Cooper skiers ready for some races

The snow fell in December, giving the Cooper boys and girls Nordic ski teams something to work and train with.

Now all the Hawks need is a true measuring stick.

As is normally the case with the high school Nordic ski season, competitive meets don’t start coming in bunches until the month of January. Now that Cooper the calendar has obliged, Cooper head coach John Utter is anxious to see what is there.

“We think we have some kids that are pretty good, but we haven’t had a lot of exposure yet,” said Utter. “We’ve only had three meets so far, and that makes it tough to really judge where we are at.”

What Cooper does know is that they should plan on making an itinerary for a trip to Biwabik next month.

Senior Ellie Evans has already qualified for two state Nordic ski meets, and Utter is confident a third trip is in the making.

“She tells herself she is not in as good of shape as she’d like to be yet, but there is plenty of time,” said Utter. “She’ll be strong in the end, and I really think she’ll get back up there one more time.”

Evans leads what could be a solid girls team. Senior Natalie Kessler has looked strong so far, Utter said, and junior Anna Meyer and eighth-grader Dottie Anderson round out a top-four that could contend for a top-half finish in the team’s section race Feb. 5 at Baker Park Reserve.

Four skiers will count in that race, while five will be needed to score well when the team heads to its conference meet Jan. 25.

The search for a solid No. 5 is ongoing for the girls team.

“I’ve got three girls that are all going for that spot,” Utter said. “I’m hoping between one of those three they’ll have a good race when we have our conference meet.”

The Cooper boys don’t appear to be as deep. Utter said junior Eddie Dols and senior Dane Johnson have separated themselves from a pack of six or seven skiers currently vying for a varsity spot.

As mentioned, much more will be determined when the races really pick up. The team raced Jan. 8, and then had another meet scheduled for Jan. 16.

In all, 50 students came out for the sport this year, and they are all searching for some competition.

“We just need to get the kids out there skiing competitively a little more,” Utter said. “We’ll know a lot more then.”

Contact Nick Clark at nick.clark@ecm-inc.com

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