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Alpine skiing: East Ridge boys race to state

East Ridge racer Mike Youngstrom and the Raptors qualified for the state alpine meet for the second straight year on Wednesday at the Section 4 meet. (Staff photo by Mike Longaecker)1 / 2
East Ridge alpine racer Abby Eggers qualified for state as an individual at Wednesday's Section 4 meet. (Staff photo by Mike Longaecker)2 / 2

The Raptors will get another run at it.

The East Ridge boys alpine ski team qualified for the state meet for the second year in a row on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Wild Mountain Ski Area.

The Raptors will look to build on last year’s seventh place finish – a mark the team’s coach said is attainable.

“They’re going to try to go as hard as they can,” said Kevin Seipel, who coaches the Park Woodbury and East Ridge (PWER) alpine teams. “Especially with three seniors, they’re not going to be holding anything back. I think we have a chance to do well.”

The three District 833 public high schools train together under the same coaching staff but compete as separate teams throughout the year.

East Ridge finished second in Section 4 in the 20-team meet. The Blake School took first place.

Woodbury took fifth in the race, while Park finished in 15th place.

Seipel said he expects this year’s East Ridge team to put their experience from last year’s state meet to work for them. Four of the team’s six racers have now participated in the state meet and will know what they’re up against.

“They were a little bit awestruck last year,” Seipel said.

Several of the teams will be familiar opponents for East Ridge, which competes in the Suburban East Conference (SEC).

Two other SEC teams qualified for state – Stillwater and Forest Lake, in addition to Blake, which East Ridge saw at sections. Seipel said the strength of SEC competition means his Raptors are even more battle-tested.

“It just shows how hard a conference it is,” he said.

The state meet is Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

The Raptors’ section team is comprised of sixth-place overall finisher Holton Sailer, Oliver Kennedy (8th), Mike Youngstrom (20th), Allesandro Amores (56th), Collin Mead (78th) and Philip Brady (83rd).

The Raptors will be joined at state by Woodbury racer Cole Brueshoff, who qualified as an individual. He finished 13th overall.

Qualifiers for the individual race are comprised of each member of the state qualifying teams, as well as the top 10 finishers not on state-qualifying teams.

That means Woodbury racer Jack Midtlien just missed qualifying for what would have been his third straight state meet. The sophomore skidded out on his second run, which dropped him into 22nd place overall.

Park’s Dan Rogers also turned in a strong performance, finishing 24th overall in the 126-skier field.

On the girls side, East Ridge’s Abby Eggers – the highest finisher among PWER racers – will also compete at state individually.

She skied to a tie for 17th place with an Academy of Holy Angels racer.

Eggers’ performance buoyed the East Ridge girls team, which finished one slot out of state contention – third place. Woodbury girls skied to 10th place, while Park finished 16th at sections.

Woodbury’s top finishers were Madison Wall (20th place) and Cheyenne Warren (26th). Park’s top finisher was Julia Deschler (68th) while the Wolfpack’s Emily Long skied to 76th place.

Seipel said the future looks bright for almost all facets of the PWER team.

Perhaps poised for the most success in 2014-15 is the Woodbury boys team, Seipel said. The team carried nary a senior this year and has strong ninth and 10th-grade talent that could make the Royals contenders for several years.

“I really look for them to move up from fifth (place at sections),” Seipel said.

Though the Woodbury girls graduate four seniors this year, a talented group of eighth, ninth and 10th-graders will move on, including Wall (10th grade) and Warren (eighth grade).

The East Ridge girls team, which graduates just one senior this year, also looks to be a contender next year. Seipel noted that the Raptors’ top four racers this year are only sophomores.

“They should be really good,” he said.

Seipel also had high hopes for the Park boys and girls team, which boasts more underclassmen talent.

“They should be really good in the future,” he said.

If there’s a question mark heading into 2014-15, it’s the East Ridge boys. The team will be depleted of much of its state-qualifying talent and “will be retooling for sure,” Seipel said.

But, he added, “you never know.”

-Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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