CASPER – The young athletes on the Pinedale High School Nordic ski team pushed themselves to the limits of endurance at the Casper Invitational on Jan. 6-7. The varsity competition consisted of a 5-kilometer freestyle race on Friday followed by a 7.5-kilometer classic race on Saturday – totaling approximately 7.8 miles of skiing.
Plenty of snow and a lack of wind on Casper Mountain created “great racing conditions,” said Head Coach Holly Thayne.
“It was beautiful both days and made racing very enjoyable,” she added.
Thayne’s team consists entirely of freshmen and sophomores who are new to the sport. The Casper Invitational was only the second or third race in their high school careers.
True to form, each Wrangler stepped up, gritted out the long-distance races and crossed the finish line.
“The kids have a lot to learn – they’re going into (the sport) all or nothing,” said Thayne. “They are improving dramatically with each race and are shaving minutes off their times. They’re learning so much and putting it all together. I love seeing the excitement and enthusiasm they show. I’m super thrilled with all of them.”
Freshman Olivia Tolson led the Pinedale pack in the girls’ varsity freestyle on Friday, finishing the 5-kilometer course in 20th place with a time of 20 minutes, 5.10 seconds.
Bryn Arne, also a freshman, placed 47th and posted a time of 25:17.60. Hitting the finish line a few seconds later, freshman Alyce Hayward placed 48th at 25:21.30.
Freshman Trayven Rouge placed 52nd in girls’ varsity at 27:50.50 with sophomore Mandi Kynaston in 53rd at 29:14.20, sophomore Marley Lance in 55th place at 38:01.00 and sophomore Katie Belka in 56th place at 40:56.20.
Freshman Fisher Mills placed 51st in the boys’ varsity freestyle on Friday, clocking in at 20:25.20. Fellow freshman Kaden Bingham came in 60th place, crossing the finish line in 22:39.10.
Dylan Covert, also a freshman, placed 63rd at 25:20.70 with freshman Keaton Jones in 64th at 30:49.30 and freshman Aiden Bucy in 65th at 32:51.80.
On Saturday, Tolson completed the girls’ varsity 7.5-kilometer classic race in 26th place with a time of 35:59.50. Hayward placed 46th at 42:41.00, Arne 49th at 46:12.60 and Lance 50th at 58:55.00.
Mills finished 51st in boys’ varsity, posting a time of 32:58.00. Bingham came in 63rd at 39:24.50, Covert 64th at 41:49.80, Jones 65th at 48:55.80 and Bucy 66th at 49:05.00.
Kynaston and Belka competed in the girls’ junior varsity 4-kilometer race on Saturday, placing 15th and 19th, respectively.