AFTON — If the entire team can’t qualify for state, five out of a possible six individuals is the next best thing.
The Brainerd Warriors missed advancing their entire girls team to state by 1/100th of a second, and one-half point, in the Section 5 meet Thursday at Afton Alps.
But, after girls from champion Minnetonka and runner-up Orono were excluded, the 10 fastest individuals not on either team also qualify for state. And, five members of that delegation of 10 were from Brainerd.
The Warriors’ state delegation will include Hannah Moen (10th place), Ashley Fitterer (12th), Grace McGuire (13th), Emily Aga (17th) and Payge Fitterer 18th). All five will be making their first trip to state.
Alex Stone, Brainerd’s top seed, fell on her first run and eventually finished 59th.
Warriors coach Jim Ruttger was proud of how the girls team responded, knowing it would have to pull together after Stone fell and finished 73rd on her first run.
“The girls could have figured they were done for the day, they watched it unfold, and they decided not to let that happen,” Ruttger said. “They knew they had to ski as well as they possibly could the next two runs and they just got it done.”
After the first run, the Warrior girls were one point out of second place.
“We knew going into our second run that these girls would have to ski like they’ve never skied before to try and catch Orono, and they did a great job,” Ruttger said. “Hannah moved up from 13th her first run to ninth her second run. Ashley and Grace were bunched right in there.”
After her fall, Stone recovered to have the 10th-fastest second run but her overall time was 1:42.52.
“Obviously, we’re sad that Alex didn’t get to go,” Ruttger said. “She has been a rock at the front of our lineup all year. It was so uncharacteristic of her to go down. In the regular season, in eight meets, that’s 16 runs, she never faltered.
“To not get section runner-up but we’re still sending five girls to state, I’m so proud of those ladies. They did an incredible job today.”
Moen said it was stressful watching Stone go down.
“Our whole girls team has been trying to make it to state as a team,” Moen said, “so we were all kind freaked out about (Stone’s first run). Then I didn’t have a very good first run, it wasn’t terrible, but it was OK. Then the second run I came back and had a really good run, probably the best I’ve skied all year.
“All the girls came together. We held our own very well. We were a half-point away from going as a team.”
■ Brainerd boys seventh
The Warrior boys finished seventh and were led by Grant Kosobud in 23rd place and Ben Thoele in 25th.
“Grant was 2/10ths away from the final cut that made it to state,” Ruttger said, “and I think Ben was about 89/100ths behind. Those guys were really close. They both skied well.”
Brainerd’s Gabe Gibson was 30th, Cal Johnson 40th, Grant Madison 59th and Garett Lee 77th. Lee, the Warriors’ top seed, fell on his first run.
■ Promising future
Neither Brainerd team graduates a skier this year.
“Hannah is a junior and she’s the oldest,” Ruttger said. “Everyone else is a sophomore or younger. They’re going to be hungry next year to not have a repeat of what we had today.”
Boys team scores: 1-Orono 306, 2-Minnetonka 304, 3-Wayzata 269, 4-Hopkins 268, 5-Breakaways 254, 6-Breck 224, 7-Brainerd 222, 8-Maple Grove 208, 9-Lakes Ara Alpine 205, 10-Armstrong 170, 11-Westonka 169, 12-Cooper 122.5, 13-Annandale 107.5,
Individual winner: Bradford Morrison (Orono) 58.63
Brainerd results: 23-Grant Kosobud 1:06.13, 25-Ben Thoele 1:06.79, 30-Gabe Gibson 1:09.10, 40-Calvin Johnson 1:15.02, 59-Grant Madison 1:26.18, 77-Garett Lee 1:49.74
Girls team scores: 1-Minnetonka 290, 2-Orono 252, 3-Brainerd 251.5, 4-Wayzata 205.5, 5-Annandale 187, 6-Hopkins 180, 7-Maple Grove 159, 8-Westonkla 150, 9-Breck 128, 10-Armstrong 90, 11-Lakes Area Alpine 79, 12-Breakaways 56
Individual winner: Erin Olejnik (Minnetonka) 59.74
Brainerd results: 10-Hannah Moen 1:07.83, 12-Ashley Fitterer 1:08.07, 13-Grace McGuire 1:09.26, 17-Emily Aga 1:11.22, 18-Payge Fitterer 1:11.69, 59-Alex Stone 1:42.52
Next: Brainerd’s Hannah Moen, Ashley Fitterer, Grace McGuire, Emily Aga & Payge Fitterer in state meet, Giants Ridge, Biwabik, first run 10 a.m., second run 1 p.m. Wednesday.