January 28, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
Taking a break from their tough Northwest Suburban Conference schedule, the Chisago Lakes boys and girls alpine ski teams converged on Giant's Ridge in Biwabik on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week.
Although both teams have had a boatload of success this year, the boys team has mor consistently finished on top of their meets, and despite the large size of the field, this event was no different.
It was a unique event, as only the top four scores were tallied instead of the top six. That really aided the Wildcat boys, who, barring any falls and stumbles, have some of the top racers in the North Metro.
Their skill was on display as three Wildcats finished in the top five of the 116-boy event. Their performance was also very impressive, given the fact that the second run at Giant's Ridge was brutal, and induced 14 different disqualifications from boys and 26 times over one minute from the guys.
Mark Sandgren grabbed the top spot for the boys, finished the hills in a combined 1:14.34. The mark put him in second place overall behind Dane Jensen of Apple Valley/Rosemount. Joe Cartier also skiied very well, finishin in third place, just 12 one-hundreths of a second behind Sandgren overall.
Just over a second behind Cartier was senior Steve Wagner. His time of 1:15.81 earned him a fifth place finish in the meet, and all but secured the victory for the Wildcats. Connor Corgard of Blaine was the fourth place finisher sandwiched in between Cartier and Wagner. He recorded a combined time of 1:14.73.
The Wildcats still needed to notch one more strong time, and Jake Sandgren came through for them, finishing in 11th place with a time of 1:20.50.
The performances gave the Wildcats a runaway score of 447 points. Andover was the closest competitor, and they finished with 409. Thirty-eight points in a four-skier meet is a huge margin of victory, and really proved the boy's claim as a top team.
Just like their NWSC meets, the girls performed brilliantly, but there was a team that was just a hint better on that day. In the conference, it's been Centennial almost all year, but this time, it was the South Metro's Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars.
Centennial actually competed in the meet, but they finished in fifth place overall.
Sheila Stephani earned the top spot on the Wildcats' lineup, finishing in second place overall in the 99-girl meet. Her combined time of 1:23.21 was only a few seconds behind Jefferson's Brenna Murray, who won the meet with a 1:20.69.
Katie Rayer finished in eighth place in the meet with a combined time of 1:28.45. She was the only other Wildcat to break the top 15, and that lack of a dynamic third skier is what tripped up the 'Cats in the long run.
Araya Gamble and Teresa Sandberg were the next Wildcats to show up in the standings, and they were right next to each other in 20th and 22nd place. Gamble finishined in a combined 1:38.38 and Sandberg earned a combined 1:41.56.
The point total for those four girls ended up at 348, which was only 10 points behind the Jaguars, who won with a 358. Besides Murray in the top spot, the Jags' Caitlin Fontaine finished in sixth, Erin Hansen finished in seventh and Ashley Anderson finished in 28th. That third skiier in the top seven is what propelled Jefferson to the big win.
Northfield actually tied with Chisago Lakes at 348, but the tiebreaker was the fifth skiier. CL's Amanda Houle had a combined time of 1:47.83, which put her in 34th place, and it was just enough to edge out Northfield's Claire Little, who finished in 1:50.12 in 38th place.
Northwest Suburban Conference Invite
It was back to the usual lineup of teams when the Wildcats came back for a NWSC tangle with their only big threats of the year so far in conference, Centennial.
The boys, who had been dominating the match up for most of the year, faltered a bit while the Cougars stepped up their game a level.
The 'Cats top six guys game from the top 26 skiers, but only one came in the top 10, and that's where Centennial made up the point difference.
Dan Koski and Tyler Regenscheid of Centennial claimed the top two spots in the meet, while Brandon Schmall earned fifth place. A Wildcat didn't make an appearance on the leaderboard until Wagner came in at sixth place with a combined time of 53.24 seconds.
Corbin Peterson and Mark Sandgren came in back-to-back in 11th and 12th place, but the Cougars cancelled that out with a finish at 14th place from Dillon Marquis.
The 'Cats battled back as Jake Sandgren came in 16th place with a time of 56.83 seconds, but Centennial still had a sizeable lead.
Hogan Haas and Joe Cartier came in 23rd and 26th, respectively, to round out the varsity scoring for Chisago Lakes. Graham Mansell was the fifth Cougar to show up on the leaderboard, finishing in 25th place, but that left a glimmer of hope for the 'Cats.
If the next Centennial skiier didn't finish higher than 45th place, CL could overcome their mistakes and squeak out the victory.
It just wasn't meant to happen, though, as Dan Seiberlich of Centennial finished in 36th place to give the Cougars a nine-point victory over Chisago Lakes.
In a two-horse race again, the girls squad came up just short of Centennial again despite having three of the four top finishers.
The Wildcats had a huge lead for a while, but they couldn't get a solid sixth score, and that doomed them against the always deep and balanced Centennial team.
Stephani continued her impressive season, finishing in 63.74 seconds to earn the top spot in the 63-girl meet. She won it by a large margin too, as second place went to CL's Sandberg, who finished the meet in 67.32 seconds.
Sandberg's finish was her highest of the year, and her highest as a varsity skier for the Wildcats.
Rayer continued the Wildcats impressive run atop the standings with a 68.25 second combined time, which was good enough to put her in fourth place in the meet.
Gamble and Houle kept the Cougars at bay in the standings when they finished in 10th and 14th, respectively. Gamble finished the meet in a combined 74.35 seconds and Houle finished in a combined 74.59 seconds.
Centennial made up the difference when Chisago Lakes' next skier didn't show up until 35th place. Centennial had finishers at 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 25th and 27th.
In the end, the Cougars just edged CL again with a 371. The Wildcats were 17 points behind with a 354. Blaine was the third place team, and they finished with a total of 266.