Mack FitzPatrick was one of several alumni who participated at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships on Jan. 2 and 3 in Houghton, Mich. FitzPatrick competed for Harvard University. Contributed photograph.
Mack FitzPatrick was one of several alumni who participated at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships on Jan. 2 and 3 in Houghton, Mich. FitzPatrick competed for Harvard University. Contributed photograph.
The Lakeland Nordic ski team had its first meet of the new year when they traveled to Wausau for the Snekkevik Ski Races on Saturday, Jan. 11. The boys finished third with 33 points and the girls finished first with 12 points.

The week before, a couple of Thunderbirds and Thunderbird alumni participated in the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships in Houghton, Mich., on Jan. 2-3.



Snekkevik Ski Races

“(It was our first meet) as a full team since our home race,” coach Erich Kern said. “Good conditions and we had a fun day.”

The Lakeland girls placed four in the top 10.

Mia Case took first place yet again with a time of 24:45.7. 

“Mia demonstrated how good she’s skiing and her ability,” coach Kern said. “She pretty much walked away with the win today.”

Coming in third place, Grace Kern skied a time of 25:43.2. 

Kiera Rotar finished in sixth place with a time of 25:52.0.

Rounding out the top ten, Sylvia Meza finished ninth with a time of 26:29.5.

“Grace Kern skied really well for us as well as Kiera Rotar and Sylvia,” coach Kern said. “We had four girls in the top 10.”

The top finisher for the boys was Forrest Dorsey with a time of 21:25.3. He finished in seventh place.

“(It was) a good example of how strong the field in the boys is,” coach Kern said.  

Casey Van Hefty finished ninth with a time of 21:26.9. 

Coming in 14th place, Jake Van Hefty finished with a time of 22:13.9. 

“Forrest had a good race, Casey had a good race,” coach Kern said. “Still room for improvement, a good eye opener for the boys to see some of the strong teams and keep working hard.”

U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships

A few current Thunderbirds participated in the meet. Mia Case finished with a time of 4:19.68 in the freestyle sprint on Jan. 2 in her race in the U18. In the women’s 10K freestyle race, she finished with a time of 34:00.0. Case also participated in the 7.5K classic and finished with a time of 28.11.

Johanna and Jakob Craig both competed on Jan. 3. Johanna Craig finished with a time of 32:23.9 in the women’s 10K freestyle race in the U20. In addition to that, she also did 7.5K classic and took 41st in 27.07. 

Jakob Craig finished with a time of 45:07.7 men’s 15K freestyle race in the U18. He also did 10K classic and took 69th in 33.58.

“They all had really good races against the toughest competition in the nation,” coach Kern said. “They finished where they should compared to those athletes.”

Casey Van Hefty finished with a time of 35:05.8 in the boys’ 10km classic in the U16 on Jan. 5. 

“I’m really proud of them,” coach Kern said. 

There were also a couple of alumni were participated in the freestyle sprints on Jan. 2. One of those alumni was Mack FitzPatrick. 

“It’s always a blast to get to compete in large races like Senior Nationals, and it is not every day that you get to race against so many great athletes from all over the country and world,” FitzPatrick said.

FitzPatrick competed for Harvard University in the U23. He finished with a time of 3:36.21 in the sprint. In the men’s 15K, he finished with a time of 42:29.9.

“I was not so much focused on my performance during this meet as getting into the right mindset for the season and practicing getting into race mode,” he said. “I think, if anything, these races helped me realize what things I need to work on before the season fully begins, and they were a good way to brush off the cobwebs.”

This race also gives FitzPatrick a chance to represent his home state and area.

“I take a lot of pride representing the Lakeland area, especially when I race in the Midwest,” he said. “It’s always so great to come back to the Midwest and connect with teammates past and present and cheer on fellow ski birds.” 

FitzPatrick also uses the race as a way to prepare for the next step of his season.

“Moving forward with the rest of my season, our collegiate season kicks off with the ‘Harvard Carnival,’ which will be Jan. 17 and 18,” he said. “From there, we’ll have races every weekend until March. The Harvard team is looking especially strong this year, and we are hoping to make a big impact on the Eastern collegiate circuit. As one of the captains of the team, I will do my best to motivate my team as we try to qualify as many people as we can for NCAAs.” 

Also competing was Cody Schneider, a student at the College of St. Scholastica. He competed just one year ago at Lakeland and was one of their top skiers. He finished the race with a time of 3:41.51.

“He was a really nice skier for us the last couple of years and decided to ski in college,” coach Kern said.

And for the girls, Nicole Gilman of St. Scholastic finished with a time of 4:09.73 in the U23 in the freestyle sprints.

Lakeland’s next race comes this weekend at the Hodag Challenge in Rhinelander on Saturday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 19.

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.