Sailor skiers race to historic finishes, remain focused on state | SteamboatToday.com

Sailor skiers race to historic finishes, remain focused on state

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They were the best results head coach Jesse Wilkins has seen in the two years he’s been with the Steamboat Springs High School's Nordic ski teams, and it was possibly the team's most dominating performance to date.

Steamboat skiers won both the mens and womens 5-kilometer mass start skate race at the Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park Saturday. Steamboat also topped the mens team standings, racing past league rival Battle Mountain by 12 points. The Sailors also placed second in the girls race, just two points behind the Battle Mountain girls.

"Overall, these are far and away the best team results I’ve seen as your coach of two years," Wilkins said. "More impressively, Pat (Gleason) says these are the best team results he’s seen in 20 years of doing this."

Gleason is a long-time assistant coach for the boys and girls programs.

On the boys side, Steamboat Springs Wyatt Mortenson posted the fastest time of the day — 15 minutes, 25.31 seconds —  en route to his first victory ever. He crossed the finish line in front of Eagle Valley's Tristan Wickland, who placed second at 15:50.73, and Middle Park's Vinny Troccoli, third at 15:50.99.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Tanner Richard, fourth at 16:01.04, and Chase Weynand, seventh at 16:12.71, to give the Sailors the 170 points the team needed to win the meet. Battle Mountain was second at 158, and Middle Park was third with 151 points.

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Steamboat also got a 12th place finish from Gabe Rabenal (16:45.35), a 15th from Andrew Henderson (16:51.82) a 26th from James Bradley (17:26.16), a 27th from Mitch Meissner (17:27.01) and a 30th from Quinn Wellman (17:34.13).

The girls just missed the top spot in the team event placing second with 170 points. The Battle Mountain girls won the race with 172 points, and Lake County was a distant third with 153 points

Steamboat's Annia Malacinski topped the girls results by completing the race in a time of 17:01.88 — the first individual victory of her young high school career. She was followed by Battle Mountain's Lizzy Harding in second at 17:18.79 and Steamboat's Winter Boese in third at 17:32.33.

Other top Steamboat finishers included Zoe Bennett-Manke in ninth at 18:59.48, Maggie Congdon in 17th at 19:45.55 and Loren Requist in 37th at 21:51.45.

Steamboat's Claire Bohmer placed 41st, Emma Stewart was 42nd, Thyme Zuschlag was 55th,  Claire Traverse was 60th and Mariposa Skove was 62nd.

"I think we started building some momentum last year, and it kept going," Wilkins said. "We got some talented skiers on the team last year, and they had a good time and they kind of let their friends know. I think we have kind of skied off the success that the track and cross country teams have had."

Wilkins said several of the team's athletes, including Boese and Congdon, also run cross country and will be starting track after the high school ski season ends in a few weeks.

The team will be looking for continued success Saturday in Aspen where the Sailors will take part in a pursuit race, which is a combination of both the freestyle and classic disciplines

"It’s a mass start classic in the morning and depending on where you finish that determines where you will start in the individual skate race in the afternoon," Wilkins said. "So this is the one that basically counts twice. It's a big opportunity for us to get some of our kids, that didn't quite make it in previous races, get an opportunity to get those kids qualified."

The Snow Mountain Ranch race was the team’s third event of the season. After the pursuit race near Aspen, the Sailors will compete in a mass start classic race at Maloit Park in Minturn on Feb. 17.

The state skiing championships will be hosted by Lake County High School on Feb. 22and 23, with the Nordic events taking place at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center and the Alpine events taking place at Ski Cooper.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.