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PWER finish: Alpine team takes home first place awards

Woodbury varsity girls alpine ski team, one of five PWER groups hosting the Afton Invite, pose with their hardware Friday. Haley Roettger, left, and Anna Ciliske are pictured in the front row. Annika Melander, left, Cheyenne Warren, Emily Melander, Britta Blanding and Anna Beck are pictured in the back row. (Submitted photo)1 / 7
Connor Reiter hits the slopes earlier this season. (Submitted photo)2 / 7
Britta Blanding hits the slopes earlier this season. (Submitted photo)3 / 7
Park boys alpine skiers Jake Goecke, left, and Will Rustad don their green and white, “like two Luigis,” Coach Scott Melander said, as a show of sportsmanship. The Park group of the PWER alpine ski team won the Afton Invite’s inaugural Team Spirit Award on Friday. (Submitted photo)4 / 7
Alessandro Amores hits the slopes earlier this season. (Submitted photo)5 / 7
Zach Bollback hits the slopes earlier this season. (Submitted photo)6 / 7
The East Ridge varsity boys alpine ski team crowds onto the podium, with Alex Coutu, middle left, and Alessandro Amores perching the first-place trophy atop coach Scott Melander’s head. Alec Wagner left, Connor Reiter, Matt Kelly, Jayden Sailer, Alfonso Amores are pictured in the back row. (Submitted photos)7 / 7

The Park-Woodbury-East Ridge alpine ski team took home three big trophies Friday at the Afton Invite.

Woodbury girls varsity, East Ridge boys varsity and East Ridge boys junior varsity earned first-place honors, while Park Alpine received the sportsmanship award.

The wins are a program first this year.

"What it means to me is the right kids are peaking at the right time," coach Scott Melander said. "I'm just coaching them every day to do their best."

PWER has two conference meets this week, then the postseason begins. PWER and Stillwater alpine co-hosted the third annual invitational meet.

In the girls dual course team race, Woodbury edged Stillwater 478-477 in the 14-team field. East Ridge finished seventh and Park finished ninth.

Woodbury's Cheyenne Warren took fourth with a combined time of one minute, 10.88 seconds, on her two runs down the hill. Teammate Britta Blanding (1:13.79) earned an 11th-place finish, while Park's Emily Long led the Wolfpack with a time of 1:14.44, good for 13th.

Woodbury's Emily Melander (1:18.23), East Ridge's Grace Thomas (1:18.76) and Woodbury's Anna Ciliske (1:19.89) finished neck-in-neck, at 19th, 20th and 25th respectively.

Also scoring for Woodbury were Annika Melander (1:25.20) and Haley Roettger (1:26.55).

Backing up Thomas were Grace Heimdahl (1:21.38), Sunny Green (1:23.99), Valentina Pedevill and Savannah Speikers, all of whom earned points for East Ridge.

Along with Long, Quinn Bruning (1:26.04), Sydney Rohrer and Hannah Arland scored for Park.

Boys at home

In the Afton Invite boys dual course team race at the home hill for PWER, Woodbury finished fifth and Park ninth among 13 teams.

Woodbury's Andrew Thompson finished fourth in 1:04.25, two places ahead of teammate Hunter Holst (1:04.73).

While Alessandro Amores (1:05.36) was the first finisher for East Ridge, in eighth, he was followed by Alex Coutu (1:06.59), Alfonso Amores (1:07.11), Matt Kelly (1:07.70), Alec Wagner (1:10.92) and Connor Reiter (1:12.06).

The East Ridge team scored 503 total points to beat Stillwater Ponies, Hastings, Stillwater Mustangs and Woodbury, among others.

Woodbury's Zach Cartier, Corbin Johnson, Connor Arland and Adam Johnson scored points for the Royals.

Will Rustad (1:10.61), Noah Bruss, Andrew Miller and Jake Goecke scored points for the Wolfpack.

The sportsmanship award went to the Park boys, who coach Melander said dressed in Luigi-like suits, and "they cheered on East Ridge kids, Woodbury kids. They cheer on anybody and everybody that they know."

JV first place

The East Ridge boys junior varsity team's top four skiers took first, second, third and seventh place to win the dual course race with 391 points.

Joseph Stenger (1:11.01), Ike Sachse (1:11.64), Jack Lowe (1:14.41) and Mateo Taddeini (1:17.42)

But Jayden Sailer (1:17.69) and Jonathon Wozaniac (1:20.98) weren't far behind, finishing ninth and 13th.

The second-place team, Stillwater Mustangs, scored 352 points, but two of their skiers came in behind all of the Raptors.

Conference meet

PWER competed in the Suburban East Conference competition.

Blanding finished first among the Woodbury girls and sixth overall, with a time of 57.85 seconds, and Warren followed at 59.25 (ninth overall). Danielle Del Toro finished first among East Ridge girls (10th overall) with a time of 1:00.43.

Thompson finished first among Woodbury boys (seventh overall) with a time of 48.06, and Coutu finished first among East Ridge boys (eighth overall) with a time of 48.59.

The warm-weather and high-traffic conditions were "like skiing on a mountain of corn pellets" Jan. 24 at Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, Coach Melander said. "Thankfully, Wild Mountain was able to apply a treatment to the race hill prior to the event to harden the top layer of snow."

The hill held up for the girls races, but it significantly deteriorated during the second run by the boys.

Woodbury girls took third place as a team at the conference competition, with East Ridge finishing sixth.

East Ridge boys took third, while Woodbury finished in seventh.