It’s a good thing Maria Hauer finished when she did.
The Little Falls Flyers junior skied to a first-place time of 20:04 in the quick pursuit style event at Friday’s Brainerd Invitational at Northland Arboretum.
She raced out to an early lead during the classic portion and built her lead during the freestyle segment to win by 25 seconds.
Hauer finished just in time.
“I felt really relaxed and smooth during the classic and it was nice,” said Hauer. “The transition definitely went better than in years past. I was just hoping to find the finish line because my eyes were freezing over. Then I was just hoping my teammates were right behind me to bring in a solid finish for our team.”
The five-year varsity veteran was one of four top 10 finishers for the Flyers, who captured the team title by 23 points over runner-up Brainerd.
Chelsea Rutz placed third with a 20:40, Mattia Hendrickson finished fifth in 21:55 and Kaitlin Geisenhof sixth in 22:00 for the Flyers. Claire Gammon-Deering finished 15th and Amelia Kresha 16th for Little Falls.
“The closer we are as skiers it’s harder for other teams to sneak in and get points,” said Hauer. “The top four skiers scored today so it was important for us to be close together.”
Brainerd’s Allison Kosobud finished fourth with a 21:08. She was happy with her place, but not the gap between her and the top three skiers.
“I would have liked to have been closer to that top pack,” Kosobud said. “There was a bigger gap than I wanted. Two years ago, at this same meet, I was right with the top pack and that’s what I was looking for today.
“I’ve been focusing on classic more than on skate recently. We have only had skate races up to this point so I wanted to try to focus on classic this past week to prepare for this race. I think the classic went fine. My arms got really tired, which carried over into the skate race.”
Kosobud’s finish helped Brainerd to second place as a team. Sarah Fairbanks secured ninth in 22:21. Gabriella Haire finished 11th in 22:42 and Victoria Johnson finished 14th in 23:40 for Brained’s scorers. Sara Whiteman finished 19th and Anne Grabowski 23rd for the Warriors.
“I was excited for this event,” said Kosobud. “Especially toward the end of the season, I like the pursuits because you have to be good at both techniques and it really shows the true skiers and how well they’ve been able to prepare and how well they’ve been able to train.
“I’m looking forward to doing both classic and skate at the end of the season.”
Girls team scores: 1-Little Falls 389, 2-Brainerd 366, 3-Mora 355, 4-Bemidji 335, 5-Alexandria 305, 6-St. Cloud Tech 268, 7-Ottertail Nordic 254, 8-Detroit Lakes 159, 9-Hibbing
Individual winner: Maria Hauer (LF) 20:04
Brainerd results: 4-Allison Kosobud 21:08, 9-Sarah Fairbanks 22:21, 11-Gabriella Haire 22:42, 14-Victoria Johnson 23:40, 19-Sara Whiteman 24:06, 23-Anne Grabowski 24:48, 35-Maren Hadrits 26:44, 36-Emily Nelson 27:24, 4-Katie Pernula
Little Falls results: 3-Chelsea Rutz 21:08, 5-Mattia hendrickson 21:55, 6-Kaitlin Geisenhof 22:00, 15-Claire Gammon-Deering 23:45, 16-Amelia Kresha 23:56, 27-Elizabeth Becker 25:17, 29-Chloe Houle 25:42, 38-Kristen Gotfredson 27:55