I-L senior John Findlay moves through the course at the Sandwich Fairgrounds en route to a third-place finish on Jan. 9. The Lakers were the top team on the boys' side with 382 points. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2014SANDWICH – Thanks to four skiers in the top 10, the Inter-Lakes High School boys' nordic ski team kicked off its season in fine fashion at the Sandwich Fairgrounds on Jan. 9.
The Lakers captured first place in a six-school skate race with 382 points, ahead of second-place Hopkinton (375) and third-place Derryfield (368).
Ben Crosby and John Findlay were the top I-L skiers on the boys' side, as the duo crossed with identical times of 12 minutes, 18 seconds to take third place overall. Teammates Trevor Colby and Bob Euiler tied for seventh place (12:31) to put four Lakers in the top 10.
Cam Daly (13th, 13:00), Ryan Hambrook (23rd, 14:10), Ryan Welch (28th, 14:30), Sam Seeley (29th, 14:32), Hunter Johnson (31st, 14:53) and Finnian O'Connell (35th, 15:14) rounded out the top 10 finishers overall for I-L on the chilly afternoon.
On the girls' side, the Lakers put three skiers in the top five to take a second-place finish as a team with 371 points. Hopkinton captured the top spot with 376 points, while Moultonborough Academy was right behind in third with 370 points.
Emelia Pendergast opened up her season in strong fashion, as she captured third place with a time of 14:55. Teammates Kailee Bennett and Katie Gallagher tied for fifth position with identical times of 15:14. Bridie O'Connell was the fourth scorer for the Lakers, as she was 28th overall in 18:16.
Other high finishers for the squad included Kalee Tinker (34th, 19:12), Kate Hambrook (38th, 19:47), Nocera Range (39th, 20:19), Lucy Cunningham (41st, 20:22), Melissa Seeley (42nd, 20:33) and Julia Brown (43rd, 20:45).
The boys' team is looking to recapture the Division IV title this season from tradition power Hopkinton, which has held the crown for the past three years. Euiler, Findlay, Crosby and Colby will lead the Lakers this season.
"They're all closely grouped and consistent in either technique (skate or classic) with their skiing," said I-L head coach Steve Olafsen. "All four should be in the top levels of races this year with the hard work that's being put in."
Euiler (sixth, classic) and Findlay (seventh, skate) also qualified for the Meet of Champions last year thanks to top 10 finishes at the D-IV championship meet. Hambrook (classic) and Daly (skate) have also impressed during the early-going, while O'Connell, Johnson and Seeley could also break into the team's top six throughout the course of the season.
The boys' team is also looking to improve on its overall state ranking of 11th from last year, a product of the two combined New Hampshire Coaches Series races. The first of those two races (skate) will be held in Lebanon on Jan. 25 while the classic race is slated for White Mountains Regional High School on Feb. 8. These races will once again determine the qualifiers for the elite J2 (14-15 year olds) and Eastern High School Championship teams.
The girls' team will be paced by Pendergast, who led the way in the first race as expected. The junior will hope to aid the Lakers to a better showing than their fourth place finish at last year's state meet, where Profile claimed the state title. Pendergast was seventh in both the skate and classic races last year as a sophomore at states, and she qualified to compete on the J2 team as well.
Bennett and Gallagher are both new to the varsity as freshmen this winter but the duo performed well as middle tier skiers last year. Hambrook, Brown, Tinker and O'Connell are others striving for top six slots, while Cunningham, Range, Natalie Duffield and Seeley round out the girls' roster.