Two CEC skiers finish in top 5 at sections, head to state
Anja Maijala wasn’t sure if her time at last Thursday’s Section 7 Nordic ski meet was a personal best, but the Cloquet sophomore said some of her best in-race motivation comes when thinking about her coach, Glen Sorenson.
Sorenson hopes to watch Maijala and Carlton sophomore Erika Fox today, Thursday, Feb. 12, during the state Nordic meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, as the two teenagers took second and fourth last week while their Cloquet-Esko-Carlton coach continued to battle back from prostate cancer surgery.
Sorenson, 62, said Wednesday morning over the phone that he planned to ride up to the Iron Range with Maijala and Fox’s fathers, to watch the girls race for the first time since his surgery Jan. 12.
“I am going to try and make it,” said Sorenson, who spent another eight hours with doctors at the Mayo Clinic Wednesday in Rochester. “I wanted to go to sections, but it was physically impossible. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t walk.”
Yet, that never-quit attitude and constant perseverance from Sorenson has carried over to the Lumberjacks skiers. While a change in coaching could have diffused that effect, that hasn’t been the case, with assistant Ben Croft and volunteer Brent Smith stepping right in and guiding a tireless team during a poor-weathered season.
In fact, according Croft, the program has over 50 skiers, all of whom keep Sorenson in their thoughts.
At their invitational in January, the team painted “Ski4Glen” on their faces. A couple days later, Croft explained that after not eating for seven days, Sorenson had an orange popsicle. His skiers did the same at practice and sent the photo to Sorenson.
“The kids really have taken the initiative,” Croft said.
Maijala claimed a small lead on Mesabi East girls champion Anna Johnson during an uphill climb, but couldn’t hang on down the hill of the 10.5-kilometer freestyle and classic pursuit race, finishing in 34 minutes, 16 seconds — about 25 seconds back. Fox timed 35:07, as the two now make their second state trip together
The girls finished fifth as a team, while the boys were sixth of the competing squads, led by Parker Sinkkonen at 33:18.4.
Speaking of results, at the end of the section award ceremony last week, Sorenson, Croft and Smith were named section coach, assistant coach and volunteer of the year — fitting for a trio always in contact via phone and email.
But not today, as Sorenson said he expects to be on site.
“The messages, the photos, the support has been huge,” said an upbeat Sorenson, who has visited the team just twice, but is getting better. “I want to see them. It’s my last chance.”
“Glen has been through a tough time,” said Maijala. “If he could make it, that would for sure make my day.”
“We don’t go a day without thinking of him,” Fox said.