The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys Nordic ski team took advantage of fast conditions to grab their first win in nearly a year at the CEC Invitational on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the Pine Valley Park in Cloquet.

Aidan Ripp took first place overall with a blazing-fast time of 13 minutes, 22.6 seconds, and for a few minutes, there were whispers of a new course record for the Lumberjack senior.

Coach Arne Maijala was unable to confirm if the time was a record at Pine Valley, but he said it was an impressive time, nonetheless.

"It's a very fast time for that course," Maijala said.

Last year's meet at Pine Valley was canceled because of bad weather conditions.

Ripp said he may have started too fast because he was so happy to be racing again on his home course.

"I think that I had a little bit of excitement to race at Pine Valley again because I haven't raced here in two years," Ripp said. "I was really excited, so I think I went out a little to hard in the beginning and then settled down and had more of a normal race for me."

Ripp was one of three CEC skiers to finish in the top five and all four scorers for the Lumberjacks finished in the top 10. Benjamin Bauer finished third, Josh Sanders was fifth and Blaine Bong was ninth.

Maijala said the snow early morning Monday, Jan. 7, combined with much cooler temperatures the following day, made for fast, slightly icy conditions on the course.

The CEC girls finished fourth with Brita Mowers leading the Lumberjacks in 17th place with a time of 19:04.4. Charlotte Ripp, Andrea Hille and Elsa Mowers finished 19th, 20th and 21st, respectively.

The team next turns its attention to the Lake Superior Conference meet Jan. 25 at Snowflake Nordic Ski Center in Duluth.

Maijala said CEC is transitioning from its early-season focus on conditioning to "fine tuning" their technique and preparing for the two stage pursuit races required at the conference meet, as well as the Section 7A meet Feb. 7 at Giants Ridge.