February 11, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.
Even though the Wildcats still didn't put together their best meet of the season, they did more than enough to earn a berth in the state tournament last week during their sections.
The state-bound 'Cats were led again by senior Mark Sandgren, who was their pacesetter in the last few weeks of the season. Sandgren had the second fastest run through the first run on the red course, and he didn't falter much in the blue course, earning the fourth best time. His combined times were 1:14.20, which was good enough to put him in third place in the meet. That finish earned the 'Cats 94 points.
Sophomore Joe Cartier rebounded from a stumble last week at Giants Ridge to finish just behind Sandgren in the total standings. His first run of 37.87 seconds on the red course earned him a fourth place finish in that run. In the second run, he finished in 37.40 seconds, which was the sixth best time of that course. His 1:15.27 combined time was good enough for fourth place and 93 points for the Wildcats.
Senior captain Steve Wagner was his typical, consistent self. He finished with the ninth best time in the first run, and the 13th best time in the second run. His total of 1:17.76 put him just inside the top 10 in 10th place. He earned 87 points for the finish. "We all skied for the good of the team and we came out on top," Wagner said. "I'm really proud of everyone."
Jake Sandgren finished out the varsity scoring for the Wildcats, earning a 25th place finish. He had a 41.10 second run on the red course, and a 40.95 second run on the blue course. His total of 1:22.05 was good enough to give the 'Cats a big cushion over the second place finishers in Duluth East.
And the 'Cats can still get better. Corbin Peterson, one of Chisago Lakes' better skiers, got disqualified when he reset after a stumble and missed a gate. The error cost him any times on the day. "Individually, this wasn't my best race, but the team was there to pick me up when I was down," Peterson said in a classy statement.
The Wildcats ran away with the meet, scoring 346 points, which was 30 more points than the Duluth East Greyhounds. East had the top skier in the event in Henry Roningen, and the eighth place finisher in Sam Seelos, but they didn't quite have the depth and consistency of the Wildcats, and it proved to be a huge benefit to CL.
Up next for the 'Cats is a date at state. They have all the tools to compete at a high level, but it's going to be tough against some of the top teams in the state. "We skied well at sections, but state is a whole new race," Sandgren, a senior, said. "But, you can expect us to be competitive."
In the girls draw, they weren't as fortunate as the boys were, finishing in fourth place, just two points out of a state tournament berth.
The top skier for Chisago Lakes was Shelia Stephani. The Cambridge Christian school product has led the 'Cats almost all year, and after her first run, CL knew they were going to have a top finisher. She finished with the fourth best time at 43.03 seconds of the red run. In her second run, she stepped up a bit, finishing with the second best time of 38.50 seconds. Her 1:21.53 combined time was good enough for third place overall in the meet, just three seconds behind Megan Danelski of Hermantown.
Katie Rayer earned the only other top 20 finish of the meet for the girls when she recorded a combined time of 1:29.33, which put her in 16th place.
Two seniors, Teresa Sandberg and Amanda Houle rounded out the varsity scoring for the Wildcats. Sandberg came in 25th place with a combined time of 1:31.30. Houle contributed a 31st place finish to the 'Cats, ending up with a combined time of 1:34.24.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they were only two points out of a three-way tie with Marshall and Hermantown. If they would've been able to make up those precious few seconds to tie them with those two schools, they would've been heading to state also, as the tiebreaker is the fifth skier, and CL's Araya Gamble was by far the best fifth skier out of those three teams. "With any on of us skiing a fraction of a second better, we would be joining the boys at state," said Sandberg, a senior. "We had a good season and finished strong. It's too bad we missed it by such a close margin."
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