Absences make WHS, STHS stronger
KIRKWOOD – It was a banner day for both of South Tahoe High’s ski teams and Whittell’s boys team.
The Viking girls took home the Tahoe Basin Ski League championship Thursday, while the boys finished first, just two points ahead of North Tahoe.
The Warriors boys were just five points off the pace and finished in third for the day with 160 points.
Although many of the teams’ premier skiers were in Mammoth Lakes for a Far West event, the Vikings still had four boys and girls finish in the top 15.
“I’m stoked about the kind of day we had,” Viking coach Mike Shreve said. “North Tahoe girls consist of a lot of very good skiers who don’t ski Far West.
“So our girls still taking first, without six of them, is a great achievement.”
South Tahoe only brought 18 of the 36 team members to Wednesday’s season-ending event. But it was the ability of the team to rise to the occasion that allowed the Vikings to have a great day on the slopes.
One of the Vikings who had a spectacular day in the slalom format was Jennifer Wolf, who posted a season-high finish of 25th.
“When I first got here (in the beginning of the season) I was flying everywhere, my skis were all over the place,” Wolf said. “Coach taught me how to carve and use my edges better.
“But I was still surprised with my finish (today). I didn’t think I’d be better than 50th all season.”
The top girl finisher for the Vikes was Janae Apland, who placed third overall, heading a list that included a top-10 finish from Casey Rise as well.
The boys were led by Toby O’Brien (fourth), Nick Martin (seventh) and Aaron Strickley (eighth).
“They boys were unbelievable. They had the heart to win today,” Shreve said. “These guys really bumped it up with so many absent.”
The Whittell Warrior boys had their best day all season as three skiers were in the top 15. Ben Johnson celebrated his birthday with his best finish of the season – second – while Brett Schussel also had a fantastic race as he finished sixth overall.
“It was a good finish for us,” Schussel said. “We had some key guys missing, but the other racers stepped it up for us.”
As the day went along, the Warriors realized they had a legitimate shot at taking the boys race and their confidence grew heading into the second run.
“We were just five points off the lead,” Warrior coach Mike Kiger said. “After the first run, we saw that they were in the thick of things and they put on a good challenge.”
The other top-15 finisher for the Warriors was Justin Darrow, but it was the strong skiing of Johnson that really propelled the Warriors into contention.
“We had a good week of practices out at Heavenly,” Johnson said. “The coaches really helped us out and it showed today.”
The Warrior girls finished fourth but received some strong individual performances from Ashley Daw (17th), Jannette Bak (23rd), Alison Dunleavy (27th), Brooke Schussel (28th) and Kathy Kiger (30th).
The performances by both teams give the Warriors confidence heading into Tuesday’s league championships at Alpine Meadows.
“Going into next week, Brett, Sean (Weatherston) and I should be in the top-16,” Johnson said. “The girls got some good experience as well. We should do pretty well at Alpine.”
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