Mattia Hendrickson despises losing.
The Little Falls Flyers senior set a goal to advance to the Class 2A state cross country meet last fall.
When that failed to happen, she set her sights on her next sport — Nordic skiing.
“I was a little bit devastated after cross country so I was grateful to have as good a ski season as I have had so far,” said Hendrickson. “Being a senior it’s nice to put a cap on my high school skiing career. I’ve really improved this year. Over the course of the season, I’ve gotten gradually better so it’s been a really fun season. I’ve been up higher in the rankings than I have ever been in other years.”
Hendrickson clocked a first-place time of 15:12 in the Granite Ridge Conference 5-kilometer skate race Jan. 29. Little Falls Flyers head coach Terry Wasland said she would have finished better in the 1K sprint, but fell. Hendrickson rebounded to win the consolation title and finish fifth overall.
“She’s just really gotten faster and faster as the year has gone on,” Wasland said. “She’s gotten a lot stronger. You won’t find a more competitive young lady. As the competition gets a little more important so does her drive and motivation. She’s a real competitive young gal. The bigger the race, the better she skies.”
Hendrickson carried the momentum from the conference meet into Tuesday’s Section 8 meet. The four-year varsity veteran placed second behind teammate Maria Hauer with a pursuit time of 38:22. Her finish helped the Flyers return to the state meet for the eighth-straight year.
Hendrickson was in third after the opening classic portion with a time of 21:09. She had the fastest skate time of 17:13 to move into second overall.
“For the classic, I went out second and my coaches had a game plan and wanted me to finish in first by the end of the race,” said Hendrickson. “So I was able to do that and I’m not sure how it all worked out, but it went how we planned it.
“For the skate race, I knew I wasn’t far behind the next two skiers so I just had to keep working my way up to the front.”
In last year’s state meet, Hendrickson skied a pursuit time of 39:20.8 to place 71st and help the Flyers finish seventh.
As a sophomore, she skied a 39th-place 35:47.0 as the Flyers finished seventh. She was 83rd as a freshman with a time of 39:04.4. Little Falls was eighth that season.
“She doesn’t carry a lot of weight, but she’s gotten stronger with the weight she does carry,” said Wasland. “She’s quick and has a quick turnover. We know she has great conditioning because she does a lot of running in cross country and track and field and during the summer. Because of that she’s able to put forth a maximum effort for a long period of time.”
Hendrickson said skiing on a team with such high expectations is pressure-packed, but practicing against her teammates (Little Falls placed four skiers in the top 10 at sections) has been the best competition.
“I think that’s one thing that has made us so strong is we are all really close, but we are competitive among each other and that’s been good for us,” she said. “It does make it harder for us to stay close and competitive at the same time, but it’s made us stronger as skiers, for sure, because even in practice we’re competing against each other and that’s made us better.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Teresa Moenkedick, Verndale, scored 26 points against Henning.
Bethany Cressman, Lake Region, finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds against Fourth Baptist.
Vanessa Lane, Pequot Lakes, finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds against Park Rapids.
Chelsey Bonsante, Crosby-Ironton, scored 36 points against Grand Rapids and 24 against Aitkin.
Mikayla Michaletz, Aitkin, scored 23 points against Isle.
Meredith Silgen, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocks against Aitkin.
Nordic skiing: Maria Hauer, Little Falls, won the 1-kilometer sprint race at the Granite Ridge Conference meet.