2013-14 Winter Preview: PWER racers head for the starting gate
Expectations remain high for south Washington County’s six alpine ski teams as they move on without the state’s 2013 champion racer.
“It will be difficult to get to where we ended the season last year and we are training hard,” said Kevin Seipel, head coach of the Park, East Ridge and Woodbury (PWER) alpine teams. “Thanks to all three schools’ summer programs, they are coming to us in better shape than in past years and every bit is helping.”
Boys and girls teams from Park, East Ridge and Woodbury practice together as one unit but compete as individual programs.
The East Ridge Raptors move on without two key racers from the 2012-13 season – sophomore Jack Midtlien and 2013 graduate Elizabeth Koprucki.
Koprucki took home the state alpine title last season and now attends Montana State University, where she is contending for a spot on the college ski team.
Midtlien also departed East Ridge, but didn’t go as far. He traded in his gold and black for blue and white after transferring to Woodbury.
Seniors Mike Youngstrom, Colin Mead and Nick Warren will captain the boys team, which looks to build on a strong 2013 season.
Youngstrom, along with teammates Holton Sailer and Oliver Kennedy will look for a return to the state meet, which the Raptors boys reached for the first time in 2013.
The East Ridge girls team, captained by senior Stephanie Schmitz and junior Marissa Bilbrey, returns four of six section racers from last season. Seipel said this year’s team, which includes Abby Eggers, Karla Brady, Becca Lepel and Daniella Del Toro, has the talent to be a top competitor come section time.
The Woodbury girls team, captained by senior Sydney Johnson and sophomore Madison Wall, totals nine racers this season, including seniors Alex Gustafson and Sabrina Doeden.
This year’s girls’ side also includes a strong presence from underclassmen, which includes three eighth graders and two freshmen.
Seipel said young racers will be instrumental to PWER this year.
“We have a great group of new seventh and eighth graders filling the positions we lost from last season and even added to our numbers,” he said.
On the boys side, Seipel said the Midtlien’s addition makes the Royals an instant contender in the SEC and in sections.
“His team is really excited to have an incredibly talented sophomore and two-time state competitor coming to their team,” the coach said.
The Royals boys, captained by juniors Cole Bruesehoff and Ryan Febus, are without a senior on the nine-man team, though Seipel expected them to be “formidable” and in contention with East Ridge and Stillwater for tops in section and conference completion.
The Park Wolfpack boys turn to seniors Alex Bruss and Dan Rogers for captain duties on the five-man team.
Seipel said Rogers, who was disqualified at last season’s section meet, returns this year “with an added intensity to get past that race.” Seipel said that if Rogers harnesses that potential, he could be the first Park skier to reach state since he began coaching the team seven years ago.
On the girls side,
Sophomore Julia Deshler assumes captain duties for the girls team, which is comprised solely of underclassmen. Kaylee Allen is the only other sophomore on the five-person team, which includes two seventh graders and an eighth grader.