Only one Mt. Hood Conference race remains this season, and the Hood River Valley ski teams have just one thing on their minds heading in: State.
After last Saturday’s race at Mt. Hood Meadows, both the boys and girls teams are sitting in a comfortable position to qualify for the March 6-7 OISRA State Championships at Willamette Pass.
But, comfortable as they may be, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to earn it.
Barlow is nipping at the Eagles’ heels in both the boys and girls divisions, which means HRV must ski a strong race today at Meadows to guarantee a state berth.
“This is a really big race for both teams,” coach Jessica Gunesch said. “It’s our last league race, but it’s also our last chance to prepare for state. If we just keep doing what we’ve been doing, though, we should qualify.”
Gunesch said earlier in the season that as long as her skiers were posting finishes, they would be in contention. And she had reason to celebrate last Saturday as all 11 skiers who participated, finished.
“I think what’s been helping us is that we’re not trying to do too much,” Gunesch said. “We’re just skiing like we know how, and that has been the key.”
After last Saturday’s third-place performance, the girls now sit tied with Sandy, and are in a position to win the league title. Senior Candice Hoag led the way last weekend, finishing third, and was followed by freshman Jessica McMorran in sixth, sophomore Aileen Herlitz in 12th, and senior Lindsay Heppe in 23rd. Sophomore No. 3 Shanna Cochran did not race.
Meanwhile, the boys are a lock for second place in the league standings, as long as three of the seven team members cross the finish line. Sandy sits in first, while Barlow is a distant third, giving the Eagles plenty of momentum in today’s race.
Senior Justin Wiley led the boys team last week with a third-place overall finish. He was followed by freshman Fletcher Hukari in fourth, sophomore Alec Asbridge in fifth, and junior Tyler Nelson in seventh.
Junior Luke Pennington placed 11th, freshman Tony Guisto took 15th, and
junior Kyle Griffith finished 20th.
For a wrap-up of today’s final league race, see the Feb. 22 edition.