

Sieling said it’s the classic technique that she is working on improving as she tries to reach the third state meet of her career this season.

“I’ve been improving, working more on my classic,” she said. “That’s my weaker technique, so I’m just working on that, and it’s been a challenge for the past five years. [The state meet] is definitely within reach. I just have to see how it goes.”

Head coach Jeremy Rapp feels that trip to state is right there for the taking if Sieling continues to build off her current pace.

“I feel that Julia has a legitimate position at going to state,” Rapp said. “Within section and conference races, she has consistently placed in the top 10 and a few times in the top five. Of course, that doesn’t mean she is a shoe-in for going to state, but it does give me very good hopes. I’ve seen her go to state two times and last season she didn’t make the cut, so she knows that the competition is stiff and that she needs to maintain her position to give herself a shot.”

Sieling and Lauren Hagstrom are the only two seniors on this girls’ team. They are a couple of the catalysts for a group that Rapp feels could surprise some teams on the conference meet at Andes Tower Hills on January 28.

“The other girls in varsity are setting themselves up well to be an underdog at conference,” Rapp said. “They know that they aren’t far behind Brainerd in hopes of getting the conference title, so I think that is a driving force.”

Sophomore Ellie Hurlen has stepped up on varsity this season after racing mostly on the junior varsity team a year ago. She finished third on Tuesday with a time of 21:56. Junior Becca Mateer was right behind her in fourth place at 22:20 and Hagstrom rounded out the top five in a time of 22:44.

“Ellie Hurlen has made big strides this season, racing mostly JV last season and now she has been consistently placing second for the girls,” Rapp said. “Becca has consistently been just a step behind Ellie but hasn’t let us down in any way. Lauren, a senior captain, has been a solid fourth spot on our team as well as being a solid glue for the chemistry on the girls’ side. Not far behind we’ve had Britt Hurlen and JeAnna Miller as well as Camille Johnson, Raessa Winkels and Margaret Donovan who are coming up in ranks, and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for them.”


ALEXANDRIA GIRLS – Sieling – first place, 20:35; Hurlen – third place, 21:56; Mateer – fourth place, 22:20; Hagstrom – fifth place, 22:44

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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