Snow Mtn Ranch
Saturday January 27th
On Saturday, the MPHS Nordic team continued their march up the results board as they hosted their annual home event, a mass start 5K skate race at Snow Mountain Ranch. 83 women and 108 men made the early morning bus ride to test the course, which featured a 2.5 km climb right from the starting line followed by a blistering downhill finish. The MPHS athletes were excited to tackle the trails that they’ve trained for the past 2 months.
The day was not without challenges for race organizers. They had covered all the bases for an exciting and well-executed day of racing, with their large team of volunteers, a challenging well-groomed course and an organized venue. But they arrived at the Nordic Center and flipped the switch nothing happened. In fact a large portion of Snow Mountain Ranch was without power. But thanks to fast-acting volunteers the place was soon humming with generators, camp heaters and the sounds of young athletes gearing up for their race.
In addition several teams were caught up in I-70 accident traffic. A 1-hour race delay accommodated the morning’s challenges as well as giving racers warmer temperatures to race in on this clear cold morning. Mike Turner of Grand County TV18 and Jim Peterson of Peterson Sound Inc. donated their time and equipment to entertain the crowd with music and announce the race as it happened.
Just 5 points from the team podium, the MPHS women were 4th out of 12 teams. Senior Emily Jensen led the women in 8th place with a time of 18:49 with Elizabeth Barker (15th in 19:42) and Raelee Granger (20th in 19:53) also bringing home points for MPHS. All three had qualified for state meet at last week’s race. Second time was a charm for freshman Maggie Barker as she qualified for state with a time of 21:37. Also having strong performances for MPHS were Katelyn Cimino, Selena Stoncius and Emily Lantermans .
The men placed 3rd out of 14 teams, right on the heels of 2nd place powerhouse Battle Mountain High School, which fields a team double the size of the MPHS squad. Sophomore Vinny Troccoli continued his march up the standings finishing 3rd with a time of 15:50. Freshman Guy Gordon Granger also cracked the top 20 (11th in 16:40), junior Wil Cleveland had a breakthrough performance in 17:20 (22nd) and Kimo Sullivan brought home 29th (17:46). Aaron Sanders (34th), Ethan Callarman (39th), Eric Berry (45th) and Isaiah Callarman (48th) had outstanding races. All of these athletes have now qualified for state meet. Rounding out a strong team finish were Will Kuhns, Graydon Walker, Jeremy Peterson, Jonny Siefken and Evan Olsen.
The team will once again leave in the early morning darkness for the long trip to Aspen this Saturday as they compete in a pursuit race with a 5K classic race in the morning followed by a 3K skate race in the afternoon.
About MPHS Nordic Team: The Middle Park High School Nordic team is based out of Granby, CO and trains at Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center. The co-ed team welcomes all levels of experience, from seasoned racers to first-timers. This year 13 women and 16 men are suiting up to represent the MPHS Panthers. Several athletes also train and race, either full- or part-time, with the Winter Park Comp Center RMN (Rocky Mountain Nordic) team.
The team has been training 5-6 days a week since early November, which was quite a challenge early on given the dry conditions this year. Coaches designed a variety of dryland sessions to prepare the team for the season to include striding and bounding with poles, bootcamp-style strength and agility training in the gym, running and fun relays in the soccer dome. They’ve been training on snow since early December. Not only are these athletes tough competitors but they face challenging conditions even at practice, to include darkness, blizzards and even the occasional moose encounter. Nothing that a headlamp and warm layers can’t overcome! Visit MPHS Nordic website here.
Nordic athletes compete in both classic and skate disciplines. The CHSSL (Colorado High School Ski League) season this year consists of 5 weekend races in January and February, culminating in the State competition held February 22-23 in Leadville, CO. To qualify for state, racers must compete in at least 2 races of that particular discipline and place in the top 45% in at least one race.
Leading the team this year is new head coach, Mike Lohman, and assistant coach, Dave Cleveland. Both bring many years of coaching and Nordic racing experience to the team. In addition several other talented coaches are lending their time and expertise to include Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic director and CXC coach Bill Pierce, former MPHS head coach Travis Fuqua, and Winter Park Comp Center coach Jessica Jortberg.
Team members include:
Seniors: Raelee Granger (team captain), Darby Howard, Emily Jensen, Evan Olson, and Jeremy Peterson
Juniors: Elizabeth Barker, Eric Berry, Isaiah Callarman, Katelyn Cimino, Wil Cleveland, Lisa McClain, and Aaron Sanders (team captain)
Sophomores: Sebastian Brower, Aidan Carver, Emily DePlata, Avery Mutch, Selena Stoncius, Kimo Sullivan, and Vinny Troccoli
Freshman: Maggie Barker, Ethan Callarman, Guy Granger, Alex Holinka, Will Kuhns, Emily Lantermans, Maggie Pfeiffer, Jonathan Siefken, and Graydon Walker