February 14, 2020

2020 Nordic Skiing State Meet Recap

Two schools that placed second during the 2019 Nordic Skiing State Meet took another step upward in capturing team championships a year later at Giants Ridge near Biwabik, Minn., on Friday, Feb. 14.

St. Paul Highland Park, spurred by individual pursuit champion Molly Moening, a sophomore, captured the girls championship for the first time in many state meet appearances. Forest Lake won the boys team title for the third time since 2014 by a razor-thin margin over Minneapolis Southwest. Mounds Park Academy senior Henry Snider rounded out the field of champions by winning the two-race boys’ pursuit chase.

Moening is the first individual champion from the St. Paul City Conference since 1993 when St. Paul Central’s Barb Jones won the final of her three crowns. In 2006, St. Paul Central’s Claire Luby won the freestyle race, but did not win the pursuit crown.

Moening, who entered the state meet ranked third in Minnesota and placed sixth in 2019, had the second-fastest time following the 5-kilometer freestyle race. She recorded a time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds, which was 12 seconds behind Stillwater senior Elizabeth Tuttle, who entered the meet ranked second.

By virtue of her finish in the freestyle, Tuttle had a 12-second advantage to begin the 5K classical race. Moening wiped out that deficit with the fastest time in the classical in 16:01. Her combined time of 32:16.1 was nearly a full minute faster than Tuttle, who was runner-up in 33:08.5

Forest Lake freshman Jordan Parent was third in 33:29 and Wayzata junior Lauren McCollor, who entered the meet top ranked, placed fourth in 33:56. Mounds Park Academy freshman Margo Nightengale rounded out the top five in 33:59. Nightengale also participated in the Alpine Skiing State Meet two days earlier.

St. Paul Highland Park became the first St. Paul City Conference School two win a Nordic Skiing state championship. In 1991, St. Paul Central won a state title when it was identified as a cross country skiing state meet.

The Scots finished with 408 points, 12 better than Forest Lake, which was second with 396. Stillwater third with 361, while Duluth East and Edina had 356 and 349, respectively.

In addition to Moening, also scoring for Highland Park were junior Celeste Alden, junior Anna Schmidt and sophomore Rayna Axelson.

Snider, who also finished sixth overall in 2019, had to come from behind, too, to capture the pursuit championship. He was in fourth position following the 5K freestyle with a time of 14:10. That was 12 seconds behind Robbinsdale Armstrong junior Roger Anderson, who led the field with a time of 13:58.

In a dazzling finish, Snider caught Anderson during the 5K classical race to win by six-tenths of a second. Snider’s final pursuit time was 28:24.2, compared to 28:24.8 for Anderson, who was 16th overall in 2019. Maple Grove senior Clark Young was third in 28:56.9, Ely junior Jasper Johnston was fourth in 29:02, while Wayzata junior Colin Freed completed the top five with a time of 29:03.

Snider is the first individual Nordic Skiing champion from this school.

The chase for the team title also was a narrow one. Forest Lake and Minneapolis Southwest tied with 401 points apiece, but the Rangers captured the crown after tie-breaking criteria was used. It is the Rangers’ seventh boys title since 2005.

Leading the way for Forest Lake were sophomore Noah Erickson, senior Ethan Erickson, senior Nick Parent and junior Jonathan Hudrlik.

Behind Minneapolis Southwest in third was St. Paul Highland Park with 357 points. Ely was fourth with 335 and Maple Grove was next at 330.