Rosie Hust of Orono took her first run during last year's Alpine state ski meet in Biwabik (LEILA NAVIDIemail@example.com)
Margie Freed is all about having fun. It doesn’t matter how high the stakes along the winding hills of a Nordic ski trail.
The Eastview senior will be making her fifth consecutive appearance in the girls’ Nordic skiing state meet Thursday morning at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn. She has improved on her finish in each of the previous three races.
Freed enters her prep finale as the favorite, ranked No. 1 in the final regular season poll by Skinnyski.com. She is coming off a third-place finish in the state meet in 2015.
“I’m going to treat it like any other race,” Freed said. “I’m going to go out and have fun, and do the best I can.”
Freed always has prided herself on finishing strong. The pursuit championship gets underway with a 5K freestyle race in the morning, followed by a 5K classical race in the afternoon.
“I prefer to be the chaser,” Freed said. “I like chasing somebody instead of running from them. It gives me something to work for.”
Another senior, Michaela Keller-Miller of Wayzata, excels in the same manner and could be Freed’s biggest challenger. She is ranked No. 2 and was the state meet runner-up a year ago.
“I want to leave on a good note,” Freed said.
Nine of the top 15 skiers from last year return.
In the boys’ race, Bloomington Jefferson senior Zak Ketterson is the overwhelming favorite. He is ranked No. 1, and won the event in 2014. He didn’t ski for his high school team last season. The top five finishers from a year ago all graduated.
New individual champions are assured in the both the girls and boys’ meets. Girls’ medalist Kate Hanson of Rochester Century graduated while boys’ champion Elliot Boman of Northfield is competing on the national circuit.
Orono junior Rosie Hust, the runner-up a year ago, heads the girls’ field. Six of the top 10 from 2015 will compete Wednesday.
“I had a good race last year,” Hust said. “I’ve raced a lot at Giants Ridge. I really like that hill, especially the steeper course. I’m not as good on the flat course.”
Hust will be accompanied by her teammates this season. The Spartans were the Section 5 runners-up, and advanced to the state meet as a team.
“You get a lot more support from your teammates when they are there racing, too,” Hust said. “It’s more comfortable even though it’s still an individual sport.”
The boys’ field appears wide open as five of the top seven individuals from last year are back. St. Paul Academy senior Peter Baker is the top returning qualifier, taking third in 2015.