The foundation was set for the Scott West Nordic ski team last winter in their inaugural season.
And now, Panthers coach Lisa Jamison is hoping to build on it.
Last season, Scott West, a cooperative program with Belle Plaine, had 20 skiers out for the team, 12 boys and eight girls. Fifteen of them are back, along with 13 newcomers.
“Our hope is continue to improve our racing times this year,” Jamison said. “We want to move the team up in the conference and section standings, as well as have a lot of fun so that we can continue to grow in numbers on our team.”
Juniors Emmett Fahey and Andrew Norberg are captains for the boys team, as are senior Aria Jamison and junior Basia Babcock for the girls squad.
Other skiers back who competed last winter are seniors Kevin He and Adam Stiemke, juniors Kaleb Sharp, Nick Weedman and Paul Stoterau, sophomores Tony Lederle and Addison Kraus, ninth-graders Caden Riga, Addy Giles and Bekah Stiemke and eighth-graders Jesse Sullivan and Isaac Bemmels.
Newcomers include Evan Olson, Wells Jackson, Ezra Fahey, Jake Warden, Nathan Ludwig, Jackson Nagel, Bethany Pint, Lila Bungarden, Belle Jeurissen, Grant Haefner, Tirzah Juaire, Kiera Walkington and Avery Benson.
Last season, Jamison said the COVID-19 restrictions didn’t allow for a full season. Teams didn’t start skiing until after the New Year, so there had to be a faster learning curve for her program.
“We missed out on a lot of conditioning, time on the snow and a variety of different types of races,” Jamison said. “This year we started Nov. 15. We have had over four weeks of strength and conditioning training, as well as additional dryland technique training.”
Scott West competed in their first meet Dec. 15 at Elm Creek Park Reserve against Wright County Conference foe Holy Family and DeLaSalle. Not all the WCC teams are able to compete
Both Panther teams took first in the triangular competition. On the girls side, Babcock won the 4,000-meter freestyle race with a time of 15:23, while Sullivan took second (15:26).
In the boys competition, Weedman had the top time (12:28), followed by Sharp in second (12:30).
“It would have been nice to really see what the conference has for skiers and how we compare, but we were just happy to ski,” Jamison said. “This first win will make both our boys and girls feel good.”
Other finishes for the boys team included He (4th, 13:23), Riga (6th, 13:42), Stiemke (7th, 13:49), Bemmels (8th, 13:57), Norberg (10th, 14:26), Fahey (11th, 15:09), Lederle (15th, 16:32) and Stoterau (20th, 18:41).
For the Scott West girls, others racing were Jamison (4th, 16:47), Giles (5th, 17:27), Walkington (6th, 18:26) and Stiemke (8th, 23:00).
Jamison said getting an earlier start to the season has helped the teammates get to know each better and has made practices more productive.
“We will get to experience a few different racing facilities than we did last year,” Jamison said. “If the weather is cooperative. we will also have twice as many races this season prior to conference and sections than last season, which will help our skiers feel more confident about their racing abilities going into those championship meets.”
Scott West is part of Section 1 with the likes of strong programs like Prior Lake, Eagan-Eastview, Rosemount and Winona.
The Section 1 meet is set for Feb. 8 at Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington. This year’s state competition will be Feb. 16-17 at its annual site, Giants Ridge in Biwabik.