BIWABIK - The Little Falls Flyers and Brainerd Warriors girls teams secured top 20 finishes Saturday in the 67-team Mesabi East Invite Giants Ridge - site of the upcoming state tournament.
The Flyers placed ninth and were led by Chelsea Rutz' 17th-place time of 19:43.8 in the 5.6-kilometer freestyle. Manon Gammon-Deering was 30th in the classic with a 21:22.2.
Brainerd's Sarah Fairbanks scored a 33rd-place 20:52.5 in the freestyle and Allison Kosobud a 22:51.1 in the classic to land Brainerd in 20th.
"Sarah Fairbanks has been fighting illness the past several weeks," said Brainerd co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan. "We were happy to see her come around for this race. This is the type of performances we have been expecting to see out of her."
The Little Falls boys were 16th with Ricky Devine crossing with a 25th-place time of 17:36.5 in the classic. Adam Kempenich was 47th in the freestyle.
Brainerd's Riley Nelson placed 41st in the freestyle with a 17:02.8. Zean Baker finished the classic course in 18:42.3 for 67th place.
"Riley Nelson was shooting for a top 50 place and ended up 41st in the (freestyle)," said Ryan. "In the classic races. Allison Kosobud was 65th out of 177 and Zean Baker was 67th out of 196. In this type of race every second can mean a place. If Zean had been 20 seconds faster he would have been 53rd and similar results for Alli.
The event, the largest Nordic ski race in the United States with more than 1,300 skiers, was delayed two hours because of weather.
"Out of the 20 Brainerd skiers racing Saturday eight had never raced at Giants Ridge," said Brainerd co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan. "It was a unique race where experience does help. Our first timers handled it well.
"With the weather and our young team we were satisfied with the results."
Boys team scores: (72 teams) 1-Hopkins 719, 2-Stillwater 718, 3-Wayzata 715, 4-Duluth East 704, 5-Minneapolis Southwest 694, 6-Ely 691, 7-Roseville 675, 8-Eden Prairie 673, 9-Irondale 639, 10-Rosemount/Eagan/Apple Valley/Eastview 631, 16-Little Falls 585, 38-Brainerd 439
Individual winner: Classic: 1-Kevin Bolger (Lakeland) 15:38.3; Freestyle: 1-Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie) 14:55.8
Brainerd results: Classic: 67-Zean Baker 18:42.3, 118-Ty Hadrits 20:17.1, 161-Noah Baker 21:57.2; Freestyle: 41-Riley Nelson 17:02.8, 115-Tim Nelson 19:11.5, 135-Gerrit Garberich 20:05.2
Little Falls results: Classic: 25-Ricky Devine 17:36.5, 40-Preston Zimney 18:09.8, 137-Ben Mushel 20:55.9; Freestyle: 47-Adam Kempenich 17:13.6, 83-Alex Houle 18:13.9, 93-Nathan Alman 18:32.3
Girls team scores: (67 teams) 1-Roseville 738, 2-Duluth East 712, 3-Stillwter 711, 4-Minneapolis Southwest 696, 5-Forest Lake 682, 6-Wayzata 669, 7-Lakeville North 668, 8-Ely 650, 9-Little Falls 646, 10-Hayward 638, 20-Brainerd 513
Individual winner: Classic: 1- ; Freestyle: 1-
Brainerd results: Classic: 65-Allison Kosobud 22:51.1, 96-Jenna Ruzich 24:01.4, 135-Emily Dumbeck 25:47.7; Freestyle: 33-Sarah Fairbanks 20:52.5, 57-Katie Montgomery 21:58.6, 141-Jennifer Murray 25:23.5
Little Falls results: Classic: 30-Manon Gammon-Deering 21:22.2, 45-Kaitlin Geisenhof 22:10, 147-Chloe Houle 26:40.1; Freestyle: 17-Chelsea Rutz 19:43.8, 26-Mattia Hendrickson 20:35.9, 137-Sarah Andringa 25:00.9
Next: Brainerd, Little Falls at Fergus Falls Invite 10 a.m. Tuesday.