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Lakeland Nordic ski shines over two days

January 24, 2020 by Brett LaBore

The Lakeland Nordic ski teams took in the 2020 Ascension Hodag Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. 

The girls won the meet with 15 team points.

The boys took third with 28 team points.


“With the girls missing Mia (Case, because of sickness), it shows how strong our girls team is,” coach Erich Kern said. “We’re the strongest girls team in the state right now.”

On Saturday, Johanna Craig won the 5K skate, just finishing under 19 minutes with a time of 18:55.

Grace Kern took eighth in the 5K skate with a time of 20:52.9.

Just missing the top 10, Kiera Rotar finished 11th with a time of 21:09.5.

Sylvia Meza finished 19th with a time of 22:21.8, the fourth highest finish for the Thunderbirds.

Then on Sunday, the girls participated in the 5K classic.

Craig finished second in the classic with a time of 19:13.5. She finished five seconds behind Alice House from Blackhawk Nordic Ski Team.

Meza came back for a top 10 finish in the classic. She finished sixth with a time of 20:59.7. 

“With the fresh snow on Saturday it favors certain skiers and hurts certain skiers,” coach Kern said. “It’s hard to ski in that some skiers did better on Sunday than Saturday so she came back in her classic race, skied really strong.” 

Rotar finished eighth with a time of 21:18.

“She was really consistent,” coach Kern said. 

Grace Kern finished 16th with a time of 21:54.3.

“Grace was the opposite,” coach Kern said. “Grace finished and struggled a little on the classic.”

The pursuit race is a combined time of the skate and classic races. The team scores were based on pursuit results.

With both times combined, Craig won the pursuit with a time of 38.08.5, less than a second ahead of House’s 38:09.2.

“It’s great. She deserves it,” coach Kern said. “She’s been skiing really well and working really hard. It shows with her results.”

Rotar came in eighth for the pursuit with a time of 42:27.5.

Rounding out the top 10 for the pursuit, Grace Kern had the third highest finish for the Thunderbirds, finishing 10th with a time of 42:47.2.

Meza finished in 12th with a time of 43:21.5. 

All in all, the Thunderbirds had four skiers in the top 12 to help them secure the victory. 

“A good showing from all those girls,” coach Kern said. “(Grace, Kiera, Sylvia) practice a lot together and they usually finish mixed depending on the day but all around nice showing from them.”


“As a group they’re skiing well,” coach Kern said. “Again just like last week it shows how competitive it is out there.”

On Saturday, Jakob Craig had the highest finish for the Thunderbirds in the 5K Skate. He finished ninth with a time of 17:53.3.

Right behind him, Jake Van Hefty finished 10th with a time of 17:58.8.

“Jake was really consistent this weekend,” coach Kern said. “He’s right where he should be and I think he could ski a little bit quicker.”

Coming in 12th, Forrest Dorsey finished with a time of 18:07.8. 

Brock Metzger finished 58th with a time of 21:52.4.

Then on Sunday, the boys participated in the 5K classic.

Jakob Craig had a top five finish in the classic. He finished fifth with a time of 16:52.3.

“It’s great. He works really hard, he puts it all out there every race and he’s showing that with his results,” coach Kern said. 

Dorsey came in ninth in the classic. He finished with a time of 17:30.1.

Jake Van Hefty rounded out the top 10 with a time of 17:31.6.

Coming in with a time of 19:56.5, Metzger finished 45th in the classic.

With both times combined, Jakob Craig finished in sixth with a time of 34:45.6.

“He’s a strong skier, excited to see how he does the rest of the year,” coach Kern said. “He’s one of our top boys.”

Jake Van Hefty finished ninth with a time of 35:30.4.

Dorsey just missed the top ten. He came in 13th with a time of 35:37.9.

Metzger finished in 49th with a time of 41:48.9.

“As a group they’re racing really well, missing Casey (Van Hefty), who’s sick,” coach Kern said. “They’re right where they should be. With a little more work and couple better results they’ll be right up there first or second at the state meet.”

Up next, the Thunderbirds split up into two teams over the weekend. Half of the team will go to the Badger State Games in Wausau on Saturday, Jan. 25.

The other half will go back to the Junior National Qualifier in Cable on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 26. 

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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