Wisconsin State High School Distance Championship Predictions

by Ken Schoville
February 28, 2024

OK, I’m going to admit that my attempt at predicting the Sprint Championship at Ariens Nordic Center, first weekend of February, was a little light on facts. I got the hot part right; klister, excitement, some drama, and sun scorched noses. In review, the right names were dropped, of teams, strengths, and gaps. Now to the final chapter of the bizarre and inspiring 2024 ski season.

The distance championships were originally planned for that second weekend of February, directly following the sprints. Didn’t happen. As to be expected, the folks over at the Birkie Start had a 50th planned and wanted to save every scrap of snow crystals they had, and more. Can’t blame them as they produced a modern miracle.

Now, after fulfilling that mirage of happenings, the happily ever after victories of Diggins and Schumacher, time to squeeze in a mish mash of a season finale. Yes, there will be a Distance Championship, just not in the same format as usual.

Due to cancellations in Rhinelander and Minocqua Winter Park the final Great Lakes JNQ and CXC Youth Festival got moved over and layered in with the Wisconsin High School Nordic Championship at the Birkie Start, Cable. To accommodate the various needs of all, concessions were made. A 3.3k loop x 2 will be the battleground for the JNQ/HS group while one lap will suffice for the Youth Cup/MS. Another change to keep things less complicated will be individual starts. For the high school and middle championship the two day’s results will be accumulated to name a pursuit champion.

Of course the absolute final placing should blend, once more, results from the two weekends, both individuals and teams. JNQ and Youth standings will be pulled from the high school/middle school results to produce the various teams being named.

Mother Nature continues to raise her fickle hand this year and the upcoming weekend will be no different. Current predictions are calling for a high of 55 on Saturday for the Classic and 60 on Sunday for freestyle. It is early March, so whatever…

Jack Dahlby

We’ll start with the boys, as that’s how the schedule flows. Two guys are in the running for the top spot; Jack Dahlby, Chippewa Valley Nordic and Owen Wick, Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team. Also in the hunt; Kristian Hudacek, CVN, Cole Anderson and brother Ian, Iola Winter Sports Club, Dietrich Mattison, Blackhawk, as well as Charlie Vater, Iola.

We have the “time trial” aspect of the weekend to factor in. Some skiers, and coaches, are better equipped for the ride, flying through the woods ASAP, with sometimes skiers around, but many times not. With 30 second intervals there is a fair gap to consider. With only so many coaches on course, giving only so many splits, there’s pacing to consider, and sometimes a “drifty” mindset, unlike a mass or pursuit where multiple bodies give the ski struggles another vibe. With a lack of head to head data/results, you can see some gray areas in the prediction game.

Klister for the classic should not be a problem. With plenty of opportunities to gain klister knowledge, every team should be equipped and knowledgeable. Skiers should have had skis dialed in for their various flex zones and had some experience kicking klister. However, some adapt better than others, athletes and coaches.

So for the boys I’m giving Owen Wick, ANST, the nod. He’s gone back and forth with Ian Anderson, Iola, and Kristian Hudacek, CVN, all winter. He comes from a team strong in the classic, can do well in freestyle, and is a senior, my pick for #1. Behind him, a roll of the dice. The aforementioned characters all feature big lungs, savvy coaches, good programs, and guts galore. May the best man win, place, and draw.

Owen Wick


Team wise, Iola seems ready to take the top spot with depth and ability. They lead from the sprint weekend and seem healthy. Having said that, ANST is five points back, and a slip here and there could upset the apple cart. Adding to the pressure is CVN with a group of strong motivated boys, only eight points out of first, close enough to smell the sweet spot of the top podium.

The individual girls have battled back and forth all season; JNQ’s, Iola, and the State Sprints. While some trends emerge, I think these results will go down to the wire. Josephine Kwasny and Greta Dickman, both IWSC, have to be in the mix. As teammates they swap back and forth on the high end of the results board and show no signs of stopping. Sure, one may sprint faster, one has a preferred technique, but when push comes to shove they are close competitors.

Josephine Kwasny

Throw Lauren Carlton, ANST, into the mix and she may split or top the two from Iola. Peak always has good girls, just a part of the team history and makeup. They led all teams at the Iola Meet in January, both free and classic. Granted there were some key players missing, but it was home turf for the Iola girls, usually an advantage. Not so on those two days. So now we can throw Anne Straka, Riley Grossklaus, Krin Blegen, and Sophia Jedlewska into the mix, and three out of four ain’t bad for scoring. When Someone’s down, the others pickup.

So, after the dust settles on Sunday, I see Greta Dickman, Iola, atop the podium. Good skiing friend Josephine Kwasny on one side, and Lauren Carlton on the other. Which side? Stay tuned as there will be a heated debate over the weekend ski trails.

The girl’s team seems less dramatic after the sprint weekend. IWSC leads with 148 points, PEAK 123, and ANST with 115. As frequently happens, a lot depends on number 3; and perhaps four and five as they act as displacers for scoring purposes.

I know there’s going to be some head shaking on this one, but I see Peak at the top of the Podium. Sure, there’s a fair number of points to make up to Iola, but I’ve seen motivated skiers before, and there are a lot of Peak skiers to motivate. Oftentimes numbers count, larger teams have a deeper bench and that translates to more scoring potential. IOLA number two spot, ANST third.

What a year. From the lows of endless snowless practices, also called extensive dryland, all the coaches of the state should get an extra bonus check added to their huge salaries. From the worst of times to the best, we’re riding the emotional Tsunami of the Wirth World Cup, to the Impossible Birkie 50th, to the 2024 Wisconsin High School Nordic Championship/GL JNQ/CXC YouthCup Festival. Let’s go out with a BANG!