By Bruce Strand
Four Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman skiers will compete in the state meet because they made the commitment and paid the price, said their coach, Kirsten Anderson.
They are senior Joey Martin, who placed second at Section 4 on Thursday; senior Breck Hickman, who placed eighth; senior Brittney Dorn, who placed 10th; and junior Reece Hickman, who placed 13th. Dorn is a Rogers student and the others are Elk River students.
State competition will be held Thursday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
The state meet will cap a strong year by Martin in which he had a late start due to a stress fracture in his lower leg suffered during cross country.
“Joey missed two weeks, but he was able to put in those workouts during the season,” said Anderson. “He did not miss a beat. He has been very focused and got everything done he needed to.”
Anderson added that Martin is “such a fluid skier” in his strides, always “relaxed and ready to go.”
Martin was fifth at last year’s sectional and moved up to second this year.
Dorn took 22nd last year at both conference and section, and moved up to ninth in conference and 10th in section this year.
“Brittney put in a lot of summer training, and she switched from soccer to cross country this year to have more of a foundation for skiing,” said Anderson. “She was very focused, and decided this is what she wanted.”
Breck Hickman makes his second state trip and his sister Reece joins the delegation this year after missing by one spot last year.
“Breck and Reece have both worked very hard to reach the goals they set for themselves,” said Anderson. “Summer training, fall sports, hours on technique and still balancing school, summer jobs, college searches and everything else that comes up.”
Reece has been so focused for so long that her coach is relieved that the skier can “really enjoy the experience” now that the pressure is off.
Breck trained countless hours, both running and skiing, and it paid off, Anderson said.
“He has been such a great leader and a wonderful example for the younger boys of what you are able to accomplish with hard work and dedication.”
The coaches were hoping for five state qualifiers, feeling senior Mallory Adams also had a good chance, but two weeks of nagging illnesses slowed her down a bit. Adams placed 19th.
Last year, Martin placed 44th and Hickman 49th at state.
The sectional at Theodore Wirth Park was held in trying conditions for all skiers. It was minus two at noon when the girls skate race started the meet, and climbed no higher than three degrees.
“It was a long day and the kids did a great job,” said the coach. “And our parental support was amazing.”