Middle Park High School Nordic team wraps up State Championships in Leadville
Leadville – The MPHS Nordic and Alpine squads teamed up to take on the rest of the league in Leadville at the State Meet last week.
The team bus rolled out on Wednesday after a rousing school send-off rally. On the Nordic side, 10 men and five women earned the right to take on an individual start classic 5k on Thursday and a pursuit start skate 5k on Friday at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. According to Assistant Coach, Dave Cleveland, “This course was all about pain tolerance. It has to be one of the most difficult 5k races anywhere. The first half is a continuous climb with no chance for rest”. Cleveland went on to note, “Olympic and World Cup courses are restricted to an altitude of 6000 feet but our kids were already at 10,220 feet when they stepped off the bus! Average people are given supplemental oxygen if an airliner loses cabin pressure at this altitude yet our athletes are covering 5k in less than 20 minutes under these conditions. These are some really tough kids!”
On Thursday, athletes and coaches alike enjoyed getting up at a reasonable hour for the short trek from hotel to course versus their usual pre-dawn departures. Classic skis were already waxed with Toko Blue and kick wax selection was easy due to cold temperatures and quality snow conditions.
Led by underclassmen duo Alex Holinka in seventh with a time of 18:27 and Sebastian Brower in 10th with a time of 18:39, the men raced first and finished an impressive third out of 13 teams in the classic race, their best showing all season. Guy Granger had his best race of the season coming in 29th with a time of 20:16 to round out scoring.
Overcoming recent illness, Vinny Troccoli finished strong in 31st (20:20). Up next for MPHS were Ethan Callarman (38th in 20:44), Kimo Sullivan (36th in 20:46), and Isaiah Callarman (49th in 21:26). Also completing the challenging course were Eric Berry (22:09) and Wil Cleveland (22:16).
The women’s team finished in fifth overall for the classic race with senior Emily Jensen leading the way with a seventh place individual finish with a time of 21:07. Also scoring points for MPHS were Lizzy Barker in 17th (22:26) and Raelee Granger in 22nd (23:11). Kately Cimino had her best race to end the season, finishing 41st with a time of 25:57.
On Friday the men again grabbed a podium spot, finishing third out of 12 teams in the skate race. Freshman Alex Holinka again led the charge, finishing in seventh place with an impressive time of 15:22 with Sebastian Brower next for MPHS in 13th (16:04). Vinny Troccoli rounded out scoring in 26th (16:49). Guy Granger (28th in 16:57), Kimo Sullivan (34th in 17:17), Ethan Callarman (52nd in 17:51) and Wil Cleveland (53rd in 18:02) all had great races as well. Eric Berry (60th in 18:25), team captain Aaron Sanders (67th in 10:01), and Isaiah Callarman (70th in 20:19) wrapped it up for the Middle Park men.
The women again finished in fifth place on Friday with senior Emily Jensen racing her last high school race, bringing home top points with an eighth place individual finish, completing the course in 18:14. Lizzy Barker (21st in 19:26) and senior team captain Raelee Granger (22nd in 19:31) had strong races as well to round out the top three. Freshman Maggie Barker (39th in 21:44) gained valuable state experience to wrap it up for the women.
Taking into account placing for slalom, giant slalom, classic and skate races, the MPHS combined Alpine and Nordic team finished an impressive fourth overall.
Head Coach Mike Lohman had only good things to say as he summed up the season, “The team peaked at the right time with many athletes having their best performances at the state meet. The attitude and effort of this team has made coaching them a real pleasure this season. I’ve seen such a great mix of leadership from our upperclassmen and a fun-loving spirit overall even during the toughest workouts.”
According to Lohman, “This could not have happened without support of all the parents, Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Director Bill Pierce, and our assistant coaches, especially Jessica Jortberg, coach for Winter Park Comp Center.”
The team will hold an end-of-season banquet on Wednesday were they will say farewell to seniors Darby Howard, Emily Jensen, Raelee Granger, Evan Olsen, and Jeremy Peterson.
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