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For Nordic ski teams, this week's snow came just in time

Hastings Nordic ski coach John Dewall was probably the happiest person in Hastings on Monday morning. Snow was falling. All of a sudden, it looked like winter in Minnesota, and Dewall was thrilled.

His team hadn't practiced on real snow since mid-November.

"This is the worst season in 30 years," Dewall said. "Coaches across the state are pretty much in the same situation. For most people, it's just been a real struggle. We stay in good shape, but it's hard to do any technique work. It's been a major challenge."

Hastings has just two weeks left in its season. The Suburban East Conference meet is planned for next week, and the following week is the section meet. Already, the location of the section meet has been moved because of the lack of snow at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. The meet will now be held at the Green Acres tubing park in Lake Elmo, which makes its own snow.

Dewall coaches the cross country running team in the fall, and at times this winter it has appeared as though that season never finished. He has many of the same athletes out this winter, and up until this week all they were doing, it seemed, was running.

"It has almost seemed like an extension of the cross country running season," he said.

When Hastings got on some artificial snow last week in Suburban East Conference race, Dewall liked what he saw from his youthful team.

"These young kids, it's fun to see them improve as the season goes on," he said. "Their learning curve is so dramatic. When they go race to race, you can definitely see the improvement.

Conference preview

Hastings raced at the conference preview race on Monday, Jan. 16, at Trollhaugen.

"It was actually good snow," Dewall said. "I thought the kids raced real well. They haven't had a lot of time on the snow to practice, but I thought they did real well."

For many of the skiers, it was their first time in a real race this year - with a 6K ski in the morning and a 6K ski in the afternoon.

"12K of skiing, that's pretty tough," Dewall said. "You're going six miles, and you're going up those hills at Trollhaugen. They did really well."

Roseville won the boys meet with 473 points. Forest Lake was second with 459 and Stillwater was third with 447. Hastings took seventh out of nine teams with 245 points.

Roseville is the state's No.1 ranked team. Stillwater and Forest Lake are also figuring in to the state rankings.

Joe Rabaey led Hastings with a 39th-place finish. He had a time of 19 minutes and 52.7 seconds in the classic leg and a time of 18:37.2 in the skate leg for a total time of 38:29.9.

James Harper took 48th with times of 24:17.3 in the classic and 19.52.6. in the skate for a total time of 44:09.9.

Also racing were: Jonah Schill, 54th, 46:12.9; Mike Perra, 59th, 54:29.3; Nick Johnson, 60th, 56:13.4.


Stillwater won the girls meet with 466 points. Roseville was second with 457 and Forest Lake was third with 442. Hastings took eighth out of nine teams with 213 points.

In the statewide girls rankings, Stillwater is No. 3 and Roseville is No. 4. Also getting votes is Forest Lake.

Rachel Peterson led the Raiders with a 29th-place finish. She had a time of 22:41.5 in the classic leg and a time of 19:07.4 in the skate leg for a total time of 41:48.9.

Sarah Peterson placed 43rd with a combined time of 46:07.9. She had a time of 23:46.9 in the classic and 22:20.9 in the skate.

Also racing were: Makaila England, 55th, 52:30.3; and Kailee Harrington, 64th, 60:45.9.