Kaelyn Ambuehl

Sophomore Kaelyn Ambuehl finished 99th in pursuit at the state competition last winter.

Kaelyn Ambuehl is back to lead the way for the Burnsville Nordic ski teams this season.

The sophomore led the way for both Blaze squads in the first competition of the season Dec. 14, a South Suburban Conference freestyle race at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. She finished sixth overall in the girls race with a time of 22:01.4 on the 5,000-meter course.

Ambuehl was a first-time state qualifier for the Blaze last season, finishing 99th overall in pursuit, which is a combination of times from both the 5,000-meter freestyle and classical races.

Senior Zachary Friedmann is back to lead the Burnsville boys team this season. He nearly qualified for state last year, taking 18th in the Section 1 meet. He was two spots shy of the final individual spot.

The top-two section teams qualify for state, along with the top six individuals not on the two advancing squads.

In the first SSC race this season, Friedmann finished 17th overall with a time of 21:40.3. Sophomore Quinn Hess led the Blaze taking 14th (21:12.0).

Burnsville, which is a cooperative program with Shakopee during the regular season, ended up sixth in the team standings with 189 points. Prior Lake won with 253 points, followed by Independent School District 196 (248), Eagan (230), Northfield (227) and Lakeville (218).

On the girls side, Eagan-Eastview was the winner (271), followed by Rosemount (249), Prior Lake (236), Lakeville (232), Northfield (180) and Burnsville (134).

Other finishes for the Blaze boys came from eighth-grader Lliam Merrell in 29th (24:34.9), junior John Goettl in 34th (25:10.4), junior Matthew Kennedy in 38th (26:25.3) and junior Charlie McGuire in 40th (27:51.6).

For the Blaze girls, sophomore Kira Theng ended up 16th (24:05.8), followed by sophomore Emily Larsen in 30th (29:15.7).

This year’s SSC Championships are set for Feb. 1 at Hyland Park Reserve in Bloomington. The Section 1 meet will be held Feb. 8 at the same venue.

The state competition is scheduled for Feb. 16-17 at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Minneapolis South is the defending boys champion, while Forest Lake won the girls crown last year.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.