Girls’ Nordic: Kearsarge wins third straight D-III title

Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

After winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017, the forecast for the 2018 Kearsarge girls’ Nordic season wasn’t very clear.

A strong group of seniors had moved on and depth was a question facing coach Kevin Lee. He knew that he had strong skiers in the sisters Lili and Marliese Baer, but he didn’t know who would step up and give the team some depth.

“Coming off of last year, we weren’t sure what we would have,” he said.

In the meet that mattered most, the Cougars’ supporting cast backed up the Baer sisters and carried Kearsarge to its third straight Division III title at Great Glen Trails on Tuesday.

The Cougars packed five skiers in the top 10 in the classic and freestyle races.

Lili took first in classic and third in freestyle, while Marliese placed third in classic and second in freestyle. Jenna Bears was close behind with a fifth-place finish in freestyle and seventh in classic.

Marlia Richer (seventh freestyle) and Jenna Cook (sixth classic) also contributed points based on their finishes to help Kearsarge (774 points) edge Fall Mountain (755) for the title.

It turned out that depth wasn’t a problem at all. And with a team made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores – the Cougars had one senior and no juniors this year – the future is bright.

“They’re a really strong group and were able to just power through (being a young team),” Lee said.

The Cougars have made it a tradition to sign their names on the back of their championship plaques, including their runner-up plaque in 2015.

The lone senior, Hayden Keene, who finished 12th in classic, has the distinct honor of being the first Kearsarge skier to put her name on four plaques.

The Baer sisters have emerged this season as the Cougars’ most dominant weapons. Lili, a freshman, was a standout skier in Kearsarge’s middle school program. Marliese, a sophomore, finished in the top five in both disciplines at the championship meets last year in Gorham.

“They’ve been two of our best skiers all year,” Lee said. “They flip-flop depending on the course and the day.”

Richer is another freshman that stepped into a big role for the Cougars this year,

“Marlia is a good skier,” Lee said. “This year, she really dedicated herself. She worked all fall working on her technique and building her stamina through cardio. As she got better, she pushed others to get better as well. It was really great to see that.”

The program reset six years ago and pushed for more involvement at the middle school level. Years later, the middle school program has become a consistent feeder to the high school team, particularly for the girls.

Kearsarge went into the afternoon freestyle race with a nine-point lead over Fall Mountain. White Mountains finished third with 721 points, ahead of Bow in fourth with 710.

Point-scorers for Bow included Gwen Molind (14th freestyle, 14th classic), Tessa Thomas (15th freestyle), Isabelle Dolcino (16th freestyle, 16th classic), Brianna Boone (18th freestyle, 18th classic) and Libby Parker (15th classic).

Marliese Baer, Lili Baer, Bears, Richer, Dube and Cook qualified for the Meet of Champions.

Division IV

The Inter-Lakes girls’ Nordic team won the Division IV championship at Mount Sunapee, its first title since 2004.

The Lakers (758 points) edged Hopkinton (747) to claim the crown. Three-time defending champion Moultonborough placed third with 736 points.

“They just really focused and zeroed-in on the competition and skied well,” Inter-Lakes coach Steve Olafsen said. “They really wanted it.”

The Lakers were led by Maya Weil-Cooley (first classic, third freestyle), Alison Haight (second classic, second freestyle), Willow Strother (10th classic), Catie Leberman (11th classic, seventh freestyle) and Raven Strother (14th freestyle).

Hopkinton’s Emma Rothe won the freestyle race and placed third in classic to lead the Hawks. Lily Sabol (fourth classic, fifth freestyle), Lillian Eckberg (eighth classic, 12th freestyle) and Carley Kanter (14th classic, 17th freestyle) contributed points for Hopkinton.

“They worked extremely hard this year knowing they had a shot at the championship,” Hopkinton coach Rob Rothe said. “Though they came up a little short, they put it all out there and I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts and accomplishments this season. They have been a tight-knit team, and the loss of senior Carley Kanter next year will be a big loss.”

Rothe, Haight, Weil-Cooley, Eckberg, Sabol, Leberman and Willow Strother qualified for the Meet of Champions.