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Minneapolis Washburn senior follows brother to Alpine skiing title, Eagan eighth-grader wins girls' crown

By Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune, 02/12/20, 5:47PM CST


Luke Conway had the fastest boys’ time in both runs of the state meet at Giants Ridge while Sophia Palmquist edged the 2019 winner to take the girls’ individual championship.

Minneapolis Washburn senior Luke Conway, on his first run Wednesday at Giants Ridge, won the boys’ individual Alpine skiing state championship. Photos: BRIAN PETERSON • brian.peterson@startribune.com

BIWABIK, Minn. — For most of Wednesday, all Luke Conway could do was wait. The Minneapolis Washburn senior was the second skier down the mountain in the morning and third in the afternoon.

They were good runs. The best, it turned out after his wait.

“It’s kind of been a dream of mine my whole life,” said Conway, who won the boys’ Alpine skiing individual state championship at Giants Ridge.

Conway had the fastest time on both runs and his combined time of 1 minute, 10.44 seconds topped Edina sophomore Adam Berghult, who was a favorite entering the meet.

Conway’s victory makes it two state champions for the family. His older brother Patrick was the individual winner in 2006. That kind of legacy, alongside a lifetime of coaching from their dad, gave Luke the extra push he needed to top last year’s second-place finish.

“I feel really lucky, and I’m super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had,” he said.

Preps Insider podcast: Section finals, state tourneys and why we love this job.

With subzero wind chills persisting even as the sun came out for the afternoon run, Conway was more concerned with how hard to push through the slalom gates. The 17-year-old tried not to focus on his time after his first run, but he knew he held a thin lead.

“It was really nerve-racking,” he said. “I decided it was best to just do what I do, ski as I know how to ski and try to have some fun with it and hope it worked out. And it did, and I can’t ask for much more than that.”

His teammates hollered and hugged him in agreement.

Last year’s top individual finishers all moved up a place this year, with Conway improving from second to first and Berghult from third to second. This year’s third-place finisher, Minnetonka’s Eli Quist, finished fourth last year. Last year’s champion, Kaarl Damberg of Mounds View, graduated.

Lakeville South won its first Alpine team title, led by fourth-place finisher Kyle Wentworth and ninth-place John Olson. The team’s combined 160 points was enough to top second-place Stillwater’s 157. Minnetonka, with 146 team points, finished third.

Photo gallery: Alpine skiing state meet

Eighth-grader takes girls’ title

Sophia Palmquist, Eagan eighth-grader, Alpine skiing state champion, nice to meet you.

With a leading morning run and a nimble effort in the afternoon, Palmquist edged out the returning champion by a quarter of a second to take the girls alpine crown.

“It means a lot, it’s really cool to do it as an eighth-grader,” Palmquist said.

Coming into the state meet with a few victories this season after often finishing second or third, Palmquist’s speedy first run set the stage for the rest of her day.

Sophia Palmquist of Eagan on her second run.

“I thought the first run was really good, and it was a relatively straight course,” she said. “The second run was good, but it was a tighter course, so I had to be a little bit more quick. ... It was just to be quick and attack it.”

It was just enough.

With a combined time of 1:14.25, Palmquist squeaked by Lakeville North junior Peyton Servais’ time of 1:14.52 to deny her a back-to-back championship. Minneapolis Southwest senior Elsa Peterson took bronze.

Servais did lead Lakeville North to its first girls’ Alpine skiing team title with 165 points. Assisting that effort were strong finishes from Jane Steel and Abby Hahs.

Stillwater took second with 151 points, led by a seventh-place finish by Kirsten Anderson. Orono took third on a fourth-place showing by Cordelia Shorewood.

Nordic meet Friday

The Nordic skiing state meet, typically held the day after the Alpine meet, has been rescheduled for Friday because of a forecast of subzero temperatures threatening skier safety. The start time of the first race also was moved back 90 minutes, with first freestyle race scheduled for 11:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.

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