O’Connor qualifies for state Alpine meet
Hastings sophomore Stephen O’Connor was the lone local qualifier for the state Alpine ski meet this year.
O’Connor led a very strong Hastings team performance at the Section 4 championships last week at Wild Mountain. He placed 16th overall, securing the final qualifying spot for the state meet. As a team, Hastings placed third.
Blake won the meet with 481 points and East Ridge was second with 425.5. Hastings had 396.5 points. The team performance was a pleasant surprise for coach Jim Peine.
“All the boys really came through,” he said. “I knew we had the talent this year. We just never had all the kids put a race together on the same day. It happened at sections.
“We couldn’t put it all together in our conference races, or even the invitationals we went to. We did it at sections, and that’s the good news. They know they can do it. We’re really looking forward to next year.”
All of the skiers who scored for Hastings at the section meet are underclassmen. Hastings had two eighth-graders and four sophomores in the lineup.
Among the sophomores, of course, was O’Connor.
He was 20th after his first run with a time of 30.52.
His time of 31.98 on his second run, though, was the 12th fastest and moved him all the way up to 16th overall.
“He just had a lot cleaner run,” Peine said. “His first run, he had a couple bobbles. He did really well in that second run. He knew what he had to do and he was able to do it.”
O’Connor qualified for the state meet last year, too.
This year’s meet was held Wednesday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Results were not available at press time.
The Hastings girls had high hopes going into the section meet, but some trouble up and down the lineup moved Hastings down in the standings.
Hastings finished with 303.5 points to place eighth.
“I thought we had a pretty good shot (to qualify as a team),” Peine said. “I think we would have, if we had more clean runs.”
Minneapolis Southwest won the girls meet with 420 points. Blake was second with 411 and East Ridge was third with 363.5.
Ellie Peine led the Raiders with a 21st place finish. She had a time of 34.54 on one run and 34.60 on the other for a combined time of 1:09.14.
“She had two good runs,” Peine said. “All the other girls just stepped it up a little more than she did. It just wasn’t enough to get her up there (to the state meet).”
Seventeen girls were taken to the state meet this year.
Sara Juelfs placed 30th overall with a combined time of 1:12.66.
Gabriella Sorg had one rough run and one great run. She missed a gate and had to hike back to it, finishing in 44.79 seconds. On her other run, she had a time of 33.06, which was the sixth-fastest time on the course. She ended placing 46th overall with a combined time of 1:17.85.
“It was just an unfortunate thing,” Peine said.
Sorg has raced at the state meet in previous years and was hoping to earn a return trip this year.
Rosie Pechous had a bumpy first run before rebounding with a time of 35.15 on her second run.
Josie Pechous and Sarah Kieffer also raced for Hastings.
Sorg and Kieffer will graduate, but everyone else is expected to return.