Intensified training got Wayzata junior Mara McCollor to the Nordic skiing state meet with confidence and the No. 1 ranking. Proper mind-set took hold from there, making her the Trojans’ first individual state champion.
“Race day is the culmination,” said McCollor, the Star Tribune Metro Girls’ Nordic Skier of the Year. “Everything leads up to that day. I tried to keep myself calm so that everything I’d done led to a great day.”
McCollor, fourth at state as a sophomore, worked her way into title contention through more summer skiing, more strength training and skiing on fall weekends during cross-country season.
She set the pace at state by winning the 5-kilometer skate race. Then she posted the second-best time of the day in the ensuing classic race. She won the pursuit title in a combined time of 31 minutes, 48.3 seconds.
A midseason victory at the Junior National Qualifier in Cable, Wis., gave McCollor momentum and a template.
“I was thinking about that race before state,” she said. “Not replicating it, exactly. But thinking about what went right that day.”
Wayzata coach Larry Myers called McCollor one of the nation’s top Nordic skiers in her age group. And he mentioned recent Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins as potential company.
“I know he has high expectations for me,” McCollor said. “My working toward that is what I hope coaches see, whether I get there or not.”