Coon Rapids skiers represent state well at Hayward Holiday Classic

Coon Rapids’ Nordic skiing hit the road over the holiday break to take advantage of a crowded all-Wisconsin field at the Hayward, Wis., Holiday Classic Race on a 5km loop at the Birkebeiner trails.

From left, Andover's John Pahr, Eric Heib and Eric Larson begin a Northwest Suburban Conference skate race at Elm Creek. Blaine eighth-grader Ben Olson, front, leads a pack up the hill during a Northwest Suburban Conference race at Elm Creek. Photos by Bill Jones Alexis Pearson, Andover Andover's Eric Larson, left, leads an Armstrong skier during a Northwest Suburban Conference skate race at Elm Creek Park. Andover's Rachel Jensen and Maria Zak Blaine's Amelia Luckow Blaine's Aubrey Shepard
Blaine eighth-grader Ben Olson, front, leads a pack up the hill during a Northwest Suburban Conference race at Elm Creek. Photos by Bill Jones

A soft classic track with new snow on top made waxing problematic.

Junior Kaitlyn Benson finished fifth overall in the varsity race to highlight a second-place team finish.

Senior Micah Johnson paced the Cardinal boys with a 10th place overall finish and the team placed fifth.

Both Coon Rapids junior varsity teams captured the team title highlighted by Larsen Kronstad winning the race and Jessica Swanson finishing runner-up in the field.

Conference grade-level races

Blaine eighth grader Ben Olson won the 5km classic race in 15:52 at the Elm Creek event, Dec. 10. He was 2:58 ahead of runner-up Scott Siegfried of Armstrong and third-place Paul Breitbach of Coon Rapids.

Andover’s Sam Anderson won the sophomore race over Coon Rapids’ Dan Mathews by 45 seconds.

Andover junior Ian Mead was runner-up, 39 seconds behind Armstrong’s Tom Mead in the junior race.

Andover continued its strong performance on the boys’ side with Lucas Hieb winning the senior race over a trio of Osseo skiers by 21 seconds. Huskies teammate Erik Larson was fifth.

Hieb also won the 5km freestyle race in 14:05, edging Armstrong’s Tom Norman by three seconds and Mead was 42 seconds back in fourth place.

Johnson of Coon Rapids was 12th and Blaine’s Olson was 13th.

On the girls’ side, Andover’s Maddie McKeefry won the senior classic race in 15:56, 1:11 ahead of Armstrong runner-up Anna Nachbor and placed third in the overall rankings, 1:02 behind Osseo’s Sarah Bezdicek.

Coon Rapids junior Kaitlyn Benson was ninth overall and Anoka’s Lindsey Gast was 11th overall.

Ranger Invite

Forest Lake won its 8k double pursuit (two laps classic, freestyle) invite race at Troll Hollow, Dec. 12.

The Rangers edged runner-up Coon Rapids by 28 points and third-place Anoka by 48 points including the top four individual places. Dan Mathews paced the Cardinals with a sixth-place finished followed by Anoka’s Jeff Barstow in seventh place, 47 seconds back.

Anoka girls tied Hayward (Wis.) for runner-up, 27 points behind team champion Forest Lake and Coon Rapids placed fourth.

The Cardinals’ Benson was fourth overall, 4:10 behind champion Rocci Wohlk of Forest Lake.

Holiday relays

Area teams took part in the 24-team Holiday Relays at Trollhaugen Ski Area in Dresser, Wis., Dec. 17.

Andover boys finished second in the classic team standings, 66 seconds behind champion Mounds View, Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony was 12th and Blaine 24th.

Panthers standout senior Jake Ajax was third, skiing the first of four legs in 7:58, 14 seconds behind Mounds View’s Steve Hokanson’s winning time. Hieb led Mead by three seconds to guide Andover with 11th and 12th places, respectively.

Andover’s team placed ninth in 35:13, 3:40 behind champion Stillwater. Blaine garnered 23rd place and Spring Lake Park 29th.

Andover junior John Pahr placed 25th, Olson of Blaine was 35th and Spring Lake Park’s George Elsesser was 70th out of 129 skiers.

Andover girls placed fourth in the team standings, 3:19 behind champion Wayzata. Spring Lake Park was 25th and Blaine 26th out of the 32-team field.

McKeefry was the top area finisher, leading the Huskies with a seventh-place finish in 8:54, 56 seconds behind winner Alayna Sonnesyn of Wayzata.

McKeefry’s teammates Alexis Pearson and Ashley Cofrin placed 23rd and 24th, respectively, Spring Lake Park senior Melissa Marsh finished 35th and Blaine seventh-grader Sarah Olson was 39th out of 136 skiers.

Jason Olson is at