A group of about 20 members of the Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) made a post-storm trek to Spokane last weekend to compete in the PNSA Junior Qualifier
“Saturday [Jan. 13] was a mass start classic race for all the groups,” team director Leslie Hall reported. “A bit of new snow along with warm temperatures and a new grooming crew made for challenging conditions for the waxers and the athletes.”
The first group out was the U16 boys 5-kilometer race. MVNT dominated the field, taking the top four spots with Walker Hall 1st, followed by Travis Grialou in 2nd and Ian Delong in 3rd. Bodhi Kuzyk placed 4th.
The U16 girls were up next, with Eva Weymuller having a strong race to finish 4th, followed by Keeley Brooks in 6th place and Lena Nelson in 9th place.
Team members Ella Kuzyk and Novie McCabe opted to skip the Spokane weekend to recover from their strenuous week at U.S. Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, but Gretta Scholz needed to attend in order to qualify for Junior Nationals, Hall reported.
“In the 10K Gretta struggled with slow skis but managed to finish 4th in the U18/20 group of ladies (3rd in U18),” Hall said.
“Eli Nielsen joined us after his biathlon success (see related story, page B1) and struggled with tiredness, ending up 6th among the U18/20 boys,” Hall added.
MVNT’s younger skiers raced on a 3K course, with seven U14 girls competing. MVNT again took the top 4 spots: Jori Grialou led the way in 1st, followed by Dashe McCabe in 2nd, Lilia Kuzyk in 3rd, Mahali Kuzyk 4th, Mariah Lucy in 6th, Stella Scholz in 8th and Wyatt Albright in 9th.
In the U12 girls 3K, Leki Albright finished 2nd and Marit Nelson 3rd, and in the U12 boys Emmet Bondi placed 3rd.
Hall said trail conditions were good for Sunday’s (Jan. 14) skate racing. Races were staged in the same order as Saturday, so the U16 boys were first on course for their 5K.
“The boys didn’t quite manage a sweep again with a skier from Bend Endurance Academy sneaking into 3rd place, just one second ahead of Ian Delong, but Walker Hall and Travis Grialou went 1-2 and Ian Delong and Bodhi Kuzyk placed 4th and 5th,” Leslie Hall reported. “This sets them all up well for Junior National Qualification which will be complete in February.”
The U16 girls’ field was tough for Sunday’s event. Keeley Brooks finished 8th, Eva Weymuller 10th and Lena Nelson 11th for the day.
Eli Nielsen skied through sore shins ending up in 10th place in the U18/20 men.
“Gretta Scholz had a better day in spite of her fatigue and ended up 4th in the U18/20 10K race again but happier with the overall feeling,” Hall reported “Our U14 girls again dominated the field in their 3K but with some shuffling around.” Lilia Kuzyk won the race, followed by Jori Grialou in 2nd and Mahali Kuzyk in 3rd. Dashe McCabe placed 4th, Stella Scholz 7th, Mariah Lucy 8th and Wyatt Albright 9th. Amelia Bondi joined the group after a Saturday gymnastics meet to finish 12th.
In the U12 3K, Leki Albright skied smoothly and quickly to take 1st place, with Marit Nelson 4th. Emmet Bondi finished 2nd in his U12 class.
The team is home next weekend (with Novie McCabe leaving for Nordic racing in Scandinavia and Eli Nielsen heading to central Europe for biathlon competition), and the following weekend (Jan. 26 – 27) is scheduled to be the Soldier Hollow Super Junior Qualifier in Utah (site of the 2018 Junior Nationals).