Molly Moening (right) of St. Paul Highland Park passed Sydney Drevlow of Hopkins as they neared the finish line in the freestyle Nordic skiing race Thursday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Photos: ALEX KORMANN • firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly Moening of St. Paul Highland Park glistened Thursday as much as the fresh snow that fell overnight at Giants Ridge.
The junior became the second consecutive back-to-back girls’ individual champion in the Nordic skiing state meet with a time of 23 minutes, 53.4 seconds for the two-race meet in Biwabik, Minn. Wayzata’s Mara McCollor, who was in attendance, claimed the top spot in 2018 and 2019.
“Coming into today was more of an unknown,” an exuberant Moening said. “I had never raced on this course before today. It turned out to be really fun.”
The course was shortened from 5K to 4K for each race, and both the classical and freestyle events were held on the gold course. The freestyle is usually run on the silver course, not in use this meet.
“I prefer a little longer course,” Moening said. “I treated each race as a sprint.”
A much-needed snowfall the night before the meet covered any visible bare areas scattered around the course on Wednesday.
Molly Moening reacted after her second race.
She also posted the fastest time in the freestyle at 11:11.1. Her only obstacle was to make sure she didn’t fall victim to the heat. Nearly 160 skiers competed on a bright, sunny day with the temperature near 40 degrees.
“The hot weather was a little much,” Moening said. “I overheated a little bit, but we have to be prepared to race in all conditions.”
Her team couldn’t repeat as team champs though. Highland Park finished second behind Forest Lake. The Rangers accumulated 588 points en route to their first team championship.
“To finally get over the hump and win the state championship is a huge relief,” Forest Lake coach Ryan Wright said. “They went out and got the job done.”
The Rangers were the runner-up to St. Paul Highland Park last year and also finished second in 2018. Click here for full team results.
Sophomore Jordan Parent led the way for Forest Lake, finishing fifth in 24:49.2.
“Our No. 1 goal after last year was to win it,” said Parent, a seventh-grader on the Rangers’ 2018 team. “As this season went on we knew we could definitely do it. Our sights were set on winning.”
Senior Amelea Hauer of Forest Lake tried to catch her breath after crossing the finish line at the end of the freestyle Nordic ski race. Her efforts helped the Rangers win the team title for the first time.
Only Star Tribune photographer Alex Kormann attended the girls’ Nordic skiing state meet. This article was written based on telephone interviews after the competition.