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Mesabi East Invite Preview

January 3, 2012


Mesabi East Invite, January 5, 2008 (Photo: Kyle Thomas)
With the start of every January comes the highly anticipated Mesabi East Invite at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minnesota.  For the Minnesota high school racing scene, the event is mid-terms.   Nearly all of the top ranked skiers and teams will be competing, along with some of the best from Wisconsin and even Michigan.  Typically over 1,000 skiers will race, making it the largest high school race in the nation.

One of the big attractions of the Mesabi East Invite is the opportunity for skiers to race the State Meet courses.  However, due to the poor snow season, Giants Ridge has had their work cutout developing a new man-made snow loop to provide an alternate course.   As it currently stands, the loop will run along the base of the downhill areas, using some climbs, and eventually end up on the Gold course -- where it parallels the golf fairways -- and finally will run back into the stadium, for a 2.7K loop.  It's difficult to tell how much role the new course, along with lap traffic and man-made snow, will play a role in the outcomes.  But you can be sure Giants Ridge will put forward the best course possible.

Names and Numbers

For the parents and friends of skiers, tracking your favorite athlete should be relatively easy given the double interval starts and posted start list. But if you're there to watch the spectacul, it can be overwhelming with over 1,000 skiers and a two-loop course.   So we've compiled a little "guide book" to helping you tracking the top racers.

Before we dive into the favorites, it's important to mention who is not competing.  Top ranked Ben Saxton, second ranked Eric Slater and Sarah Benton, are competing at the US Cross-Country Championships this week in Rumford, Maine.  In addition, some of the very best Wisconsin skiers, including Nichole Bathe, the Amber sisters (Nicolette and Olivia), and Adam Martin, are also competing at US Nationals.  Outside of those key individuals, nearly every top skier and team will be competing!

Boys Classic


Forest Lake's Joe Jackson, Section 4, February 10, 2011
Three top top ranked boys, the winner will most likely be decided between Sam Elfstrom, Lewis Kunik, Matt Berntson and Jake Richards. 
Ones to watch...
#16 Sam Elfstrom, Roseville
#23 Jake Richards, Detroit Lakes
#54 Geoff Ash, Duluth East
#61 Matthew Berntson, Edina
#60 Anders Evenson, Osseo
#63 Alex Kelly, Forest Lake
#92 Aaron Ostrander, Hayward (WI)
#86 Nate Hanson, Stillwater
#91 Jonah Gilbert, Irondale

Girls Classic

A deep field, with a number of top 20 girls competing.  The leading favorites would be Ellen Wiitala, Vivian Hett, Amy Bianco, Viren Solvieg, Delaney Fitzpatrick and Nora Gilbertson.
Ones to watch...
#297 Ellen Wiitala, Marquette (MI)
#303 Vivian Hett, Burnsville
#304 Cassie Pratt, Stillwater
#320 Amy Bianco, Ely
#334 Chelsey Youngberg, Duluth East
#343 Delaney Fitzpatrick, Lakeland (WI)
#352 Amy Ferguson, Lakeville North
#355 Nicole Schneider, Wayzata
#356 Emma Barnes, Iola-Scandinavia (WI)
#376 Nora Gilbertson, Stillwater
#379 Lily Kraft, Iola-Scandinavia (WI)
#380 Sophie Schuder, Duluth East
#428 Viren Solvieg, Grand Rapids

Boys Freestyle

Another really deep field, with five top ten ranked skiers and a number ready to unseat them.  Kyle Marshall, Jan Ketterson, Calvin Mehrhoff, Joe Jackson, Zach Goldberg and Ryan Davis could be separated by just seconds for the title.
Ones to watch...
#585 Calvin Mehrhoff, Coon Rapids
#591 Eric Wagner, Marquette
#605 Chris Hecker, Anoka
#617 Kyle Marshall, Roseville
#618 Zach Goldberg, Minnetonka
#622 Harris Dirnberger, Hopkins
#623 Michael Cork, St. Louis Park
#627 Lucas Mason, Roseville
#671 Jan Ketterson, Bloomington
#723 Sean Bjork, Stillwater
#747 Ryan Davis, Duluth East

Girls Freestyle


Wayzata's Alayna Sonnesyn, Holiday Relays, December 17, 2011
The race of the day.  Seven of the top ten ranked girls will compete, including 5 of the top 6!  Alayna Sonnesyn will have the target on her back with Annie Harvieux, Mattie Watts, Rocci Wohlk, Sonja Hedblom, Claire Galvin and Nikki Reker all planning to unseat her and take home the title.  And there is a big line-up waiting to make a statement.
Ones to watch...
#900 Claire Galvin, Minneapolis Southwest
#901 Alayna Sonneson, Wayzata
#925 Toni St. Martin, Mahtomedi
#929 Annie Harvieux, Duluth East
#941 Cassie Thobe, Forest Lake
#946 Julia Lavanger, Hopkins
#949 Sonja Hedblom, Eagan
#953 Chelsey Tremblay, Hayward (WI)
#958 Nicholette Reker, Roseville
#968 Mattie Watts, Irondale
#979 Marit Sonnesyn, Wayzata
#995 Kaley Shagen, Osseo
#1034 Rocci Wohlk, Forest Lake
#1038 Jessie Kay, Wayzata

Teams

All of the top five ranked teams, boys and girls, will be competing.  Roseville girls won Mesabi last year and Duluth East is number one ranked.  However, Wayzata has all their key players and would like to show their ranking needs an upgrade. Traditional powerhouses Forest Lake, and Stillwater will be gunning as well.

Hopkins boys won last year, but will be hard pressed to repeat with the likes of top ranked Duluth East, Eden Prairie, Irondale, and Roseville.


Note: There still could be some last minute changes to the rosters, especially some switching between events and teammates.

Of course, you can bet the house there will be some surprises in the mix with skiers making their name known by Saturday night.  So enjoy the racing and cheer them all on!


Related:
Mesabi East Invite updates including start lists
Mesabi East Invite Meet Information


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