With five first-time qualifiers, the Brainerd Warriors’ objective in Wednesday’s state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik was to experience the most significant event of the Minnesota State High School League season.
Ashley Fitterer was Brainerd’s top finisher in 52nd place, followed by her sister, Payge, in 65th, Emily Aga in 68th, Grace McGuire, a Pequot Lakes eighth-grader, 76th and Hannah Moen 82nd.
All five will return to the team next year since the group includes a junior, two sophomores and two eighth-graders. Another member of the Warriors is Pequot Lakes freshman Alex Stone, a top skier all season for Brainerd who fell during a Section 5A meet run and didn’t advance to state.
“We have everyone back next year,” Warriors coach Jim Ruttger said in a Brainerd Dispatch story, “and they’re already talking about it. They’re hungry to get there as a team next year.
“These girls worked really hard all season. It was just fun to have them there today and experience a state meet for the first time because it is a different event. Potentially, kids we saw compete today are in the pipeline for the U.S. ski team. To be able to see that level of competition, and aspire to that, was a great opportunity for them.”
McGuire, an eighth-grader, skied a 42.94 on her first run and 1:03.74 on her second.
“Grace had a real solid first run,” Ruttger said. “She skied the head wall a little tentative and maybe could have gotten a little more out of that. The second course we thought was a little more technically challenging. Different segments of the course you had to ski the transitions well. Grace got mixed up in a flush, had to stop and hike. You’re not going to place whenever you have to stop and go back up a hill.”
Girls team scores: 1-Minnetonka 161, 2-Blake 151, 3-Southwest Minneapolis 136, 4-Mankato West 124, 5-Mahtomedi 115, 6-Lakeville 113, 7-Orono 103, 8-Mounds View 94
Individual champion: Megan Greiner (Minnetonka) 1:18.28
Brainerd results: 52-Ashley Fitterer 1:32.43, 65-Payge Fitterer 1:37.13, 68-Emily Aga 1:40.50, 76-Grace McGuire 1:46.68, 82-Hannah Moen 2:07.88.