The Hastings Raiders boys' and girls' Nordic (cross-country) ski teams competed in the Metro East Conference championship meet last week and freshman Linnea Urban came home a champion after running away with the girls' race. Behind her was fellow freshman and teammate Emma Bratvold as the runner-up. For the boys, sophomore Trevor Caflisch finished second after falling victim to some semi-controversial strategy. As teams, the Hastings girls finished third with 435 points behind Henry Sibley and Mahtomedi, while the boys took fifth with 399 points.
Metro East Conference champion
Urban would not be denied as she separated herself from the field in the first part of the race, called the classic race. She finished 23 seconds ahead of Bratvold, who was in second, in the classic portion and set herself up beautifully for the pursuit race, though it was not a true pursuit, which will come into play later.
Urban (15:19 time in the first race) got to start 23 seconds ahead of the field for the pursuit race and extended that lead by almost a minute to finish approximately a minute and a half in front of her teammate (with a pursuit time of 13:08.7 and final time of 28:28). Bratvold was second with a classic time of 15:42, a pursuit time of 14:07.2 and a total time of 29:49. The two Hastings racers finished far ahead of the rest of the field as Bratvold was two minutes ahead of the third-place finisher.
"Oh by far it was her best race," head coach John Dewall said. "She's peaking at the right time and she's flying on those skis."
Caflisch takes second
In the usual pursuit race, the skiers go out in the same order they finished the classic race. If you led the classic race by 10 seconds, you would get a 10 second head start over the second-place skier and the goal was to let no one catch you, hence the name "pursuit". Whoever crossed the finish-line first in the pursuit portion won the race no matter where they started from or how long it took.
However, at the MEC championship race the rules were tweaked. The best total combined time of the classic and pursuit race won, so it did not matter what order racers crossed the finish-line after the pursuit race depending on their time.
Sophomore Trevor Caflisch trailed junior Ben Church of Henry Sibley by 18 seconds after the classic race, but managed to catch Church partway through the pursuit race, according to Dewall. Dewall said that Church managed to stick right behind Caflisch, and in racing-terms "drafted" (stick close behind the racer behind you and let the wind hit them and pass over you, lessening your wind resistance and making the person in front do more work). Caflisch led the rest of the race. Church knew that as long as he finished close enough behind Caflisch, then he would still win despite being caught and losing the pursuit race. That is exactly what happened, as Caflisch finished 16 seconds ahead of Church to win the pursuit race but still two seconds behind Church to end up taking second. Caflisch finished the classic race in 13:47 and the pursuit in 11:30 for a final time of 25:17, two seconds behind Church.
For the rest of the girls' team, seventh-grader Abby Bratvold took 15th with a combined time of 36:12; junior Savannah Henderson was 28th in 40:27 and seventh-grader Molly Caturia placed 32nd with a time of 43:36.
On the boys side, junior Ben Bratvold took 14th with a time of 29:48, freshman Sam Rabaey was 25th in 32:40, fellow freshman Kyle Stoltz finished 34th in 35:03, and junior Austin Weeks placed 38th (36:55).
"Trevor had a great race, (and) Ben Bratvold and Sam Rabaey did well," Dewall said. "Kyle Stoltz, they had some solid performances. For the girls, obviously Linnea and Emma, you've got Abby Bratvold, she did really well, then Savannah Henderson and Molly."
Hastings has the section and state meets left this season. The section meet is on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Hyland Park in Bloomington where the Raiders usually practice. The top two teams and then six individuals qualify for the state meet, which is the following week at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, where the alpine ski state meet will also be held.