Maria Hauer has been there before.
If she makes it again, she’s got bigger and better on her mind.
The Little Falls Flyers junior has already competed in four state Nordic ski meets. Her top finish came last year as she placed 42nd. Her goal, should she return, is to earn all-state honors, which means a finish in the top 25.
Hauer started this season like she finished the last by dominating the Riverside Park course Dec. 11, leading to a first-place time of 21:00. Hauer’s win, and three other top 10 finishes, led the Flyers to the team title.
“What we see from Maria is a very focused athlete who trained hard over the summer,” said Flyers head coach Terry Wasland. “She’s trying her hand at Junior Olympic racing right now, too. She’s very interested in making this a memorable season. She’s really taking pride in her effort and she’s skiing very well for us.”
Hauer skied to a fifth-place time of 18:47.7 Dec. 8 at the Grand Rapids Invite in Coleraine. Her place led Little Falls to fifth.
In the Flyers’ opener, Hauer skied a second-place 9:07 at Kimball’s Powder Ridge and the Flyers finished fourth.
“This summer I went to Oregon and trained,” said Hauer. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot and improved my technique. It was an exciting experience. It also gave me some more snow time, which has benefited me.”
Hauer said her technique has become more fluid and natural. She said it has become second nature to her.
Wasland said Hauer has much more upper body and core strength, which is also helping.
Hauer caught fire at the end of last season as she won the Granite Ridge Conference title and backed it up with a Section 8 title.
At last year’s state meet, she skied to a 42nd-place pursuit time of 37:52.5. She tallied an 18:11 freestyle and a 19:41.5 classic time.
Hauer placed 98th as a freshman with a pursuit time of 38:47.8. She owned a 17:03 freestyle and a 21:44.8 classic time.
Her eighth-grade season produced a 71st-place time of 38:46.7 with splits of 18:56 in freestyle and 19:50.7 in classic.
She finished 114th at state her seventh-grade season.
But Hauer is concentrating on the trail ahead of her.
“It’s really nice to have been to state before,” said Hauer. “I feel like you’re more prepared for different circumstances and different styles of skiing.
“What’s really nice is I have a bunch of equally talented teammates who I get to train with every day. We are always pushing each other. It’s also nice because then I don’t have to train with the boys. I can be with my teammates.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Bethany Cressman, Lake Region, finished with 21 points, six rebounds and three steals against Rosemount, 19 points and nine rebounds against Woodcrest and 30 points against Karlstad to reach 1,000 for her career.
Kayla Miller, Pequot Lakes, scored 26 points against Park Rapids.
Kelly Pearson, Staples-Motley, scored 20 points against Woodbury.
Gymnastics: Rachelle LeBlanc, Little Falls, won all-around titles against Howard Lake-Waverly with a 34.60 and against Bemidji with a 36.625.