Three makes a team for Saints
EDWARDS – The New York Mets, the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Oakland Seals.The Mets went 40-120 in their first season in 1962. Tampa lost its first 26 games in the NFL, and the Seals just flopped completely in the NHL.Being on a new team is generally not a fun experience for those involved.But then there’s Vail Christian Nordic. The Saints are in all of their second season and the girls are a regular in the top three in state-wide races.”I wouldn’t say surprised, but I’m definitely impressed,” said Jay Henry, the Saints’ assistant coach who serves under Anna Jeronimus. “I think there’s been a vast improvement. That’s exciting to see.”
“It’s just exciting,” senior Molly McGee said. “We never expected to do as well as we are doing this year. I think we’ve always had the effort. I think we’re finally getting the technique down. That’s just made a huge difference.”The Saints girls’ Nordic team – the school doesn’t have a boys’ team yet – enters today’s state meet with all of three girls – McGee, Jessica Linder and Lettie Fickling. Yet with apologies to Dick Van Patten, three is enough.”All three of them are tough. Because the high school system takes the top-three finishers to rank them as a team, every girl has to finish and finish as high as possible,” Henry said. “They’ve done that really well, beating teams that have 10, 12 or 15 girls. They’ve been super consistent.”New opportunities
McGee spent her first two winters in high school competing for Battle Mountain before the Saints formed a team.”It’s really been an opportunity for me,” McGee said. “I came from a team where I was not the fastest. And suddenly, I was expected to lead.”Vail Christian couldn’t have asked for a better role model. McGee was part of Battle Mountain’s 2005 girls’ state championship cross country team – Vail Christian does not offer the sport. McGee’s been to the state track meet three times.Her young face belies the fact that she’s a veteran of all forms of competition.”You can tell that she’s not afraid to suffer a bit,” Henry said. “She knows what is required. Track and cross country are equally as hard. You can tell she is equipped to handle the stress and demands of competition.”
Linder started running last winter as practice for track. Her times last spring made Vail Christian track coach Bob Isbell smile. Now a sophomore, Linder competed with the best at the state cross country meet with McGee, and is proving equally adept on skis.”To see a sophomore improve that much, it pretty much makes a coach happy,” Henry said. “A couple more years left, and obviously, she’ll get stronger. Technque-wise, she’s improved a bunch. A few more years, it’s definitely a dream to have a strong sophomore like Jessica.”Fickling has proved the most pleasant surprise. She’s come into her own as a Nordic competitor this winter.”The difference between this year and last year is probably the biggest of all three girls,” Henry said. “I think this year she realized that she’s a good skier. She’s a lot more confident. Of all the kids, we’ve skied with, I think Lettie’s improved the most.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.