By her own admission, Molly Binger is a better freestyle Nordic skier than she is at the classic discipline.
Little Falls Flyers head coach Terry Wasland reiterated that statement.
They both may need to change their minds.
Binger completed the classic course at the Mesabi East Invite Jan. 5 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik in 19:53.3.
It placed the junior fourth in a field that included teams from across the Midwest.
"It's like the championships of the Midwest," said Wasland. "Different states are there and all the top schools from Minnesota are there. For Molly to finish fourth is a real accomplishment. She's a better freestyler than classic skier, but now we may be changing our minds."
Binger said she was surprised Wasland put her in the classic portion of the event. She wasn't expecting to place as well as she did. She said she just learned the classic technique last year and is still working on her stride.
"I'm more of a skier than a classic skater," said Binger. "I wasn't sure why (Wasland) put me in the classic this year. It was more of a double-pole course than a skating course and I do have a strong upper body from swimming. I seem to do well when I have to use the double-pole technique.
"I was surprised with how I finished. I was really mad because I had to stop during the race on the steepest hill because I was tired. I felt like I stopped for a long time, but apparently not."
School: Little Falls
Sport: Nordic skiing
Key stat: Placed fourth at the Mesabi East Invite.
Binger followed Saturday's performance with an individual title at the Jan. 8 Mora Invite with a time of 13:58.
Wasland said everything Binger has accomplished this season is what he expected. He said she's a gifted, young athlete who gives it everything she's got.
Binger placed 30th in last season's state meet. She finished with a pursuit time (or a combined time of her classic and freestyle races) of 38:23.0. She skied to a freestyle time of 19:03, while completing the classic course in 19:20 at Giants Ridge.
It was the second state meet for the three-year varsity member. Like the Mesabi East Invite, she said she gets excited for the bigger meets
"I like meets like that a lot more because there is more pressure because it is such a big meet," said Binger, "I find it harder to push myself or give everything I have at meets that aren't necessarily important.
"At meets like (Mesabi) I have to give everything. I was prepared for that meet. I had been thinking about it for a while and I was ready."
Binger is no stranger to big meets as a member of the Little Falls swimming and diving team, She has been to the last two Class 1A state meets. Last fall she placed 12th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 55.17. She also helped the Flyers' 200 freestyle relay team to eighth place and the 400 free relay to 15th.
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Katie Kimman, Pierz, had 18 points and 11 rebounds against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.
Alicia Johnson, Verndale, scored 17 points against Sebeka.
Emily Mehr, Aitkin, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds against Pine River-Backus.
Kimberly Graber, Lake Region, had 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals against Rosemount Christian.
Megan Zillmer, Crosby-Ironton, scored 18 points against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Katie Wangberg, Pine River-Backus, scored 20 points against Cass Lake-Bena.
Taylor Sheley, PR-B, scored 18 points against CL-B.
Gymnastics: Kaisha Gomez, Little Falls, tied for first in the floor event at the Park Rapids Invite.
Hockey: C.J. Arndt, Little Falls, scored two goals against St. Cloud Apollo-Cathedral.
Nordic: Melissa Kempenich, Little Falls, placed sixth in the classic race at the Mesabi East Invite with a time of 20:04.1.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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