Pine Knot News - A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

REACH Mentoring Program

CEC takes advantage of home tracks

Boys take first at only home meet

 

December 27, 2019

Jana Peterson

Carlton's Spencer Hoeffling (left) and Cloquet's Josh Sanders start out Thursday's classic race together at Cloquet's Pine Valley course. Both Lumberjacks team members finished in the top 10.

There's no place like home. Dorothy said it first, but the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys Nordic team proved it by placing five boys in the top 10 during the varsity race Thursday as the Lumberjacks hosted their only home meet of the season.

The race start area at Pine Valley was a field of white awash in activity for hours Thursday, Dec. 19. More than 360 skiers in grades 7-12 warmed up, raced, cheered each other on and then enjoyed homemade goodies in the ski chalet at the woodland park. CEC head coach Arne Maijala said 10 teams came to the meet with nearly perfect weather with the temperature in the teens.

Cloquet junior Benjamin Bauer (17:11.1) took first in the 5.5K classic ski race, with Carlton senior Spencer Hoeffling taking fourth (17:43.8), AJ Maijala (18:07.9) and Sanders (18:10.6) coming in seventh and eighth place, and Cale Prosen (18:16.5) taking tenth.

"I think we've got a strong team, but knowing every turn [on the course] makes it more comfortable," said Cloquet's Josh Sanders, who placed eighth. The Cloquet boys team finished with 384 points to Ely's 379.

While Bauer said it was "super fun" to take first, he said he'd choose a team first over the individual win any day.

"That's kind of what it's about here [the team]," Bauer said. "One of my goals is to get the team to go to state together this year. We were pretty close last year."

On the girls varsity side Thursday, CEC placed fourth, behind first place Mesabi East, Ely in second and Duluth East. Sophomore Harmony Tracy was the top finisher for the CEC girls, taking ninth place. Senior Hannah Zuck took 16th, while her sister, Halle, a sophomore, placed 18th. Megan Chopskie placed 26th for CEC. Charlotte Ripp was out sick.

It's the first year the Zuck sisters have done Nordic, as Halle competed for only the alpine team in past years. Nordic skiing runs in the family, as mom Melissa (Nesseth) skied competitively at Proctor High School, and dad Brian loves skiing too. Hannah also pointed out that both she and her mother had Glen Sorenson as a coach. (Sorenson retired from coaching Cloquet after the 2017-18 season.)

Hannah said it's taken some getting used to, but it's good having her sister on the team. She said the whole team is "like a family."

"I just love the sport," said Hannah. "And today was good. It's nice to have home court advantage."

In addition to student athletes and coaches, a small army of volunteers turned out for the meet, doing everything from starting the racers to timing, serving concessions and more.

"A lot of people stepped up to help. We've got three or four at the start, six in the timing shed and a ton of people brought food," Coach Maijala said. "We've even got one person out on the course, raking and making sure people are OK and that they make the right turn [to the back loop]."

There were plenty of spectators too. Local parents who could take time off during the day were there, along with former CEC Nordic skiers, including Maijala's daughter, Anja, who is a Division I skier for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks and home for winter break.

Anja skied out in front of the girls varsity race, and cheered from the back loop for a time, when she helped out Cloquet junior Henry Slater by loaning him one of her ski poles, as his had snapped about a mile back on the trail.

"She held out her pole and I grabbed it," Slater said, adding that it was easier skiing with different sized ski poles than only one. "She saved me."

The boys JV team did well too Thursday, with three finishing in the top 10: Lleyton Sinkkonen took third, Miles Fischer came in seventh place and Zach Erikkila placed tenth.

In other notable Nordic news, all five of the top skiers on the boys team are also competing in some Junior National Qualifiers (JNQ) races this season, including one at Spirit Mountain last week.

Bauer said the races give them a taste of a different kind of competition, with mass starts and some longer distances (10K) for some, and sprints in other cases.

"It's kind of like state, but with more than Minnesota," he said. "It spices it up and makes us better skiers."

CEC next competes Saturday, Dec.Nordic ...

"I just love the sport," said Hannah. "And today was good. It's nice to have home court advantage."

In addition to student athletes and coaches, a small army of volunteers turned out for the meet, doing everything from starting the racers to timing, serving concessions and more.

"A lot of people stepped up to help. We've got three or four at the start, six in the timing shed and a ton of people brought food," Coach Maijala said. "We've even got one person out on the course, raking and making sure people are OK and that they make the right turn [to the back loop]."

There were plenty of spectators too. Local parents who could take time off during the day were there, along with former CEC Nordic skiers, including Maijala's daughter, Anja, who is a Division I skier for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks and home for winter break.

Anja skied out in front of the girls varsity race, and cheered from the back loop for a time, when she helped out Cloquet junior Henry Slater by loaning him one of her ski poles, as his had snapped about a mile back on the trail.

Jana Peterson

CEC assistant coach Ben Croft and varsity skier AJ Maijala check out race results inside the chalet at Pine Valley. Find more photos online.

"She held out her pole and I grabbed it," Slater said, adding that it was easier skiing with different sized ski poles than only one. "She saved me."

The boys JV team did well too Thursday, with three finishing in the top 10: Lleyton Sinkkonen took third, Miles Fischer came in seventh place and Zach Erikkila placed tenth.

In other notable Nordic news, all five of the top skiers on the boys team are also competing in some Junior National Qualifiers (JNQ) races this season, including one at Spirit Mountain last week.

Bauer said the races give them a taste of a different kind of competition, with mass starts and some longer distances (10K) for some, and sprints in other cases.

"It's kind of like state, but with more than Minnesota," he said. "It spices it up and makes us better skiers."

CEC next competes Saturday, Dec. 28 at Giants Ridge, starting at noon.

28 at Giants Ridge, starting at noon.

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019