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CEC skis into postseason form

Members of the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls Nordic ski team gather following their Lake Superior Conference championship team victory Saturday afternoon at Pincushion Trail in Grand Marais, Minn. The Lumberjacks defended their LSC title from last year, finishing with the top-three individual pursuit skiers. CEC will next be at the Section 7 Nordic ski meet today, Thursday, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn. Contributed Photo

Standing atop Giants Ridge Tuesday afternoon, Alex DeRocher had a mild headache, but skied to a seventh-place overall finish at Tuesday's Section 7 Alpine ski meet in Biwabik, Minn., qualifying for his third career state meet.

"I felt a little weak, but I just knew I had to put two good runs together," said DeRocher, who finished with a combined ski time of 1 minute, 16.46 seconds to advance state competition next Wednesday afternoon, again at Giants Ridge. "I just didn't want to crash."

DeRocher crashed on his second run at State as a sophomore last year. He also qualified for State as an eighth-grader.

"Even on an off-day, Alex skis well; he's fully committed to the sport," said Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Coach Ryan Zimny. "If you don't feel well, you suck it up and go. And Alex did that today."

Esko sophomore teammate Sarah Severson also clinched a state meet berth by placing seventh overall at 1:28.78. Skiing safer according to Zimny, Severson advanced to State for the second time, going last year as a freshman as well.

Lumberjack teammates Paige Tranah was one place - and one-tenth of a second - away from State, while Carly Boder was several spots short of qualifying, according to Zimny. The CEC girls team placed fourth and the boys 11th out of 18 total teams at the Section 7 meet.

Severson, meanwhile, remains positive entering next week.

"Last year at sections I was 14th, so my goal this year was to be in the top-10 and I did that," Severson said. "I know I've improved since last season, so I hope that State will be the same."

"Sarah skied safely," Zimny added. "Sections can be real nerve-racking, but now at State, there's really nothing at all to lose."

The CEC Nordic girls ski team defended its Lake Superior Conference championship Saturday at Pincushion Trail in Grand Marais, finishing 1-2-3.

"In the years I've been doing this, results have been scattered, but we were pretty dominant," said CEC Coach Les Martin. "A lot of the girls have done a lot of work to get to this point. They've come a long way this season. We won pretty well up there."

Carlton eighth-grader Erika Fox won the total pursuit in 43 minutes, 15 seconds, followed by Cloquet eighth-grader Anja Maijala in second and Esko senior Molly Meysembourg in third. Kaylee Parks finished fifth and Sylvie Deters placed eighth.

"It showed how much power we have," said Meysembourg, set for Thursday's Section 7 meet to be held at Giants Ridge as this issue of the Pine Journal hits the streets.

Carlton's Duncan Fox led the boys in eighth place Saturday, while Josh Carlson took 10th in a day that was all about the girls.

"We have some young skiers, but we've done pretty well," said Erika Fox. "Giving out the awards, we heard them call us - it was surprising. You can't expect that stuff, so we were all really happy."