It was a wild week at Junior Nationals. It seems that Mother Nature wanted to make sure that these young skiers from around the country got a little bit of all types of Northeastern weather during their stay in Lake Placid. Rain, new snow, a little bit of everything was encountered this week. But that didn't stop the races, it just made things more interesting.
Things kicked off on Monday with the sprint races. In the boys J2 category, New England had three of the four boys in the finals. Dylan McGuffin (New England – NE) edged out Max Treinen (Alaska – AK), Kevin Cutts (NE), and Alex Howe (NE) for the win in the final heat.
New England took 1-2 in the girls J2 as Ida Sargent came in first and Jennie Bender second. Maisha Goodpaster (Far West – FW) was third and Jamie Woelk (Rocky Mountain – RM) rounded out the final in fourth.
The Boys J1 went as expected as Simi Hamilton (RM) and Matthew Johnson (AK) took top spots in the prelims and maintained those spots all the way to the end of the final heat. Marc Vanderhoof(NE) and Cameron MacKugler (NE) were 3rd and 4th.
Morgan Smyth (NE) was able to hold off two tough Alaskans, Elizabeth Quinley and Tazlina Mannix, to win the girls J1. Kati Clark (FW) also qualified for the final.
Casey Simons (Intermountain – IM) won the boys OJ sprint, ahead of Sam Naney (Pacific Northwest – PN), and Ben Cline (Midwest – MW).
Katie Ronsee (AK) took her #1 prelim time and rolled through the OJ girls heats for the win, ahead of Molly Gray (NE), Annelies Cook (Mid-Atlantic – MA), and Jennifer Wygant (MW).
In the Alaska Cup Trophy points, New England got off to a great start with 414 points, to get a 69 point lead on second place Alaska. The Alaska Cup is given to the top divisional team at Junior Nationals.
In the Boys J2, Kevin Cutts and Alex Howe moved up the podium a couple of notches from the sprints to take 1st and 2nd for New England. Matt Gelso (FW) was third.
Ida Sargent (NE) made it two for two, with her win in the girls J2. Maisha Goodpaster collected a silver to go with her bronze in the sprint, and Sadie Bjornsen (PN) was third.
The top three in the Girls J1 10K were in a class by themselves. Elizabeth Stephen – first (NE), Cassidy Edwards – second (GL) and Morgan Smyth – third (NE) were all a minute ahead of the rest of the field.
Speaking of a class by herself, that also applies to Kristina Owen in the girls OJ division 10K. She won by a minute! Katie Ronsee (AK) was second, and Sara Studebaker (IM) was third.
Simi Hamilton collected another gold medal to go with his gold from the sprints in the boys J1 15K. The first-year J1 had the fastest time of the day and was a minute up on the J1 field. Second was Simon Thomas-Train (MA), and third was Ben Koos (NE).
Ben True (NE) had a big win in the OJ boys class 15K, finishing 1:26 ahead of second place Casey Simons. Bob Baldwin was third.
New England opened a nearly insurmountable gap in the Alaska Cup race, taking over twice as many points in the classic races as second place Intermountain. Alaska was still in second overall, but over 300 points behind.
On Friday, racing continued with the skate races.
Alex Howe and Kevin Cutts once again did battle in the boys J2 5K, with Howe getting the win this time around. Dylan McGuffin (NE) was third to complete the New England sweep.
Sadie Bjornsen (PN) ended Ida Sargent's winning streak in the girls J2 5K, winning by 33 seconds over Alexa Turzian (IM) and Jennie Bender (NE).
Morgan Arritola (IM) won a very close race in the girls J1 5K with Cassidy Edwards (GL) second and Morgan Smyth (NE) collecting her third medal in three races with a third place. Arritola had the fastest girls time of the day.
Jennifer Wygant (MW) collected her first win of the week in the OJ girls 5k. Classic winner Kristina Owen was second, Elisabeth Halbermann (AK) was third.
Simi Hamilton was once again unstoppable. He made it a clean sweep of the boys J1 individual races, this time with a 21 second victory over Rocky Mountain teammate Glenn Randall. Russell Currier (NE) was third.
Bret Bedard (NE) won the boys OJ 10K with the fastest 10K time of the day, followed by Tim Damrow (MW) and Sam Naney (PN).
At the end of racing on Friday, it was clear that New England would be leaving with the Alaska Cup. They were once again heads and shoulders above the rest of the teams to extend their lead.
Junior Nationals concluded on Saturday with the relay races. Three person teams battled it out in each age group.
In the girls J2, The team of Sargent, Dreissigacker, and Bender had a tough challenge from Alaska, but managed to snag the win when Bender came all the way from 5th place to edge Alaska in a furious sprint by a scant 0.6 seconds. Mid-Atlantic was third.
The New England J2 boys' win was not surprising, given their medal sweep the day before. Cutts, Howe, and McGuffin led from start to finish, and combined to finish 45 seconds ahead of second place Rocky Mountain. Midwest was third.
In the boys J1, it came down to the fact that the sensational Simi Hamilton races for Rocky Mountain. The team was in 15th place after the first leg, and Glenn Randall managed to pull them up to 7th but Alaska still had a 30 second advantage. Hamilton took over from there and picked off the other divisions one by one until he had passed them all and secured a 6 second victory for Rocky Mountain. The was the icing on the cake for Hamilton, who left Lake Placid with four (!) gold medals and the most amazing performance of the week. Midwest was second, Far West third.
The New England OJ Boys team of Hall, True and Bedard had a solid victory ahead of the New England 2 team and the Alaska team.
New England also won the girls J1 relay. Smyth, Stephen, and Laura Specter lead from start to finish. Great Lakes was second.
The Mid-Atlantic home team pulled out a win in the girls OJ race, coming from behind on the last leg. The team of Taylor Leach, Cook, and Laura Van Alst won by 4 seconds over Far West.
In the final tally, New England was the clear winner of the Alaska Cup Trophy.
In addition, the national champion high school teams were also named. The Roger Westin Award for boys went to Wood River High School in Idaho, while the girls award was received by Truckee High School in Calif.
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