Irondale skier has big week

Mattie Watts put together quite a week recently. The Irondale High School senior is an accomplished Nordic (cross country) skier and put those talents to good use last week.

Early in the week, Watts competed in the U.S. national championships in Utah and performed well enough to make the U18 national team. She will take part in an international competition called the Scando Cup later this month in Finland.

The top six athletes from the national meet qualified for the meet in Finland and Watts ended up third overall. Her top race was the 1.3-kilometer sprint, in which she finished first. She also competed in a 10-kilometer classic race and a 5-kilometer skate race.

After returning from Utah, Watts got ready for and skied in the Mesabi East Invitational at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik. With most of the top high school Nordic skiers in attendance, Watts took second in the freestyle race.

Watts entered the Mesabi meet ranked second in the state in’s high school individual rankings. Her performance at the Mesabi meet helped Irondale to an 11th-place finish out of about 70 teams.

Teams earn points based on the finish of their top two skiers in both the freestyle and classic races. Joining Watts as Irondale’s point-earners were Lili Tapper, who finished 46th in the freestyle race, and Laura Jankowski and Hanna Boleman, who took 28th and 84th, respectively, in the classic race.

Irondale was fifth in last week’s team rankings.

Irondale’s boys also competed at Mesabi and finished 17th overall. The Knights’ top skiers were Joey Jankowski (37th) and Joe Kelner (83rd) in the classic race and Tim Axberg (41st) and Corey Momsen (60th) in the freestyle.

Mounds View

The Mustangs also competed at the Mesabi Invite on Saturday. Senior Steve Hokanson had a strong performance as he finished second in the boys freestyle race and helped his team to a 13th-place finish.

Hokanson was fifth in last week’s individual state rankings and beat three of the skiers ranked ahead of him.

Mounds View’s other top performers were Joe Morey, who took 63rd in the freestyle race, and Dalton Pauley and Jack Christianson, who were 14th and 75th, respectively, in the classic race.

For the girls, Mounds View’s Rossy Natale led the team in the classic race and Claire DuBois set the pace in the freestyle race.

In addition to the Mesabi Invite, Hokanson also competed in the U.S. national championships last week in Utah. He did not qualify for the U18 national team.

Brian Meyers can be reached at Minnesota Nordic ski racing team rankings (Jan. 7)

1 - Forest Lake
2 - Duluth East
3 - Minneapolis Southwest
4 - Mounds View
5 - St. Louis Park

Others: Ely, Osseo, Stillwater

1 - Wayzata
2 - Duluth East
3 - Stillwater
4 - Robbinsdale Armstrong
5 - Irondale

Others: Mesabi East, Burnsville


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