Maria Hauer is no stranger to big meets.
The four-year varsity Nordic skier for the Little Falls Flyers had competed in three state meets prior to Thursday’s state finale.
What had eluded Hauer was success in those big meets. Until this season the younger sister of former Flyer great Beth Hauer made a name for herself by capturing the inaugural Granite Ridge Conference sprints title. She also helped the relay team of Mattia Hendrickson, Chelsea Rutz and Kaitlin Geisenhof to a first-place finish.
Five days later, Hauer won the Section 8 pursuit title to help the Flyers to the state meet.
“I pretty much went to the meet hoping to ski solid and have fun,” Hauer said Monday. “I didn’t go in there thinking I would win. My mindset was how to help the team and how to do my best.
“After the skate race, I knew I was stronger in classic, so I just needed to go do what I always do. I was worried about the skate portion because our section has a lot of good skate racers.”
Hauer was first after the morning skate race with a time of 13:52 and posted the fastest classic time with a 13:08 for an overall championship time of 27:00. Hauer’s time was 27 seconds better than the second-place finisher.
“What’s been so pleasing with Maria is her consistency,” said Flyers head coach Terry Wasland. “She doesn’t seem to vary much. There was only one race she didn’t ski very well and that’s because she broke a pole in a mass start. She has been our No. 1 skier and we could see that right from the get-go early in the season on roller skis.”
Hauer called winning the section an honor, but was in preparation mode for the state meet and didn’t want to dwell on the past, but look more toward the future.
“This year is really different,” she said. “I started out going to state as the No. 7 skier on the team. Being a section champion and going with kids my same age is really exciting. It’s really fun because we’re a fairly close team.”
Last season, Hauer placed 98th at state with a 38:47.8. She was 71st as an eighth-grader with a time of 38:46.7. Her first state trip resulted in a 114th-place time of 44:29.4. She did that with a cast on her arm.
“Maria has really improved her technique,” Wasland said. “She’s a very good athlete so her technique has been her biggest improvement. If you saw her two years ago to where she’s at right now you wouldn’t recognize her.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Mikayla Wing, Staples-Motley, scored 28 points against Pequot Lakes.
Mattie Lueck, Pequot Lakes, scored 28 points against Staples-Motley.
Chelsey Bonsante, Crosby-Ironton, scored 23 points against Bemidji.
Tatum Sheley, Pine River-Backus, scored 34 points against Blackduck and 34 against Bagley
Whitney Weisz, Little Falls, scored 21 points against Foley.
Jasmine McGillvray, Staples-Motley, scored 25 points against Menahga.
Gymnastics: Rachelle LeBlanc, Little Falls, won all-around title at the Granite Ridge Conference championship.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.