When lakes area residents peek out their windows and see their lawns showing they might wonder how a Nordic ski team can race in such conditions.
Somehow, the Brainerd Warriors managed to conduct and complete their invitational on a dreary, rainy Saturday at Northland Arboretum.
"We couldn't have done it three hours later," Warriors coach Chris Hanson said, "but we pulled it off. We just shortened up the course.
"We shoveled a little snow. There were a couple spots to go around, but there really weren't many complaints. I think everyone understands everyone else is in the same boat. It was a little tough going, but it actually was a good day, overall. It was sloppy, but we got it out of the way."
There was nothing sloppy about Christina Roberts' performance. The Warrior senior skied to her third victory of the season and helped her teammates to the title.
Roberts finished in 15:24, beating runner-up Katie Zupan of Grand Rapids by 12 seconds.
"Christina herself, and everyone else there, knew she was a strong skier," Hanson said. "It was a pleasant surprise to see her come out on top, especially looking at Katie Zupan, who's another real successful skier.
"When we've faced Grand Rapids' girls in other races we have been just behind them. Grand Rapids was not at full strength. They were missing two of their big guns. Even still, it was the first time we've beaten Grand Rapids since I've been around."
Other top 10 Brainerd girls' finishers were Rebecca Mueller in third place, Ashley Schmolke in eighth and Hanna Stadem in ninth.
The Warrior boys' team finished third with 365 points, losing via tiebreaker to Alexandria.
Brainerd was led individually by Chris Woodard, who tied for fourth with a time of 13:47.
"Only the first-place skier was way ahead," Hanson said of the boys' race. "Chris was right in the hunt with the other big guns from Grand Rapids. It was nice to see him ski so well because he hasn't been at the top of his game yet.
"Chris had such a high finish in the cross country running season (24th in the state). I think he's gearing up again. He's coming around. For someone to place so high and have to start all over again it's tough to maintain that momentum. It's been a little bit of a transition."
Ty Hunt, in seventh place, was the only other Warrior boys' top 10 finisher. Brainerd was missing Derrek Matson because of illness and Titus Goodew because of vacation.
"Two of our top 5 skiers were gone and it ended up hurting us because Alexandria beat us in a tiebreaker," Hanson said.
Boys varsity team scores --1-Grand Rapids 384, 2-Alexandria 365, 3-Brainerd 365, 4-Elk River 362, 5-Willmar 298
Individual winner --Tyler Gerling (GR) 12:54
Brainerd results --5-Chris Woodard 13:47, 7-Ty Hunt 14:18, 11-Ben Endreson 14:31, 16-Justin Grunewald 14:58, 20-Nick Mangan 15:41, 23-Justin Tyner 16:05
Girls varsity team scores --1-Brainerd 383, 2-Grand Rapids 382, 3-Alexandria 339, 4-Elk River 328, 5-Buffalo 327, 6-Willmar 234
Individual winner --Christina Roberts (BRD) 15:24
Brainerd results --3-Rebecca Mueller 15:50, 8-Ashley Schmolke 16:31, 9-Hanna Stadem 16:46, 13-Katherine Mueller 17:08, 19-Anna Mangan 18:40
Junior varsity boys
Individual winner --Shawn Steinkraus (BR) 15:20
Brainerd results --2-Andrew Boos 15:41, 5-Hans Stadem 16:35, 9-Nick Nathan 17:29, 13-Wes Hendrickson 18:11, 18-Lance Borgstrom 19:32, 21-Kyle Solstad 19:52
Junior varsity girls
Individual winner --Laura Hoganson (GR) 18:06
Brainerd results --2-Maggie Sweeney 19:16, 11-Katie Schindler 22:33, 13-Emily Olson 22:40
Next meet -- Brainerd at Deer River Invitational 10 a.m. Friday.
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