CAMP RIPLEY — Five Brainerd Warriors and Matt Massmann of Little Falls advanced to state and the Little Falls girls team continued its dominance at the Section 8 meet Tuesday.
Brainerd’s Zean Baker, Noah Baker and Gerritt Garberich qualified for the boys state meet and the Warriors’ Allison Kosobud and Sarah Fairbanks advanced to the girls state meet.
The Little Falls girls team of Maria Hauer, Mattia Hendrickson, Chelsea Rutz, Kaitlin Geisenhof, Kendal Hendrickson, Claire Gammon-Deering and Josie Lange captured its eighth straight section championship.
Zean Baker finished third in the boys race with a time of 33:01 and the defending section champion Brainerd boys team was runner-up to St. Cloud Tech. The Tigers scored 385 points to Brainerd’s 361. Tech’s Cory Rouw won the individual boys title.
“When Tech puts four boys in the top eight places, it’s hard to get past that,” Warriors co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan said. “They had a breakout race with Rouw. We’ll take our runner-up spot.”
Zean Baker finished behind Bemidji’s Kyle Sagedahl, who finished in 32:57, to earn his fourth trip to state.
“Zean actually started fourth for the pursuit portion, and moved up a spot,” Ryan said. “He had beaten Sagedahl before, but this is the section race, and some people have breakthrough days.
“Zean was in the mix. We couldn’t be happier with his overall season at this point. He’s been a leader for us. He’s placed well in all of his races. He was pretty satisfied at the end of the day.”
Noah Baker finished 11th at 35:02 to nab his second state trip, first as an individual.
“We told Noah if he couldn’t go as a team member, he had to go as an individual,” Ryan said. “He was farther back than Gerrit in the morning and passed people left and right. He had an awesome skate race to top off the day for him.”
Garberich finished one place behind Noah Baker in 35:09 and will make his second state appearance, his first as an individual.
“Gerritt had a little bit of a struggle,” Ryan said. “One of his poles came off on one of the climbs. He recovered from that, and he fell in the morning race. It was not an ideal day for him but he still did qualify.”
Brainerd’s Connor Gunsbury was 17th, Ben Hanson 18th, Evan Schreifels 28th and Sam Guida 34th.
“Evan positioned himself real well at this venue and did an awesome job,” Ryan said. “He classiced extremely well. He climbed the hills strong. He put two races together.”
Matt Massman finished 10th for the Little Falls boys and grabbed a state qualifying spot at 34:57. The Flyer boys team finished fifth via tiebreaking criteria.
“Matt skied probably one of the best classic races that he has all year,” Flyers coach Terry Wasland said. “He had a great result in the skate race. We were very thrilled Matt was able to qualify. We were hoping to get one more in there ... but I thought the boys team was solid all day long.”
Kosobud and Fairbanks each qualified for their third state meet. Each also earned academic all-state awards for a 3.9 or higher grade-point average.
Kosobud finished third at 38:29, trailing only Hauer (38:09) and Mattia Hendrickson (38:22).
“Alli was only 19 seconds back in the morning,” Ryan said. “She dueled (Callie) Smith from Mora — they went back and forth. Alli had an awesome classic race. There were two huge climbs, back to back, and our gals classiced very well. The key was to get in a good position to go into the skate portion of the pursuit.”
Fairbanks came in 12th at 40:54.
“Sarah’s had some ups and downs, with different things happening, but she had it all go well today,” Ryan said. “She put it all together. She had to bear down and not let anybody pass her and qualify. She’s one very happy gal.”
Rounding out Brainerd’s girls squad were Gabriella Haire (14th), Victoria Johnson (16th), Sara Whiteman (26th), Maren Hadrits (38th) and Anne Grabowski (39th). Brainerd finished 28 points behind champion Little Falls.
“After the morning, we were excited because we had three kids that were very tight,” Ryan said. “Johnson was in there and Gabby was right behind Sarah by seconds. Those gals did have an outstanding day. They were disappointed. They were close but they didn’t quite make it.”
Following Hauer and Hendrickson for the Flyer girls were Rutz (6th), Geisenhof (8th), Kendal Hendrickson (17th), Gammon-Deering (18th) and Lange (30th).
“We had a very solid day from our girls,” Wasland said. “We started out the day with the classic race putting us in great shape. It was a matter of following in the skate race and holding our positions, and we did that.
“We just have a real solid core of four girls that have been doing our scoring all year. And, we have some younger skiers coming up that are eyeing spots in the future. We were very happy with the day.”
The top boys and girls team qualified for state along with the next eight individuals not on the section championship team.
Boys team scores: 1-St. Cloud Tech 385, 2-Brainerd 361, 3-Mora 357, 4-(via tiebreaker) Bemidji 337, 5-Little Falls 337, 6-Detroit Lakes 308, 7-Alexandria 290, 8-St. Cloud Apollo, 9-Ottertail Nordic 174, 10-St. Cloud Cathedral 170, 11-St. John’s Prep 90, 12-Trek North 71
Individual pursuit winner: Cory Rouw (Tech) 32:44
Brainerd pursuit results: 2-Zean Baker 33:01, 11-Noah Baker 35:02, 12-Gerrit Garberich 35:09, 17-Connor Gunsbury 35:53, 18-Ben Hanson 35:59, 28-Evan Schreifels 37:38, 34-Sam Guida 38:41
Little Falls results: 10-Matt Massmann 34:57, 14-Brian McNamara 35:44, 21-Gunner Kleinschmidt 36:25, 22-John Gottwalt 36:31, 23-Isaiah Korver 36:43, 36-Ethan Crocker 38:57, 45-Michael Karl 40:02
Girls team scores: 1-Little Falls 387, 2-Brainerd 359, 3-Mora 357, 4-St. Cloud Cathedral 350, 5-Bemidji 338, 6-Alexandria 257, 7-Trek North 255, 8-Detroit Lakes 234, 9-St. Cloud Tech 218, 10-St. Cloud Apollo 216, 11-Ottertail Nordic 192
Individual pursuit winner: Maria Hauer (LF) 38:09
Brainerd results: 3-Allison Kosobud 38:29, 12-Sarah Fairbanks 40:54, 14-Gabriella Haire 41:33, 16-Victoria Johnson 42:43, 26-Sara Whiteman 44:17, 38-Maren Hadrits 45:58, 39-Anne Grabowski 46:59
Little Falls pursuit: 2-Mattia Hendrickson 38:22, 6-Chelsea Rutz 39:35, 8-Kaitlin Geisenhof 40:15, 17-Kendal Hendrickson 42:52, 18-Claire Gammon-Deering 42:53, 30-Josie Lange 44:46
Next: Brainerd in Central Lakes Conference meet at Fergus Falls 11 a.m. Friday; Brainerd, Little Falls in state meet at Giants Ridge, Biwabik, Feb. 14.