Last season, the Warriors finished tied for 15th in the state competition, but weren’t happy with their individual performances.
Team manager and captain Lily Schaeffer struggled to finish in 61st place, which led the Warriors. The sophomore Addie Ryan, who was the third scorer, is also back, followed by Emma Balsley and Cally Robertson. Bridget Collins is also returning from last year’s state competition, but won’t be in the action early in the season due to her health.
Schaeffer posted a time of 28: 13.9 after winning the Section 8 competition. The veteran varsity finished the season with five individual wins, including a four-game winning streak, in just eight total events.
Nordic Skiing: Challenging Conditions Give Warriors A Disappointing State Finish
“Talking to her this year is an expectation for her,” said Brainerd co-head coach Chris Hanson. “She hopes to return to the state. I think this would be her fourth state competition in Nordic skiing, so she is no stranger to this place. She intends to return. It’s just how many kids can she bring with her. It’s exciting to rediscover his experience.
Ryan was 136th at State with a time of 21: 37.3. She placed 20th in the sectional competition, but went from Brainerd’s # 5 skier in sections to her # 3 skier in the state. She was also an honorable skier at the Central Lakes Conference last year.
“She has the advantage of having had a great mountain biking season,” said Hanson. “The crossover in terms of aerobic capacity and strength and even some of the balance and competitiveness of this mountain biking program is going to go really well for her. Like the other girls who got a taste of this state they encountered last year, they all have this desire to be back.
Emma Balsley finished 148th at State last season. She finished 29th in the section competition and also received honorable mention at all conferences.
“Emma is coming out of football,” Hanson said. “It’s really nice to have these kids who are multisport athletes and they are starting the season in good shape. They also work in the summer. It’s pretty obvious that the experience they’ve gained allows them to approach this season where they left off last year, which is going to help them.
Athletics: athletes from 3 sports take top honors
Cally Robertson came in 151st place at last year’s state meet. She finished 11th in the section competition and the No. 4 scorer to consolidate Brainerd’s team victory in the sections.
“Cally’s long time skiing experience will help him,” said Hanson. “She’s a soccer girl again. She is a hard worker, no matter what activity she is in, she trains and competes 100%. She is an asset and a quiet leader in every way.
Completing the list in the section will be a battle as the Women’s Warrior Team has 35 athletes this year. Early favorites include senior captain Allison Rice, junior Ellie Brown, who skied in state competition two years ago, and senior Abby Johnson. Hanson also pointed out that one of the younger skiers might argue that he deserves a spot.
“Any of them are welcome to push our experienced competitive kids and fight for those spots to complete the squad,” he added. “We only lost a few seniors last year and as good as they are they set the bar high.”
Nordic skiing for women: Schaeffer skiing towards history; Warriors ready for a solid finish
One thing Hanson and fellow head coach Mary Claire Ryan will need to factor in their roster decisions is the state’s new format this year.
“The new format will include a sprint event where we will designate two skiers to alternate a shorter course by scoring each other,” said Hanson. “They will do two loops of a shorter distance, about 1 to 1 mile and a half, and mark each other. It’s essentially an elimination where the fastest team is the champion. There will be preliminaries and finals. It’s kind of like the track would be.
“American skiing has garnered a lot of attention because it’s the event in which Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall of Minnesota won gold in the last Olympics. So it was a big problem. It’s a pretty exciting event. Work has been going on for a few years and now he will be part of the section and state meetings.
The addition of this new event means that Section and State events will now be two-day events. One of the chase races will be the first day, then the sprint and the other part of the chase race the next day. The same total number of participants will advance. The new event will not increase the number of state skiers.
Nordic skiing: the Warrior girls team and 5 Warrior boys progress
“It’s also going to provide us with a challenge because we were supposed to be doing this event last year and of course last year was a bit crazy and we were all just happy to have a ski season.
“It’s going to be interesting because we haven’t done a lot of sprints other than just training stuff. I think like a lot of other schools we’ve just started training so we’re really going to have to do a few races before we really know how we’re going to be and how we’re going to divide that. I know some girls fear going into a short sprint race. They know their strengths and weaknesses and we coaches know that too. “
Brainerd will have his first look at sprint races on Tuesday, November 30 at Detroit Mountain, as the Moorhead Sprints will be just a sprint event.
“In terms of duration, this new event is a radical change,” said Hanson. “In terms of the transfer it looks a lot different, but honestly I think our best long distance skiers, most of them will also be in the top four sprinters. Unlike the track, where your 100m person would fail. probably at the 2 mile I think in skiing you will see a lot more crossover. I think those distance skiers will be able to do sprints. We might have some who are more sprint specialists who might not do as well in distance events.
“We call it the sprint, but 1.3 or 1.5 miles, I mean that’s an average distance on the track.”
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at 218-855-5856 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Tuesday, November 30: Moorhead Sprints at Detroit Mountain
December 7: Detroit Lakes Invites to Detroit Mountain
December 11: invite Bemidji
December 16: Fergus Falls Invite or Mora Invite (depending on snow)
December 28: Brainerd Invitation to the Northland Arboretum at 10:00 a.m.
January 8: Mesabi East Invites to Giants Ridge
January 13: Detroit Lakes Invite to Maplelag
January 18: Alexandria invites
January 22: Bemidji invites
January 27: Little Falls invites to Camp Ripley
February 1: Central Lakes Conference Championship in Willmar
February 8-9: Section 8 finals at Maplelag
February 16-17: State meeting at Giants Ridge
List of warriors
Elders: Madeleine Almquist, Emerson Holcomb-Smith, Abby Johnson, Allison Rice, Lily Schaeffer, Lara Toffolet
Juniors: Emma Balsley, Emily Bastian, Ellie Brown, Gabrielle Chalupsky, Hannah Hayes, Katelyn Kennedy, Ashtyn Kubista, Grace Loney, Marta Magre, Gretchen Paysse, Cally Robertson
second year students: Alice Balsley, Molly Cartwright, Bridget Collins, Annika Gearey, Stella Hagen, Caroline Holcomb-Smith, Addie Ryan, Isabelle Smith, Anja Storbakken, McKenna Thesing
freshmen: Kaya Anderson, Mya Frank, Sophie Jensen, Elizabeth Rademacher, Isabella Simota, Brooke Wenz
eigth year: Annelise Baird
Nordic Skiing Girls
Co-Head Coaches: Chris Hanson, Mary Claire Ryan
2020-21 girls finish: First in section 8, tied for 15th in the state
Return State meets participants: Liliana Schaeffer, Addie Ryan, Emma Balsley, Cally Robertson, Bridget Collins, Ellie Brown
Girls captains: Schaeffer, Allison Rice
Assistant coaches: Eric Storbakken, Mike Knapp, Kevin Robertson, Owen and Heather Baird (volunteer assistants)