Huskies boys skiing makes it back-to-back | VailDaily.com

Huskies boys skiing makes it back-to-back

ASPEN — Pick a cliche.

Never give up.

Keep fighting to the end.

It's not over until it's over.

This year's state ski meet in Aspen proved all of the above to be true. In a shocking turn of events, Battle Mountain boys skiing team surged from behind on Day 2 on Friday of the state meet to overtake host Aspen for the Huskies' second consecutive state title.

The gents overcame a 24.5-point deficit to Aspen after Thursday's giant slalom and Nordic classic with strong performances in Friday's slalom and skate races to win the crown, 592.5-578, over the host Skiers. Steamboat Springs was third (563) and Summit County fourth (558).

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With their successful title defense, the Huskies repeated as champs, the first Battle Mountain skiing team to repeat since 1992-1993.

"Honestly when our name was called, I had a lot of disbelief," Battle Mountain senior Quentin Cook said of Friday night's awards ceremony where the winners are announced. "I was in disbelief. I was extremely surprised. I'm beyond excited. It's so cool to win this thing back-to-back with awesome teammates and the help of coaches."

"It was everyone else's reaction," teammate Franklin Reilly said. "What was cool was the roar of the whole team winning."

On the girls' side, Aspen prevailed over Battle Mountain, 618-597, with Summit third (591) and the Vail Mountain School fourth (554).

And while the Huskies boys took home the big trophy, it's not the only major awards local racers earned on Friday. Cook won Friday's slalom, giving him a state sweep of alpine — he won giant slalom on Thursday.

And by the way, Cook is the Skimeister, as well, for the second straight year. That award is given to best all-around — i.e. alpine and Nordic — high school racer in the state. He has some company, too, as the Huskies' Haley Frischholz won the honor for the ladies.

And not to be left out, Vail Mountain School' Maddie Donnovan took home gold in the Nordic. That was part of a dominating performance by the Gore Rangers on the track. The Vail Mountain School ladies earned 344 of a possible 354 points during the meet, winning both classic and skate.

Take a hike

Battle Mountain had a team meeting, both the alpine and Nordic squads, after Thursday's races. Down 24.5 points, it didn't look good.

"We were definitely a little down," said Huskies alpine coach Simon Marsh, who picked up Coach of the Year on Friday. "We had a little pep talk and everyone seemed a little more motivated and wanted to get started."

And then the craziness of a state meet began.

Battle Mountain's Bryce Runckel had a great first run, and was 23rd, primed to make a charge in the second go-round. Runckel missed a gate, though.

That said, he hiked on the run, back to the gate he missed and finished. He was 42nd, and, doubtless disappointed with the result.

But the fact that he didn't give up, gave the extra effort and hiked correctly is the takeaway from the state meet.

Aspen had three — and only three — very capable alpine skiers. Kyle LeCoutre finished 14th, and Alex Illic finished 17th. The Skiers' third racer missed a gate, incorrectly hiked back and did not finish.

That turned a 24.5-point deficit into a 51.5-point lead for the Huskies boys, going into Friday afternoon's Nordic skate.

The Huskies not only had talent, but depth to overcome such a mishap. Cook won.

"This feels great, the conditions are great … you can't ask for much more," Cook said to the Aspen Times. "The first run, I had a little bobble. But that's ski racing, and it's all about two runs."

Luke Vickerman was fifth and David Stearns picked up Runckel by finishing 22nd.

Taking advantage

It's always difficult to know during a state meet where the competition stands. Cook obviously was at Friday's slalom — he won — but as an athlete competing in Nordic as well, he was busy changing equipment and racing to his second competition of the day. He didn't know that the door had opened.

"I was unaware about (Aspen) until the end of the Nordic race," Cook said. "When I heard that they had only two guys score, I was pretty excited."

"I heard about it," Reilly said. "But I was thinking about my own race. It was great to hear, but I didn't want it to change the way I raced."

Whatever may have happened during the boys' slalom, Battle Mountain had to stay close with a dominant Aspen Nordic team in Friday afternoon's freestyle race.

Aspen's Graham Houtsma just nipped Vail Mountain's Cameron Wolfe for the skate win, and the Skiers finished 1-3-4. But, whether the Huskies knew it or not at the time, they had a bit of a cushion.

Reilly took 12th, followed by Nick Apps (14th) and Cook (24th). Aspen ended up beating Battle Mountain, 175-138, in the freestyle, a 38-point margin, but the Huskies had a 51.5-point cushion.

And so the Huskies are back-to-back champions, earning the school's seventh boys' skiing title.

Huskies girls second

Battle Mountain's girls had a much better second day at state, but it wasn't enough to overtake Aspen.

Frischholz led the slalom after one run, but had to settle for a top-five finish. Abby Davidson finished her high school career in style with a top-10 result. Katherine Harnick was the Huskies' third scorer.

Turning to Nordic, the top 10 had a local flavor. In addition to Donovan's win, the Huskies Megan Rossman picked up bronze. Vail Mountain School's Blakslees were there as well — Annie was fourth and Emma seventh.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

More to come

Please check out Saturday’s paper for a listing of all the state-meet awards.