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Sandy Girls Win Second Straight Ski Racing Title

By Ty Walker

Sandy Girls Win Second Straight Ski Racing Title

The Sandy High School girls ski racing team won the Mt. Hood League championship for the second straight season. A core of returning seniors – Elle Schreiner, Nia Hamalainen and Sophia Brown – led the charge as the team finished strong at Mount Hood Meadows last month.

Schreiner took second place in the slalom and Hamalainen finished second in the giant slalom. Despite having its first two meets canceled due to low snow levels, the team was skiing in top form by the end of the six-meet season.

“The beginning of the season got off to a rocky start, pun intended,” Head Ski Coach Josh Kanable said. “But by the end of the season it was awesome. We had plenty of snow.”

“They fought hard to clinch the number one spot for the Mt. Hood League for a second season in a row,” Kanable said. “Due to the offseason training and extra practices, returning seniors Nia Hamalainen, Sophia Brown and Elle Schreiner kept the girls team one step ahead of Hood River and Grant High School this season.”

First place was not guaranteed until the last of six races. Some incredible runs made by sophomores Anika Wipper and Anna Nguyen helped Sandy win the conference by two points.

The eight-team Mt. Hood League includes The Dalles, Hood River, Grant, Cleveland, St. Mary’s, Barlow, Reynolds and Sandy High School.

The boys team took fourth place in the Mt. Hood League competition. With a promising group of returning athletes, Kanable expects them to be even better next year. The boys team was anchored by returning athletes Ethan Van Hee, Dylan Brown, Ansel Ofstie and Mario Heckel.

Freshmen Beck Schreiner and Grant Messenger came out of nowhere and pulled more than their weight to help the team earn a spot at the state finals.The boys team will miss Senior Cameron Jones next season.
Kanable had high hopes for Sandy as the teams went on to the state ski racing championship March 7-8 at Mt. Hood Meadows. But they fell short of expectations.

“Our regular season was phenomenal,” Kanable said. “But we didn’t place as high as we wanted at state. We took some falls.”

Hood River, a team that Sandy had beaten in the league season, came in second in the state championships.

The Sandy girls placed eighth out of 19 teams at state, while the boys finished 16th. In the giant slalom, Wipper took 23rd, Schreiner 32nd and Nguyen 70th for the girls. In the slalom, Nia Hamalainen took 16th, Wallace Hamalainen 46th and Schreiner 54th.

Schreiner was invited to compete at the Western U.S. High School Championships at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., which brings the top athletes from the western United States together.

“As a coach the best part of this season was watching the group effort by the girls team,” Kanable said. “When one athlete faltered another would step up at every race.”

“The first place finish also belongs to Freshman Wallace Hamalainen, who ran at the back of the varsity lineup all season. Her consistent racing managed to secure points in three out of six races.”

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