HRVHS ski girls take league crown

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

February 24, 2007

Hood River girls put the icing on the cake with another win in their final league race last Saturday, finishing the season with an overall first place in the Mt. Hood League. Kayla Lloyd, Ashley Kastner, Claire Snelling and Morgan Nance finished first, second, third and fifth place respectively.

This was by far the closest race we’ve had all year,” Coach Peter Nance said. “It was won by four hundredths of a second, with Kayla catching Ashley in the second run.”

Whitney Fox, Molly McCulloch and Katherine Rouse finished seventh, 11th, and 13th overall for girls, which translated to first, second and third place for JV girls. Eagle girls captured the top three awards in both varsity and JV at the Kip Johnson Challenge at Ski Bowl.

Tyler Sassara, who has struggled with injuries all season, was able to put two good runs back to back for a ninth place finish, the highest of Hood River’s boys. He was followed overall by Sam Mears in 10th, Taylor Bentz in 12th, and Nick Maslen in 13th. Taylor Bentz’s 12th place equated to a first place for JV boys.

Overall Hood River’s boys finished third in the league. “The week before they missed a first place finish by only four tenths of a second,” according to Nance. “Had that ended slightly better, things might look differently at this point.”

Many racers encountered problems on a slalom course that included technical and fall away gates, including the Eagle’s Colton Swearingen, Gary Paasch, Toby Carratt, and Caley Melton.

“Many of our strong boys and girls were going with the Bode Miller philosophy,” Coach Peter Nance recalled. “They’re ‘either I’m gonna win or I’m not gonna finish’ strategy meant some kids had amazing runs, but some didn’t finish to their usual abilities. I was really impressed by their willingness to go for it.”

The final race brought with it individual standings from all six events. The Eagles finished the season with seven girls in the league’s top ten (Ashely Kastner, 1; Kayla Lloyd, 2; Claire Snelling, 3; Morgan Nance, 5; Jessica Ostler, 6; Whitney Fox, 7; Toby Carratt, 9). On the boys’ side, seven placed in the top 20 (Colton Swearingen, 6; Sam Mears, 11; Nick Maslen, 15; Tyler Sassara, 16; Taylor Bentz, 18; Gary Paasch, 19).

As far as league races go, last week’s was the last high school race for seniors Nick Maslen, Gary Paasch’s and Emily Kao. Seniors Kayla Lloyd, Claire Snelling, and Jessica Ostler will finish their seasons at state.

The varsity girls’ team will head to the State High School Alpine Championships this week, represented by Kayla Lloyd, Ashley Kastner, Claire Snelling, Jessica Ostler, Morgan Nance and Toby Carratt. Whitney Fox and Molly McCulloch will attend as alternates.

Two Eagle boys will also compete as individuals. Colton Swearingen earned a spot in the grand slalom, and Sam Mears earned a slalom slot.

The Eagles have not met any teams outside the Mt. Hood League since the three-league Cato Memorial in early January. The Varsity girls, undefeated in their league, won that race by only a second, according to Nance.

“We are expecting Bend and Southern Oregon to add to the strong competition,” he said. “There are some very good teams in Oregon ski racing. At this point we are mostly fine tuning our race techniques, focusing on very specific areas.”

The State Championships are scheduled for March 1-3 at Mt. Ashland.

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