by Jason Olson
Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony and Anoka Nordic ski teams took part in what quite possibly is the largest cross country ski meet in North America at the Mesabi East Invitational at Giants’ Ridge in Biwabik, site of the state meet Jan. 7.
Roseville edged Eden Prairie by 13 points for the team title, while Coon Rapids settled for 16th place, four points shy of St. Louis Park and five points behind Mound-Westonka. Anoka garnered a 30th-place finish and Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony finished 39th out of 60 teams.
The Cardinal boys were led by senior Calvin Merhof, who finished third among the 171 racers in the freestyle race in 13:29.7, 16 seconds off the pace set by race winner Jan Ketterson of Bloomington Nordic. Matt Swanson guided the team in the classical race with a 42nd-place finish out of 165 skiers.
The Coon Rapids boys’ junior varsity team placed 11th out of 49 teams.
Anoka was led by Logan Czech in the classical race with a 100th-place finish and Chris Hecker in freestyle race with a 16th place overall in 14:41.2.
The Panthers were paced in the freestyle race by Chris Lawson, who finished 30th in 15:07.7, and in the classical race it was Chris Wakefield who led the team with a 135th-place finish.
Coon Rapids girls finished eighth with 328 team points, three points behind Grand Rapids and 65 points back of champion Wayzata. Anoka claimed 10th place and Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony was 33rd in the field of 44 teams.
Sam Dills paced the Coon Rapids girls’ varsity team with a 30th-place finish in the freestyle event out of 177 skiers, while Sam Benson turned in the top Cardinals girls’ finish in the classical race with a 56th-place finish.
Anoka’s Katelyn Fritz finished 46th in the classical race in 20:41.3, 3:11.7 behind event winner Nora Gilbertson of Stillwater, while Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony was led by Julie Goulette, who finished 93rd in the field of 167 skiers.
Wayzata’s Alayna Sonnesyn won the freestyle race in 15:22.3 as Anoka junior Kayla Billett finished in 13th place in 16:58.1. Dills led the Cardinals with a 30th-place finish in 17:51.8 and Erin Mathews guided the Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony team with a 46th-place finish in 18:.28.4.
NWSC Classic event, Jan. 3
Area Nordic ski teams took to the trails at Elm Creek for a five-kilometer Northwest Suburban Conference Classic race Jan. 3.
Coon Rapids’ Merhof was sandwiched between two Osseo skiers, including senior Anders Evenson, who finished 25 seconds ahead of Merhof to win the race. Fellow Orioles senior David Johnson followed 28 seconds later for third place.
Andover skiers took the next three spots as Kyle Hellmann and Mitch Fisher placed fourth and fifth in 14:44 and 14:49, respectively. Huskies sophomore Lucas Hieb finished sixth overall in 14:51 and senior Kurt Hellmann was ninth in 15:01.
Anoka’s top racer, junior Thomas Hagerty, placed 58th in 17:40. Blaine’s Ben Ziebol garnered 82nd place in 18:47.
The girls’ 5k race title also went to an Osseo skier as Kaley Shagen posted a winning time of 15:57 followed by Andover sophomore Maddie McKeefry, 28 seconds back for second place in 16:25. Huskies teammates Maria McQuillan and Haley Bell were sixth and seventh in 17:58 and 18:01, respectively.
Coon Rapids’ Anna Nelson was in fourth place in 17:40 to lead her team, while teammates Benson finished eighth in 18:29 and Katie Heikkila was 13th in 18:49.