Eagan boys Nordic qualifies for state for the second straight year
Eagan’s Hedblom, Burnsville’s Hett win respective section titles
by Andy Rogers
The ISD 196 boys Nordic team has plenty to cheer about after the Section 1 meet on Tuesday at Trollhaugen in Dresser, Wis.
Seven of the top 12 placers were wearing ISD 196 ski outfits, and the Eagan boys team edged out Lakeville North, which had the top two racers, by seven points to send the entire team to state.
Nick Acton was Eagan’s top placer, coming in third. Josh Podpeskar placed sixth, and teammates Jacob Edmond (11th), Ryan Larson (12th), Jacob Carlson (43rd), Chris Acton (45th) and Patrick Acton (51st) finished fast enough to qualify, all as underclassmen. Larson is in his first year, coming in with a hockey background, and both Podpeskar and Edmond made drastic strides from a year ago.
Eagan qualified as a team in 2011, although several of its top skiers were seniors. Nick Acton was one of them, placing 67th overall.
“I wasn’t very happy last year,” Nick Acton said. “I’d like to do a lot better this year than fifth. The whole team is going to have to step it up and I think we can do it.”
The Eagan boys combine with fellow ISD 196 schools Rosemount, Apple Valley and Eastview during the season. Rosemount’s Nick Couillard (fourth in the section) will make a return trip to the state meet along with David Bumgarner (ninth) and former teammate Apple Valley’s Rhett Carlson (eighth).
They were all part of a combined ISD 196 team that won the South Suburban Conference championship earlier this month.
“I wish we could compete as one team, but we obviously did fine as one Eagan team,” Nick Acton said. “I’ll cheer them on at state just like I would someone from Eagan. It’s weird thinking I’m going to compete against them.”
Nordic skiing was a popular sport at ISD 196, as it had the biggest roster in team history. Much of the large numbers can be attributed to the abundance of snow last season.
“People kept telling their friends how fun it was,” Nick Acton said. “With a lot less this time around, the fond memories remain. I feel like most people I’ve talked to are planning to come back. I think they all really enjoyed it.”
In Section 3 at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, Burnsville’s Mike Johnson qualified for state after finishing fifth overall.
The state Nordic meet is scheduled for Feb. 16 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
Burnsville has given Minnesota several quality skiers to represent the school at state and 2012 was no different. Vivian Hett won the South Suburban Conference title as well as the Section 3 title on Tuesday. She finished 11th last season as a freshman at state.
She will bring her entire team with her this time around. Thanks to Jordan Horner’s fifth place and Tori Felton’s eighth place finish along with Krista Bain, Jane Koch, Kjerstin Narvesen and Johanna Weber, the Blaze won the Section 3 title a few days after winning the South Suburban Conference title.
In Section 1, Eagan’s Sonja Hedblom blew the competition away in Dresser, Wis., as she qualified for her third state meet as a junior. Hedblom was 19th at state last season and the runner up in the South Suburban Conference championships. She finished 19th at state last season, but didn’t feel like it was her best effort.
“I really want to get top 10,” Hedblom said. “Last year it wasn’t my race. I can’t psych myself out when it’s warm like that. Last year it was a mess trying to get kick wax going.”
Last season the state meet featured rain and 40 degree weather.
The lack of snow this season has brought anxiety to skiers as well.
“When it’s really warm and sticky and there’s not such a great glide, it’s such a bummer,” Hedblom said. “But it wasn’t as bad as everyone imagined not having snow. Everyone is in the same position. We’ve all accepted the fact.”
Her teammate Eagan’s Roxanne Holt just made the cut to join her at state finishing in the final qualifying spot.
Andy Rogers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.