Lady Lakers sweep podium at cross-country state championships; Sugar Bowl’s Halvorsen wins boys’ race
- Bjorn Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl) – 16:17.3
- Matt Seline (Truckee) – 16:24.2
- Steffen Cuneo (Truckee) – 16:32.2
- Etienne Bordes (North Tahoe) – 16:45.4
- Phoenix Sanchez (North Tahoe) – 16:59.2
- Kili Lehmkuhl (North Tahoe) – 20:29.0
- Alani Powell (North Tahoe) – 21:24.4
- Mera Schoonmaker (North Tahoe) – 22:36.3
- Kendall Kelly (Truckee) - 22:57.3
- Sonny Strusinski (Truckee) – 23:08.2
The California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation cross-country state championships were held today under sunny, warm conditions at Auburn Ski Club.
A trio of skiers from the North Tahoe girls’ team shot out to an early lead, and then steadily pulled away for a sweep of the podium; while Sugar Bowl junior Bjorn Halvorsen captured the state title in the boys’ race.
The boys were the first to hit the course, which featured a 3.3-kilometer lap on classic skis and another 3.3-kilomter lap on skate skis. Halvorsen emerged from the trees near the end of his first lap with the lead but Truckee sophomore Matt Seline was close behind. During the transition from classic to skate, Halvorsen struggled with one of his skis, allowing for Seline to take the lead.
“I accidentally put on my left ski and didn’t click in the binding properly,” said Halvorsen. “It went off and slid away from me.”
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Halvorsen quickly caught up to Seline and drafted behind him for roughly 1.5 kilometers before making his move and retaking the lead for good. Halvorsen reached the finish line with a time of 16 minutes, 17.3 seconds to claim this year’s individual state championship.
“It’s cool to come back and see that I’m still up here racing with these fast boys and still competing with them,” said Halvorsen, who grew up in the area, but lived in Idaho last year.
Seline, who won a mountain biking state championship last fall, was second, reaching the finish line with a time of 16:24.2. Last year’s state champion, Truckee senior Steffen Cuneo, finished in third place with a time of 16:32.2. North Tahoe junior Etienne Bordes was fourth with a time of 16:45.4, followed by teammate and fellow junior, Phoenix Sanchez, who claimed fifth place with a time of 16:59.2.
As a team, North Tahoe captured the state title with a low score of 25 points, edging Truckee by two points. Sugar Bowl Academy was third with 51 points.
The Lakers also had Nikolas Burkhart (17:40.3) in seventh place, and Cooper Honeywell (17:51.8) in ninth to round out the team’s scoring skiers.
Truckee had Mathew Deluna (17:51.2) take eighth, and Logan Selander (20:49.0) in 14th place.
Sugar Bowl also had Bodhi Kuzyk (17:31.4) in sixth place and Pascal Wettermark (19:35.1) in 13th place.
Lady Lakers sweep podium
The North Tahoe girls’ team came into the race with only a trio of skiers in the lineup, and placed each on the podium, dominating the course behind the three fastest times of the day.
North Tahoe junior Kili Lehmkuhl followed up last fall’s cross-country running state championship by transitioning to snow and claiming a Nordic state title. Lehmkuhl built a sizeable lead going into the transition, and then added to it during the skate portion of the race to finish more than 55 seconds ahead of second place with a time of 20:29.0.
“It means a lot,” said Lehmkuhl on winning a state title along with her teammates claiming silver and bronze. “We’ve been doing super well all season, and so just to have another podium is really cool … it’s pretty normal at this point in the season.”
North Tahoe junior Alani Powell was second place with a time of 21:24.4.
“Just trying to have the best technique really helps,” said Powell on the key to being fast on a warm day.
Junior teammate, Mera Schoonmaker, claimed third place, finishing with a time of 22:36.3. Schoonmaker said the transition between classic and skate skiing, which is unique to the state championships in terms of the high school season, was a key element in posting a fast time.
“You just got to bring your heart rate down … and just be calm about it,” she said.
Truckee’s Kendall Kelly claimed fourth place with a time of 22:57.3, followed by junior teammate Sonny Strusinski in fifth place with a time of 23:08.2.
As a team, Truckee claimed the state title with a low score of 24 points, followed by North Tahoe with 28 points, and South Tahoe with 58 points.
Truckee’s other scoring skiers were Petra Kidd (23:58.3) in seventh places, and Annalea Rost (24:18.3) in eighth place. The Lakers only had three skiers in the event, resulting in a score of 28.
Middle School results
The state championships for middle school athletes were also contested today at Auburn Ski Club.
Mammoth eighth grader Dane Karch took first place in the boys’ race. North Tahoe eighth grader Azure Sanchez was second, followed by Mammoth eighth grader Cabot Godoy.
On the girls’ side, Alder Creek eighth grader Keira Scott took first place. Mammoth eighth grader Ella Walker was second, and Mammoth sixth grader Lila Creasy was third.
Many of the area’s top racers will return to Auburn Ski Club next month to compete against the best in the country at this year’s Junior Nationals.
The competition will run from March 8 to March 14, and will feature several different events. Auburn Ski Club is currently seeking volunteers to help put on the races. For more information, visit XCJuniorNationals2020.com.
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