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CEC alpine individuals head to state

Esko senior Alex DeRocher, skiing here at Saturday's Centennial Invitational, placed fifth in Tuesday's Section 7 Alpine ski meet at Giants Ridge, earning him the right to advance to the state meet, along with teammates Sarah Severson and Paige Tranah. Photo contibuted by John Luomala

And then there were three.

Behind their whistling downhill performances at Tuesday's Section 7 Alpine ski meet at Giants Ridge, Esko's Alex DeRocher, Sarah Severson and Paige Tranah all qualified for next week's Minnesota state alpine competition on Feb. 15.

"You never know until the final results, but it was very exciting," said Cloquet-Esko-

Carlton Coach Ryan Zimny Tuesday night. "All three of those kids work hard."

Zimny said DeRocher, a sophomore, placed fifth overall with his conservative approach on a near-perfect day for downhill skiing. It will be DeRocher's second trip to state, and his first since his debut as an eighth-grader.

Speaking of debuts, both Severson, a freshman who finished 15th individually, and Tranah, a sophomore who placed 16th, punched their first-ever state tickets Tuesday. Zimny said both were the last two skiers to qualify, while Tranah advanced by only two-hundredths of a second.

"It went down to the wire," Zimny said. "They got the last two spots. That's always fun."

In postseason skiing, the top-two teams and top-10 individuals following qualify for state. Tuesday, Zimny said Mounds View and Hermantown-Proctor advanced for the girls, while Chisago Lakes and Duluth East will compete for the boys teams. The CEC girls placed sixth of the 18 teams competing. The boys were 14th.

DeRocher, Severson and Tranah, all competitive skiers who also train and compete with the Duluth Alpine Club, will return to the Biwabik-based course Feb. 15 for the state meet.

"All three definitely put in the time to get up to state," Zimny said. "Now, there's nowhere else to go. They can just let it rip."