The Prior Lake boys Nordic ski team is headed back to Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
The Lakers qualified for the state meet for the seventh straight season, taking second in the team standings at the Section 1 meet Feb. 7 at Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington.
Led by senior Evan O’Connor and junior Tommy Simmonds, Prior Lake finished with 370 points, nine behind champion Independent School District 196.
Winona-Cotter was a close third (368), followed by Northfield (345), Eagan (325), St. Thomas Academy (316), Burnsville-Shakopee (316), Lakeville (307), Hastings (301), Simley (247) and Park (140).
The top two teams make the state field, along with the top four individuals in pursuit and highest finishing sprint relay team not on the advancing squads. Pursuit is a combination of times from both the 5,000-meter freestyle and classical races.
Last winter was the first state meet where sprint relay teams were part of the overall team score. In past seasons for sections and state, each team would have seven skiers in pursuit. The top four finishers from each team would determine the team score.
The new format still has seven skiers from each team competing, but two are part of the relay and the other five are in pursuit. The top three in pursuit are part of the team score, along with each team’s relay finish.
In the girls section competition, Prior Lake just missed a state team berth taking third with 376 points. Winona-Cotter won the title (384), followed by Eastview-Rosemount (381).
Visitation ended up fourth (323), followed by Northfield (316), Eagan (309), Simley (291), Burnsville-Shakopee (288), Lakeville (195), Hastings (162), Independent School District (135) and Park (20).
The Laker girls had three individual state qualifiers in pursuit in sophomores Sophia Basile and Brooke Marquardt and junior Hannah Cole.
For the Prior Lake boys, O’Connor won the section pursuit title with a combined time of 24.22.8, while Simmonds was second (25:04.9).
Junior Aiden Rosemeier ended up 14th (28:02.0) for the boys squad, followed by sophomore Ledger Sears in 25th (31:11.3) and ninth-grader Bjorn Olson in 32nd (31:59.5).
In the relay, sophomore Tegan Moore and junior Alex Krawza teamed up for the Laker boys and finished sixth (12:38).
For the Prior Lake girls, sophomore Morgan Richardson and senior Sophia Jacobson finished fourth in the relay (13:44).
Basile ended up fourth in pursuit (31:03.0), followed by Marquardt in sixth (31:13.4) and Cole in seventh (31:16.6). Sophomore Eliana Reckmeyer ended up 17th for the girls team (34:20.0), while sophomore Kaitlyn LeClair was 26th (36:32.2).
The state competition will be Feb. 15-16 at its annual site at Giants Ridge. The Laker boys were sixth in the state team standings last year, while O’Connor ended up 15th overall in pursuit while Simmonds was 19th.