Ski Tigers finish first at frigid state meet

HOUGHTON – With temperatures hovering around zero and wind chills as low as minus-30, the Copper Country Ski Tigers Nordic ski team braved the elements to compete against several other teams from Michigan at the state championship meet at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center.

The races started out on Friday morning with the 5-kilometer classic race. Mitchell DeLong won the race in 17 minutes, followed closely by Keefer Edwards from Traverse City Central and teammate David Jaszczak. Isaac Stone (sixth) and Ben Wood (10th) also finished in the top 10 for the Ski Tigers.

Defending champion Sarah Goble (Lake Michigan Ski Team) continued her reign with a winning time of 19:40. Ski Tigers senior Sarah Lyle wasn’t far behind with a time of 20:06, with Annabel Needham rounding out the top 10 for the Ski Tigers. With only four skiers, the Ski Tigers girls managed an impressive tie for first place with Traverse City after the classic race.

The skiers returned to the trails Friday afternoon to compete in the skate race for the distance champion title. The start times for the skate race were based on the finish times from the classic race, so that a composite of both races is used to determine the distance champion.

Mitchell DeLong held on to win the boys distance title, although teammate Jaszczak was closing in quickly. Stone (sixth) and Matt Chard (ninth) also finished in the top 10, giving the Ski Tigers a final team score of 148, good for first place by a wide margin.

The Ski Tigers girls finished in a close second place to Traverse City. Goble expanded her lead from the classic race to finish first place overall for the second consecutive year. Lyle (third) and Needham (seventh) finished in the top 10 for Ski Tigers.

In the past there has been a second day with 1-kilometer sprint races, but it was cancelled this year due to extremely cold temperatures and wind chills on Saturday.

Fueled by their strong boys team score, the Ski Tigers won the Michigan State Team Title for the third consecutive year.

“I’m very proud of all of these kids. They trained very hard all year, several of them have qualified for Junior Nationals [March 8-14 in Truckee, California] and I’m excited to see how they do there,” said coach Tom Wood.