The Little Falls girls Nordic ski team will look to prolong its prodigious run of section championships this winter, eyeing a ninth trip to state in a row.
To do so, the Flyers will need to fill the holes left by a graduating class of five skiers that included all-state Mattia Hendrickson as well as Chelsea Rutz, Chloe Houle, Josie Lange and Kristen Gotfredson.
“With the graduation of five talented seniors from last year’s squad, younger skiers will have to take up the challenge if they want to continue the tradition of heading to Biwabik (site of state meet) as a team in February,” Little Falls head coach Terry Wasland said. “We believe we can get there, but it will take dedication and hard work.”
The Flyers do bring back considerable experience and talent to accomplish the task, led by Granite Ridge Conference individual champion and all-state senior Maria Hauer, as well as state meet participants in senior Kaitlin Geisenhof, sophomores Amelia Kresha and Claire Gammon-Deering and freshman Kendal Hendrickson.
Wasland expects the competition for the remaining varsity spots to be intense, with the possibility of a different looking roster from week to week early on.
Among those vying to step in are juniors Carlie Sobiech, Abby Segler and Mikayla Gottwalt, sophomores Elizabeth Becker, Autumn Zupko and Hannah Veillette, freshmen Nika Gammon-Deering, Christy Masog, Savanna Slettom and Jillian Cox and eighth-graders Anna McNamara, Ali Foote and Catherine Zack.
The Flyers girls finished fifth at state last season.
On the boys side, returning state entrant senior Matt Massmann and fellow all-conference senior John Gottwalt will lead the Flyers, along with section team members in juniors Michael Carll and Ethan Crocker and sophomore Gunner Kleinschmidt.
Expected to contribute as well will be junior Hunter Kleinschmidt, sophomore Christian Ganz, freshman Seth Crocker and eighth-grader Hunter Zupko.
Brian McNamara and Isaiah Korver graduated from last year’s boys roster.
“We have a great group of motivated young people who are working hard each day preparing for the arrival of snow,” Wasland said. “Our senior leadership is outstanding and I believe they will lead this team to an excellent season.”
Weather permitting, Little Falls is scheduled to open the season at St. Cloud Tech, Thursday, Dec. 5.