Justin Tyner and Hans Stadem will wear blue and white Brainerd Warriors Nordic skiing attire for the final time Friday.
The seniors will battle for the pursuit title in the state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
The meet will begin with the boys' freestyle race at 11 a.m. This is the first year the meet involves a pursuit-only race format for boys and girls.
Also skiing Friday are Brainerd junior Katherine Mueller and sophomore Hannah McAllister.
In the Section 8 meet, Mueller finished with a sixth-place pursuit time of 33:02. McAllister was 10th at 34:35.
This will be the second state Nordic meet and second state meet of the year for both girls. They both competed for Brainerd's state cross country running team last fall.
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Last season Mueller finished 71st in pursuit. McAllister was 82nd in freestyle.
Two top 10 finishers return from last year's pursuit race: Grand Rapids' Addie Byrne placed sixth and Duluth East senior Ericka Sell was seventh.
"Katherine and Hannah are looking to improve from last year because they were nervous and the nerves showed, "said Warriors coach Nicole Kellerman. "They both want to improve their standings. Katherine is right on the edge of becoming somebody to watch."
Because of Mueller's advanced skill in the classic discipline, it's to her advantage that the freestyle race precedes the classic.
Kellerman said the boys would prefer the classic race first but remain optimistic about all-state finishes.
"This is the third state meet for both of them," Kellerman said. "Justin has been ranked in the top 10 all year and Hans is right on the verge. Both have set their goals to break into the top 10."
Tyner captured the Section 8 pursuit title in 26:08. Stadem placed third at 26:44. Last year at state Tyner finished 24th in pursuit, sixth in freestyle and Stadem nabbed 34th in freestyle.
Coon Rapids sophomore Joe Dubay is the highest returning qualifier in pursuit. He earned runner-up state honors last season. St. Cloud Tech senior Luke Busta was fifth followed by Forest Lake's Lief Nordgren, who was seventh.
"The course does not change from year to year and actually the Mesabi meet is like a state preview," said Kellerman. "The freestyle course is technical with a lot of hills and that works in our advantage because of all the work we've done on the hills at Ski Gull.
"The classic course isn't quite as technical. It's more of an endurance race and again that's an advantage to us because of everyone's cross country background. They all have lungs of steel."
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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