After having a team or individual in the coaches association rankings all season, the Brainerd Warriors Nordic ski program finds itself absent from the ratings as it prepares for Friday's state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Just a week ago, the Warrior girls were ranked seventh and Christina Roberts was 12th. The girls' team had been ranked as high as fifth and Roberts as high as sixth. For the first three weeks of the season the boys' team was ranked sixth.
"We'll use it (as motivation) but it's not a big thing because the rankings are notoriously inaccurate," Warriors coach Chris Hanson said.
Brainerd receives a chance to demonstrate to pollsters that it belongs as it has qualified four girls and three boys for state.
Roberts will compete in pursuit (a combination of classic and freestyle) in her fourth state meet. Rebecca Mueller also has qualified in pursuit, Hanna Stadem in classic and Ashley Schmolke in freestyle.
State Meet at Giants Ridge, Biwabik
Boys classical, 10:30 a.m.
Girls classical, 11:30 a.m.
Boys freestyle, 1:30 p.m.
Girls freestyle, 2:30 p.m..
In the boys' meet, Chris Woodard has qualified in pursuit for his third state meet. Ty Hunt has qualified in classic and Derrek Matson in freestyle.
Roberts and Woodard may have the best chance to place. Roberts finished 28th in pursuit last year, 37th as a sophomore and was 45th in classic as a freshman.
"Last year Christina wasn't feeling well," Hanson said. "She didn't ski poorly. This year things are clicking a little better for her. She's got her eyes on all-state honors (top 30). That's a very real possibility."
Woodard is making his third state appearance. He was 61st in pursuit as a sophomore and 40th in freestyle as a freshman.
"Most significant for Chris is he's healthy this year," Hanson said. "Last year he had a bad virus that affected him at the section and he kind of squeaked into state. This year he qualified easily. He's revved up to tackle that course."
Hunt will tackle the Giants Ridge course for the second time. Last year he was 61st in classic.
"Ty has become somewhat of a classic specialist of late," Hanson said. "He did pretty well last year. He finished ahead of Chris in the (state) classic race."
Seniors Derrek Matson, in the boys' division, and Ashley Schmolke, in the girls' meet, will make their state skiing debuts. Both made it to state last fall in cross country running.
"Derrek's got nothing to lose, he can let it all hang out, have a lot of fun, see where he stacks up," Hanson said. "He had a fantastic race at the section. He had some good early season results, now he's back on track. It will be fun to see him ski with the rest of the big boys.
"Ashley came a long way this year. She earned her trip there. She gets to enjoy the last race of her high school career."
Mueller, an avid biathlete, and Stadem, a member of the state cross country team, will be making their state skiing debuts.
"Rebecca skied a strong section meet," Hanson said. "There were four non-team qualifiers for pursuit, and we took the first two positions. Christina was first, Rebecca was right behind her.
"I know Hanna is motivated to make this an annual event and come back the next couple years."
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