As a junior, Katie Majka was often seeded in the middle of the lineup by the Brainerd Warriors girls' alpine ski team. As a result, Warriors coach Jim Ruttger thinks Majka may have been underrated.
"We had all those seniors so we would run her in the middle seeds," Ruttger said. "In retrospect, maybe we would have seen even better results last year if we had run her in the higher seeds. She really blossomed this year."
Majka blossomed into a state qualifier this season. At the Section 7 meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik last week she recorded the highest finish of any Warrior female when she placed fourth with a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 24.72 seconds. In the process Majka qualified for the state meet Thursday at Giants Ridge.
"Looking back over the last 12 years you can say this skier was best at whatever and Katie falls into that category in a number of situations, certainly in terms of her skiing ability," Ruttger said. "She's someone we could always depend on. The last two years I think she had just one fall. She seems like the rare girl that skied in the upper couple seeds, and has maintained that kind of consistency. We always depended on her for some major points in our team score."
Majka entered the section thinking a top-10 finish was an attainable goal.
"I was excited to end up fourth," she said. "I did a lot better than I expected to do. I went in and skied consistently. I had a really good day. Both my runs were wonderful."
Ruttger said Majka's strength is part of the reason she blossomed this winter.
"I don't think we have had another girl that has put more effort into the weight room than Katie," Ruttger said. "She's been in there consistently the last two years. By the time we were in dryland training she already was a well-conditioned athlete after playing soccer. She maintained that through our season."
Majka maintains that having competed at Giants Ridge five times this season, plus having been a member of the Warriors' state team in 1999, may be to her advantage Thursday.
"Giants Ridge has been a pretty good place for me," she said. "It's sort of getting to be like our home hill. We go there so much. For the most part I really like the hill. It's not too steep.
"I've been (to state). I've seen (the state meet). I know how it goes. I got to watch the individual event. I know what happens there. I'm a little more calm going into it this time.
"It's the last meet of my high school career. I want to show everybody how I can do."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Christina Roberts, nordic skiing, placed sixth in classical at the section meet and qualified for state.
Megan Whalen, girls' hockey, had two goals and an assist in a section quarterfinal win against St. Cloud Tech.
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