Wisconsin State High School Championships Predictions
Welcome to the 2014 Wisconsin High School Nordic Championship! And your chance to be a lottery winner-without money. Nothing like inspiration for a professional predictor to face a blank page with. Let's dig in, summon up some “Sisu” and see how this year's field stacks up, along with some statistical analysis, minus the numbers; never was that good at that math thing.
Telemark Lodge(with the ghost lodge in the background-think “The Shining”), Cable, WI February 7-9 is going to be rock'n with high energy skiers, parents, and attending spectators, volunteers, and hangers' on, all ready to see what shakes out with two days of racing. Saturday, February 8 kicks off the excitement with a seeded field headed out at 15 second individual starts to freestyle on the recently developed 5 kilometer course.
A new Conference results format will take the top six finishers at each conference (plus some added in for various reasons) into the Elite class. Other skiers will fall into A, B, and C groupings with Mr. Computer then scrambling things in each group to have the ultimate in a well planned and seeded start. Of course each skier, whatever the seeding has to go out and do what they do on course, with the track rule in effect for one and all.
But conference results alone are just a snapshot, they don't dictate the winner, and conditions, courses, and adrenaline (along with a totally hip playlist on the PA) means that what we say here may not happen there. (Official disclaimer). Did I forget to mention phases of illness (as well as the moon), totally outstanding wax jobs, and the unpredictability of teenagers? Oh well, I'm an experienced professional. Read closely and place your bets.
The girls lead out on the schedule so we'll start with them. Individually, Erin Bolger, Lakeland looks like the leader. She stomped at the BIG Mesabi Invitational, with a third in the freestyle division, won Conference by two minutes (also a skate), and had a solid eighth at the Mt Itasca qualifier in a deep field, indeed skating. So, while on paper there's no one in the park for skating, her classic is less strong, opening the door to...? Well, Emma Barnes, Iola, is in much the same twisted position, know primarily for classic expertise, but the skate form is coming up. Maria Gesior, Peak Nordic, also has had some fine finishes, the most recent being a trouncing of the field at the Southern Conference meet. Liz Slaby, Ashwaubenon could also enter into the formula, especially in the Sunday classic pursuit. Wild cards (but not out of the running for podium places) would be Victoria Trantow, MadNorSki, Ruthie Barbour, Peak Nordic, and both Lily Kraft and Anna Zajakowski, Iola.
The boys have a couple of couple of clear leaders and standing out as the number one contender is Dan Delestry, Chippewa Valley. Currently ranked number six in MW points in the strong U18 class, he's controlled almost every event where there's been a strong field of Wisconsin skiers. If he has an Achilles heel, it seems to be his classic technique. If he's able to take the first day FS he'll have a nipping pack of wolves looking for a blood trail on Sunday. Leading that pack may be the MadNorski's Gabe Forest, the Lakeland duo of Mac FitzPatrick and Will Bodewes, with Hayward's Aaron Ostrander and Peak's Chayce Roeker, along with the Delestry teammate, Ben Theyerl. Of course a dark horse that may just come storming through the field on Sunday's Classic Pursuit is Ashwaubenon's Michael Jarzin. He ranks second on the MW U16 list, just behind MadNorSki's Henry Gore, and while something of a classic specialist, as Henry is heavy on the skate, either one of these young men could be turning heads.
The girls' team prediction has to start with last year's champs, Lakeland. While they lost state champion, Delaney Fitzpatrick to graduation, they have a solid three with Bolger leading the way and then, depending on technique and day, Carli Capacio, Lily Johnson, Sophia Weiss, and Emily Kubisiak, all able support staff. Could happen. But with spoiler intent, comes the day and time for the Iola girls to lend drama. Seniors Emma Barnes and Lily Kraft will be joined by freshmen twins Anna and Maya Zajakowski and that may be it, the winning team. However, waiting in the wings, not so quietly is the Peak Nordic team with Gesior, Barbour, and Julianna Dodd all itching for a fight. And on relatively home turf, the Hayward Hurricanes, with Emily Burger (of the Burger family household, dating back to the inception of the event), freshman Alexia Abric, and a recovering Keely Jackson, all ready to make things interesting.
The boys' team is also a flashback: MadNorSki, last years' champions are poised for a repeat. With Gabe Forest, Jalen Betsinger, and frosh, Henry Gore in attendance they are poised for a devastating opening skate leg. But wait! There's a fly in the ointment, that classic technique continues to be elusive for this trio opening the door for others, perhaps more balanced. Not too far off the back in skating lies Lakeland, with the dynamic duo of Mac FitzPatrick and Will Bodewes chomping at the bit. Now if they can only get a third up to speed. At the same time, 4-H Canski has the stuff also to knock off the defending champions with Ian and Colin Liphart, along with senior Kevin Geisen ready to give it a go. And let's not forget Ashwaubenon with Andrew Bailey, Michael Jarzin, and Kevin Berg primed for bear and pushing hard. Also on the rise is the talented trio of Chippewa Valley's Dan Delestry, Ben Thererl, and Bjorn Lindstedt. So while in the driver's seat, the Madison boys could get whiplash looking over their shoulders at the closing field behind them.
So there it is, another yearly stab in the dark. My guess is that with predicted stable temperatures and snow conditions (hmmm, maybe I should go into meteorology) waxing is not going to be a key issue. That brings us to individual and teams peaking at the right moment, crowd energy, ability to dive deep into the “pain locker”, and a sense of destiny; the here and now, “this is my time” emotional and mind control. I know I'm going to be out of control. See you there.