BIWABIK — Brainerd Warriors’ Zean Baker reached his goal.
The tandem of Maria Hauer and Mattia Hendrickson helped the Little Falls Flyers girls tie the program’s third-best finish at Thursday’s state Nordic ski meet at Giants Ridge.
Those three earned All-State honors by finishing in the top 25.
Baker skated to a 15:30 and closed out with a 16:03.9 classic for a pursuit time of 31:33.9 to place 23rd.
The four-time state meet participant was in ninth after the morning freestyle. Like last year, he faltered a bit in the classic, but held on to reach his goal.
“I felt quite a bit better about going into classic this year,” Baker said. “Last year, we spent most of our practices on lakes and had no practice on any hills. This year we had some really good practices so I felt prepared and pretty excited. Last year didn’t go so well so I’m really happy with how my classic went. I’m glad to have made the top 25.”
Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson called Baker’s freestyle the best of his life.
“This was just a great way to wind up his high school career,” Hanson said. “His classic was very solid and much improved from the last two years. He worked hard on that and he did a solid job of sticking with those top 25 guys.”
Hauer skated to an 18:07 in the morning to land in 21st place. Her classic time of 17:45.0 helped her pass six people and finish 15th overall. Hendrickson placed 24th, but was in 30th place after the skate race. She battled past six skiers with a classic time of 18:08.6
“I thought they had outstanding days,” said Flyers head coach Terry Wasland. “Maria came out with a very strong freestyle and then had an even better classic. I couldn’t have asked anything more from her. Her goal was top 25 and she certainly accomplished that. There was never any doubt.
“Mattia knew she had to pass five people after the freestyle to earn all-state and she came back with an excellent classic. She is probably a better freestyler, but we felt the course lent itself to someone with very good cardiovascular endurance. Mattia is in just great shape and with her competitive nature we had a good feeling she would move up.”
Chelsea Rutz placed 61st in 38:40.2 and Kaitlin Geisenhof finished 82nd helping the Flyers to their fifth-place 326. That ties the program’s third-best finish in the eight straight years the team has competed at state.
“We skied solid,” Wasland said. “Chelsea had an outstanding classic, which helped us move ahead of Hopkins. We knew we were going to fall anywhere between fourth and eighth. We figured the top three teams were untouchable, but fifth out of those teams is a credit to our young ladies.
“We had a lot of girls, who have been there a number of years. For the seniors they went out on a positive note. We’ll miss them and we’ll have to reload with younger girls next year, but we are very pleased with how our season went and the way things went today.”
Brainerd’s Allison Kosobud secured her top career finish at state with her 35th-place 37:02.3. She opened with an 18:30 freestyle and closed out with an 18:32.3 classic time.
“She’s been solid and consistent all year long,” said Hanson. “Her confidence has been growing season by season. She was the same solid Ali today. She put together two really consistently good races. She finished well.”
Brainerd senior Sarah Fairbanks placed 99th with a 20:13 freestyle and a 20:37.6 in classic for a 40:50.6 pursuit time.
Brainerd’s Gerrit Garberich finished 79th in his second state appearance and Noah Baker, also a return skier, finished 93rd. He was followed by Little Falls’ Matt Massmann, who placed 103rd in his first state meet.
Boys team scores: 1-Eden Prairie 378, 2-Ely 358, 3-Forest Lake 345, 4-St. Cloud Tech 342, 5-Irondale 341, 6-Hopkins 325, 7-Eagan 304, 8-St. Paul Central 258
Individual winner: Jakob Ellingson (Hopkins) 29:24.4
Brainerd results: 23-Zean Baker 31:33.9, 79-Gerrit Garberich 33:50.2, 93-Noah Baker 34:18.3
Little Falls results: 103-Mathew Massmann 35:15.4
Girls team scores: 1-Wayzata 365, 2-Duluth East 362, 3-Roseville 351, 4-Stillwater 331, 5-Little Falls 326, 6-Hopkins 234, 7-Burnsville 313, 8-Lakeville North 230
Individual winner: Anna Kubek, Duluth East 33:58.9
Brainerd results: 35-Allison Kosobud 37:02.3, 99-Sarah Fairbanks 40:50.6
Little Falls results: 15-Maria Hauer 35:52.0, 24-Mattia Hendrickson 36:28.6, 61-Chelsea Rutz 38:40.2, 82-Kaitlin Geisenhof 39:34.1, 91-Kendal Hendrickson 40:21.7, 114-Claire Gammon-Deering 42:48.6, 115-Amelia Kresha 43:16.6