The Alexandria girls Nordic ski team had a chance to prove itself against other top teams in the section field on Saturday in Brainerd with the Warriors, Cardinals and Bemidji being right near each other most of this winter.
Those three teams skied together in the afternoon at the Northland Arboretum in a meet that also featured Little Falls, Moorhead and TrekNorth as varsity skiers raced 5.5-K classic and skate races. The Cardinals proved to be the best of the group in that girls race as they edged Bemidji in second (376) and Brainerd (363) in third with a team score of 384.
“The girls team had two first-place finishes this week. That is an incredible confidence booster as both meets included classic skiing, which we haven't done so far this year in a race,” Alexandria head coach Jeremy Rapp said. “That is exactly where they want to be, as they haven't been first place at a meet since the middle of January.”
Kaisa Bosek led the charge with an individual win in 34:54. It was part of four top-10 finishes for Alexandria as Emma Reineke (fourth, 36:12), Jaelyn Miller (seventh, 37:24), Kamryn Coauette (eighth, 37:26) and Lauren Huber (13th, 37:57) showed off the team’s depth.
Dulce Bakker was next in line for the Cardinals in 19th place (38:54). Teresa Bitzan (23rd, 39:21), Lauren Englund (28th, 40:29), Amanda Bergerson (29th, 40:36) and Emma Hochhalter (44th, 43:50) rounded out the lineup.
“This week was the first time the girls have been in the state rankings, which is another confidence booster,” Rapp said of his team. “Whatever the case, with the way the races this year have been back and forth, we can't lose sight of the effort that needs to be put in to stay in that No.1 spot. I would certainly consider them in the top tier group in our section.”
Alexandria has come so close to qualifying for the state meet as a team, falling short by just one point in each of the last two years. This is a group that is hungry to get over the hump.
“As we wait to see what the qualifications for state will be, they know that sections and state are on the schedule and are ready for it,” Rapp said. “As some of these girls remember the excitement of going to state as a team, they also know the sting of losing by one point two years in a row. This team is definitely ready to overcome that.”
Boys making strides
The Alexandria boys finished fifth in the seven-team field at Brainerd with 275 points.
Ryker Bosek has led the way all season for the Cardinals, and he did again with a 28th-place finish overall in 35:12. Jack Struck was next in line in 32nd (36:02), and Bennett Wirth (34th, 36:25), Nathan Halstead (35th, 36:31) and Spenser Chinn (44th, 37:50) rounded out the team’s top five. Bryant Johnson (48th, 38:34) and Kyle Feldhake (49th, 38:47) also skied varsity.
“Although for many years the girls have been in the spotlight, this boys team has been a solid and fun group of skiers to coach,” Rapp said. “They put in the effort necessary to improve. I know from year to year, they all have had amazing strides in better technique and speed.”
Rapp said that the final results on race days are not always the best indicator of how much a group is making strides.
“They make a great contribution to the functions and traditions of what makes Alexandria a successful, growing program,” Rapp said. “Ryker Bosek continues to have some of the best technique I see at any race and has led the way all season for the boys team. And our group of varsity boys (Jack Struck, Bennett Wirth, Kyle Feldhake, Nathan Halstead, Bryant Johnson, Spenser Chinn) continue to improve and switch their finishing order often at meets. They enjoy being around each other and that is something you don't take for granted as a coach.”
Girls Team Results -- 1-Alexandria 384; 2-Bemidji 376; 3-Brainerd 363; 4-Moorhead 302; 5-Little Falls 255; 6-St. Cloud Tech 149; 7-TrekNorth 134.
Boys team results -- 1-Bemidji 385; 2-Brainerd 377; 3-Little Falls 353; 4-Moorhead 324; 5-Alexandria 275; 6-TrekNorth 193; 7-St. Cloud Tech 74