Minnesota State Meet PreviewFebruary 12, 2024
We should all be celebrating the fact that we simply made it to the 2024 State Meet! It's quite remarkable given the snow drought this season. And the weather looks very favorable for the big dance with temps in mid teens to low 30s.
That said, the weather this season is playing a major role. First, the normal State Meet courses won't be used due to low snow conditions. Instead, the distance and sprint races will use a similar layout utilizing the machine-made snow largely from the Giants Ridge downhill area. The distance races will feature a 2.5K course, two laps, including a fairly long climb. The sprint courses cut out all of the flats and use the same long climb as the distance course. Maps and video preview.
- Classical races start at 10 am
- Freestyle pursuit races being at 2 pm
- Qualifying team sprints start at 10 am
- Team Sprint finals start at 1:30 pm
This year could possibly showcase some of the most competitive racing for the top of the podium. There is no clear favorite (Sydney Drevlow, Hopkins, would have been, but won't be competing again this year). Instead we've got a field of very closely matched athletes, of which any could hit that perfect set of the races and take the title.
For the boys, the key match up will mostly likely come down to senior Daniel McCollor, Wayzata, and Tommy Simmonds, Prior Lake/New Prague, taking on the rising freshman, Logan Drevlow, Hopkins. Drevlow got the best of McCollor at both their conference and section championships, but McCollor spent a good part of late January overseas racing at the U18 Nations event. Simmonds is the highest finisher from last year's State Meet and knows how to peak. There are a number of other top tier boys that could ruin that party at the top including Eddie Snider, MPA, (brother Henry is a former champ), Anders Westanmo, Bloomington Jefferson, and heck, take your pick from Duluth East: James Kyes, Paavo Rova, or Carl Morse.
Boys Prediction: McCollor, Drevlow, Kyes.
On the girls side, there is a similar theme. Freshman Linnea Ousdigian, Mounds View, will be taking on competition from elders including Della Bettendorf, Proctor/Hermantown, and Lydia Kraker, Duluth East, as well as St. Paul Highland Park's Hanna Koch. Ousdigian has been ripping up the U16 division this season and easily won the Mesabi East freestyle title over Kraker. Kraker however, is the best of the returning State Meet skiers, having virtually tied for the title last season. Bettendorf appears to be the one on form right now, winning the section 7 championship over a trio of Duluth East stars. Meanwhile Koch is the second best returning skier and has been posting top times all season. Other skiers hoping to make their way into contention include Hanna Wilsey, St. Louis Park, and Duluth East teammates Rowan Bixler and Liesl Cope-Schaeffe.
Girls Prediction: Bettendorf, Koch, Kraker.
The team competition is all about a dynasty. Duluth East is one of the perennial contenders, consistently turning out top skiers that feed off each other to form very strong squads. They are also the returning State champion in both boys and girls (are were second place the prior season), and as much as there is a sure thing, Duluth East should take the team titles again this year.
Making some kind of prediction on the remainder of the teams is a bit like drawing straws. The data is really weak for forecasting, especially head-to-head. So we tend to use the team sprint section results and then lean back on the teams with depth and historically strong performances.
Boys Team Prediction: Duluth East, Wayzata, Brainerd.
Girls Team Prediction: Duluth East, St. Louis Park, Stillwater.
Enjoy a rather unusual State Meet, one that should be very spectator friendly, and celebrate making through this very difficult season! Best of luck to all the teams.
We'll have same day coverage, as usual.