In today’s spectator-sports-mad society, it’s easy to get caught up in winter’s basketball-hockey duo and forget that plenty of other winter sports are taking place. Kids also dedicate themselves to sports with a lower profile, often in front of just a smattering of moms and dads and other fans.
Saturday was a day of striding, splashing and soaring, with some of the biggest meets of season taking place in Nordic ski racing, boys’ swimming and gymnastics.
More than 1,000 cross-country skiers congregated at Giants Ridge Ski Area and braved temperatures that hovered around zero to take part in the Mesabi East Invitational, billed as the largest high school Nordic ski racing meet in the nation.
The Forest Lake boys and Stillwater girls took home team championships. Boys’ individual winners were Garrett Beckrich of Grand Rapids in the classic race and Peter Moore of St. Paul Academy in the freestyle race.
The girls’ champions were Siri Bohacek of Stillwater (classic) and Hannah Bettendorf of Proctor/Hermantown (freestyle).
You didn’t need to drive to the Iron Range to find a high-caliber Nordic ski racing event, however. The Loppet Invitational took place at Wirth Park in Minneapolis, with participation limited to 16 boys’ and 16 girls’ teams. Mae Barnes of Armstrong and Ben Olson of Blaine were classic race victors, while Matthew Clarke of Bloomington and Jessica Messner of Northfield took first place in the freestyle race.
The biggest boys’ swimming meet of the year was held at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Most of the top teams in the state took part, with the teams divided among four brackets according to strength.
Minnetonka, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, took first place in the Gold Division, the highest bracket, while Breck/Blake, No. 1 in Class 1A, was sixth.
Individually, the meet’s star was Lakeville North junior Andrew Trepanier, who set meet records in the 50 freestyle (20.50) and 100 freestyle (45.55).
In the world of gymnastics, the MGGOA (Minnesota Girls’ Gymnastics Officials Association) Invitational proved two things: The best team in the state is in Class 1A (Detroit Lakes) and having the word “Lake” in your school name seems to be a prerequisite for a successful programs.
Detroit Lakes, the three-time defending 1A team champion, won the meet handily with a team score of 148.9. Lakeville North, No. 1 in Class 2A, was second, and Lakeville South finished third.
There were more than 170 basketball and hockey games played across the state Saturday, including Duluth East’s 4-2 victory over No. 1, 2A Minnetonka, but, for one day at least, those sports played second fiddle.
The week ahead:
Tuesday: Lakeville North at Apple Valley, 7 p.m.
Friday: Northfield at Rochester John Marshall, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Eastview at Lakeville South, 7 p.m.
Friday: Hopkins at Wayzata, 7 p.m. Wayzata is undefeated and No. 2 in Class 4A; Hopkins is No. 3.
Saturday: Hermantown at Minnetonka, 7 p.m.; Hill-Murray vs, Mahtomedi, at St. Croix Rec, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Minnetonka vs. Edina, at Braemar, 7 p.m.