BEMIDJI — Zean Baker and the Brainerd Warriors boys team skied to first place in the Bemidji Invitational Saturday at Buena Vista Ski Area.
Baker, who won for the fifth time this season, paced the boys pursuit race with a time of 34:42 and helped Brainerd amass 384 points, 14 ahead of runner-up Bemidji.
“The guys team put themselves in a solid position after the morning classic race, close to Bemidji, and moved up during the freestyle pursuit portion to convincingly win the event,” Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said. “Zean led the group by closing a 14-second gap to Bemidji’s Sagedahl twins and cruised to a 7-second overall victory.”
Brainerd’s Gerrit Garberich was fourth, Noah Baker sixth and Connor Gunsbury ninth as the Warriors placed four skiers in the top 10 and won their fourth meet of the season.
John Gottwalt finished fifth, Matt Massman seventh and Brian McNamara eighth for Little Falls.
In the girls race, Maria Hauer of Little Falls cruised to victory with a pursuit time of 40:04 and sparked the Flyers to first place with 394 points.
Mattia Hendrickson (second), Chelsea Rutz (third), Kaitlin Geisenhof (fourth), Amelia Kresha (ninth) and Claire Gammon-Deering (10th) were other top 10 skiers for Little Falls.
Brainerd’s Gaby Haire finished sixth for the runner-up Warrior girls team, which scored 370 points. Sarah Fairbanks finished seventh and Tori Johnson eighth for the Warrior girls.
“The Flyer girls won the meet with a perfect score (top four finishers were all Flyers),” Hanson said. “Sara Whiteman finished 13th to complete the Brainerd girls team score. Alison Kosobud, our consistent top scorer, missed the meet for a college academic program.
“Little Falls looked solid, but the Brainerd girls, even without Ali, were the clear runners-up. All the girls skied well. They’re looking good approaching the conference and section meets.”
Saturday’s meet was the last of the regular season for Brainerd. The Central Lakes Conference championship, originally scheduled Thursday at Fergus Falls, has been moved to Tuesday due to weather-related concerns for Thursday.
“(Saturday’s) race schedule mirrored our section race set for Feb. 5 at Camp Ripley and allowed skiers a good opportunity to fine-tune their race strategy for the double-race format,” Hanson said. “It also afforded the coaches a good opportunity to make final decisions on section team rosters.
“I think the cold conditions all week helped us handle the zero-degree conditions. Classic skiing in the (arctic) weather last week made us tougher. And, toughness is what we want heading into postseason racing.”
Boys team scores: 1-Brainerd 384, 2-Bemidji 370, 3-Little Falls-366, 4-Detroit Lakes 347, 5-Otter Tail 159, 6-Hibbing 64, 7-Deer River 62
Individual winner: 1-Zean Baker (Brd) 34:42
Brainerd results: 1-Zean Baker 34:42, 4-Gerrit Garberich 35:56, 6-Noah Baker 36:56, 9-Connor Gunsbury 38:16, 12-Ben Hanson 39:24, 17-Sam Guida 40:43, 19-Evan Schreifels 40:52, 24-Robert Pike 42:36, 26-Sam Nesheim 42:54.
Little Falls results: 5-John Gottwalt 36:07, 7-Matt Massman 37:48, 8-Brian McNamara 38:15, 18-Gunner Kleinschmidt 40:46, 20-Ethan Crocker 41:08, 28-Michael Carll 43:29, 29-Nathaniel Warnke 43:36, 30-Seth Crocker 43:45, 35-Trenton Peterson 45:58, 36-Jacob Massman 47:27
Girls team scores: 1-Little Falls 394, 2-Brainerd 370, 3-Bemidji 339, 4-Trek North 313, 5-Detroit Lakes 236, 6-Ottertail 146, 7-Hibbing 82, 8-Deer River 68
Individual winner: 1-Maria Hauer (LF) 40:04
Brainerd results: 6-Gabriella Haire 43:44, 7-Sarah Fairbanks 44:20, 8-Victoria Johnson 45:39, 13-Sarah Whiteman 47:52, 21-Maren Hadrits 50:02, 22-Emily Nelson 50:32, 27-Katie Pernula 54:59, 28-Madeline Quast 56:27, 30-Erin Peterson 59:10
Little Falls results: 1-Maria Hauer (LF) 40:04, 2-Mattia Hendrickson 40:29, 3-Chelsea Rutz 41:07, 4-Kaitlin Geisenhof 42:34, 9-Amelia Kresha 46:00, 10-Claire Gammon-Deering 46:20, 11-Kendal Hendrickson 46:37, 14-Josie Lang 48:07, 17-Elizabeth Becker 48:48
Next: Brainerd in Central Lakes Conference championship Tuesday at Fergus Falls; Little Falls in Section 8 meet Feb. 5 at Camp Ripley.