It was a dream come true for seven skiers on the PWER alpine ski team as they each crossed the finish line at the state meet on Wednesday.
For some this was their first trip to the state meet, while others were there previous years, but it was a great opportunity to build friendships throughout the week.
"I always look forward to this week of the season," said head coach Scott Melander. "They are able to achieve their goal for the season and race in the state meet. I couldn't be more proud of these skiers."
The team left on Monday after school in a passenger van. For Annika and Emily Melander, it was a fun trip because they were able to hang out as a team all the way up to the state meet.
The meet took place at Giants Ridge Resort in Biwabik, Minnesota, and the PWER team was able to stay in a cabin at the resort for the time they were there. The Melander sisters were happy about staying at the resort because they were able to spend more time together.
On Wednesday, the race day, Scott Melander said he didn't see many nerves from the team until it was actually race time. Then, he had each skier take a deep breath and it seemed to calm down the nerves.
"My goal was to run two good runs at state and have some fun in the process," said Annika Melander. "I'm just glad I was able to do that and the entire day was so much fun."
On the girls side of the state meet, Emma Kate Koral from East Ridge was the top finisher for the PWER alpine team. She finished 29th overall for the girls with a time of 1:19.07.
Emily Melander from Woodbury came behind her in 40th place with a time of 1:21.23, while Grace Thomas from East Ridge ended her races in 66th place with a time of 1:25.62. Woodbury's Annika Melander was right behind Thomas in 67th place with a time of 1:26.13.
"I learned many different things from last year's state meet, so I tried to add that into my mentality this year," said Emily Melander. "The atmosphere and the actual slope are different than what we experience during the regular season, so having to adapt to those changes was big."
Alfonso Amores was the top finisher for the boys side as the East Ridge skier finished 37th overall with a time of 1:18.41. Zachary Cartier from Woodbury was the next finisher as he finished 61st overall with a time of 1:24.37.
Matthew Kelly was the final finisher for the team as he placed 73rd overall with a time of 1:38.03. Kelly was determined to ski in a difficult setting that can translate to a strong finish or a hard fall.
Kelly fell in his first run of the day, which brought him back in the leaderboard. He finished the day with a strong second run to build some confidence as he knew he had a strong run no matter what the standings say at the end of the day.
"All of these skiers had strong runs at the state meet and it's a great way to finish the season," said Scott Melander. "Hopefully, it brings some confidence and momentum in the offseason as they get ready for another year of alpine skiing next winter."