North Tahoe, Sugar Bowl racers take top spots at state championships
Saturday morning brought warm temperatures and the top prep Nordic racers to the ASC Training Center for the California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation state championships.
The state competition was raced under a unique skiathlon format, as student-athletes battled across 6.6 kilometers and had to transition between classic and skate skiing disciplines.
“It’s such a different thing to do,” said boys’ state champion Jake Hacker. “It’s mentally hard because you go from one thing where you can’t skate ski and now all of a sudden you’re allowed to skate ski.”
Hacker, a senior at North Tahoe, managed the course better than anyone else to claim first place in the boys’ division by more than 11 seconds to finish with a time of 16 minutes, 59.3 seconds.
“It’s something I’ve been working hard for since freshman year,” said Hacker. “I’ve been skiing since I was 2 years old, so it’s awesome to finally pull it off and get the state win.”
Sugar Bowl’s Pascal Wettermark claimed third place with a time of 17:17.8, and was followed by teammate Matteus Sokulsky, who finished fifth with a time of 17:50.7.
Logan Selander led Truckee with a time of 18:17.4 to claim sixth place. Teammate Mathew Deluna was seventh with a time of 18:22.6
North Tahoe also had Sven Halvorsen take tenth with a time of 19:03.2.
As a team, Mammoth won the state championship with a low score of 30 points. Sugar Bowl was second with 33 points, followed by North Tahoe in third with 38 points. Truckee finished fourth with 78 points.
On the girls’ side, Sugar Bowl senior Hayden McJunkin dominated the course to win by nearly a minute. McJunkin picked up a pair of wins during the season and was the third skier to leave the starting gate, before moving ahead of the pack to cruise to the Nordic state title with a time of 19:45.9
“I’m really stoked about it. It’s my last race in a Sugar Bowl kit,” said McJunkin. “It’s really nice to end it on a good note, surrounded by girls who I’ve been racing against all season and seasons before that.”
McJunkin said it was her first time competing in a skiathlon due to missing the state competition the past two years.
“I ended up blowing up a little bit,” she said. “I went a little too hard in the classic section, and tried to just pull it back together for the rest of the skate.”
Her only mishap of the morning came as she approached the finish line when she accidentally hit a ski with her pole, causing a crash and brief delay in state championship celebrations.
“I polled my ski. It tends to happen when you’re going pretty hard and not focusing … I popped my ski and so much adrenaline that it took me a couple seconds to get back up, but I’m still happy with my race. Hopefully looking forward to less crashes at junior nationals.”
McJunkin and other local Nordic athletes will compete at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Junior National Cross-Country Ski Championships March 6 to 12 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Truckee’s Keira Scott was runner-up with a time of 20:40.8. Scott won a pair of regular season races this year. Teammate Maggie Cooke was third with a time of 21:48.9. Truckee’s Petra Kidd was sixth with a time of 24:07.3, and was followed by teammates Jayna Palmer (24:09.2) in seventh and Hannah Hammond (24:37.3) in ninth place.
As a team, the Truckee girls took the state title, finishing with a low score of 18 points.
In middle school racing, Sugar Bowl’s Quinn Holan won the boys’ state title. North Tahoe’s William Gregor was second followed by teammate Elio Adriani.
On the girls’ side, Britta Johnson led a North Tahoe sweep of the podium. Teammate Nikki Johnson was second, followed by Gabriella Jowers in third place.
1) Jake Hacker (North Tahoe) – 16:59.3
2) Dane Karch (Mammoth) – 17:10.6
3) Pascal Wettermark (Sugar Bowl) – 17:17.8
4) Cabot Godoy (Mammoth) – 17:35.0
5) Matteus Sokulsky (Sugar Bowl) – 17:50.7
1) Hayden McJunkin (Sugar Bowl) – 19:45.9
2) Keira Scott (Truckee) – 20:40.8
3) Maggie Cooke (Truckee) – 21:48.9
4) Mia Karch (Mammoth) – 23:10.3
5) Ella Walker (Mammoth) – 23:24.6
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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