Cross country skiers finally had enough man-made snow to glide across area trails as the season flipped into high gear over the last week.
Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids opened the season under the lights at Trollhaugen Dec. 5.
Coon Rapids won the boys’ team race by 18 points over Anoka and the girls’ title went to Anoka, who edged Coon Rapids by four points.
Coon Rapids senior captain Michael Coughlin continued where he left off last season by winning the boys’ race in 12 minutes, 53 seconds, 12 seconds ahead of Anoka’s Chris Hecker and 13 seconds ahead of Cardinals teammate Steven Mueggenberg. Coon Rapids secured five of the top seven places.
Senior captain and state-meet participant Anna Nelson won the girls’ race for the Cardinals in 14:22 or 38 seconds ahead of Anoka runner-up Kayla Billet.
The two programs traded the top six spots and Anoka garnered five of the top eight times. Coon Rapids’ Jerlie Jensen placed 11th overall in 16:44 and is someone coach Denny Nelson expects to move up as the season progresses.
Blaine’s Luke Setterholm finished the four-lap course in 25:12 and on the girls’ side Danielle Peterson placed 15th to lead the Bengals in 15:56.
The three schools returned to competition this time at the memorial course at Bunker Hills Dec. 11.
Once again Nelson won the girls’ race, 12 seconds ahead of Billet, while Hecker won the boys’ race by 44 seconds ahead of Coon Rapids’ Steven Mueggenberg. The Cardinal boys won the team title over Anoka by 20 points as they swept second through fifth places.
Two nights later 198 skiers and nine schools, including both Anoka squads, converged on the Trollhaugen ski area for the ninth annual Peter Westra Sprints, hosted by St. Paul Academy.
The 1.1-kilometer course featured three hair-pin turns allowing spectators excellent views of the course complete with bonfires and treats.
Billet placed third in the girls’ sprint race, trailing Forest Lake champion Rocci Wohlk and Mounds Park Academy’s Kristen Bourne. Billet’s Anoka teammate, Annie Asp placed eighth.
On the boys’ side it was Minnehaha Academy’s Luke Brown winning the sprint over Anoka’s Chris Hecker.