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Nordic ski team sets bar high

The Alexandria boys Nordic ski team is returning an experienced group of athletes with high hopes of reaching the state tournament as a team this February.

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Alexandria’s Carl Branch skies during a meet on January 30, 2014. Branch is back after making a trip to state last winter. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria boys Nordic ski team is returning an experienced group of athletes with high hopes of reaching the state tournament as a team this February.

Head coach Jeremy Rapp said the boys team has plenty of letter winners back from last year, including state tournament participant Carl Branch. The girls team also returns some experienced skiers looking to lead the way.
“Our strength is our leadership from our captains, Becca Mateer, Raessa Winkels, Carl Branch and Eric Branch, and assistant captains Ellie Hurlen and Dalton Struck,” Rapp said. “We are also bringing an experienced varsity boys team with a very large target on going to state.”
The girls team is a younger squad with only two seniors, but Rapp said they still plan on being competitive in the conference and section.
“We also have a girls team that is still young, that is gaining steam and eyeing being competitive with the top teams in the conference and sections,” Rapp said. “Our returning skiers have been hugely helpful in dealing with the influx of new skiers that we are dealing with.”
The ski team has a total of 56 members, which Rapp said gives them the largest team in 10 years. He and assistant coach Taylor Ellison said they have their hands full with the large team.
“In dealing with the large numbers between two coaches it has been quite a challenge, as well as never starting a season with snow before,” Rapp said. “That actually threw us coaches [for] a loop.”
Rapp expects the top teams in the conference to be St. Cloud Tech, Brainerd and Alexandria.
In Section 8, the top section teams should be St. Cloud Tech, Brainerd, Little Falls, Bemidji and Alexandria. On the girls side, St. Cloud Tech, Brainerd, Little Falls, Bemidji and St. Cloud Cathedral should stand out from the rest of the field.
(This story was accidentally omitted from the winter sports preview section in the November 28 issue of the Echo Press).

TEAM ROSTER

SENIORS – Raessa Winkels, Becca Matter, Dalton Struck, Eric Branch, Carl Branch
JUNIORS – Tom Whiting, Nick Dee, Grant Rudolph, Matt Bittmann, Casey Call, Ryan Moorman, Natalie Minnerath, Gracie Schroeder, Kristen Schell, Sara Wegner, Ellie Hurlen
SOPHOMORES – Jack Anderson, Ryan Maier, Kelby Peterson, Camille Johnson, Britt Hurlen, JeAnna Miller, Syri Williams, Maggie Pfeffer, Margaret Donovan, Bridget Amundson, Chanel Heese, Elena Rodriguez, Thea Breitenmoser, Mia Jacobs
FRESHMEN – Matt Eng, CJ Schlosser, Jackson Wichtendahl, Ivan Brever, Austin Becker, Keaton Gruber, Patrick Lovrien, Kyle Vandertuin, Olivia Hagstrom, FranSis Olmscheid, Allie Walter
EIGHTH GRADE – Noah Struck, Noah Huss, Colin Barten, Spencer Johnson, Josh Levasseur, Hanna Tesch
SEVENTH GRADE – Cameo Neumann
SIXTH GRADE – Kamryn Coauette, Emma Reineke, Georgia Reemts, Kaisa Bosek, Jack Struck, Matthew McKay, Nathan Halstead, Mathias Brever
COACHES – Head coach – Jeremy Rapp, third season; Assistant – Taylor Ellison

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