Lakeville South coach Wayne Hill has already acknowledged he won’t have another group like this — not this good.
The Cougars edged Stillwater for last year’s state title, and have come back this season just as hungry, and maybe even faster. Lakeville South’s three seniors — Will Nida, Kyle Wentworth and Joe Olson — are three of the state’s best. Nida leads the charge, but his teammates have completed sweeps of the top three spots often this season, with Lakeville South’s fourth racer generally finishing somewhere in the five to seven range.
“I’m enjoying this, because this may never happen again,” Hill said. “They are all pushing each other and cheering for each other, and skiing really, really well, so it’s fun to watch.”
The Cougars are the likely favorites to repeat heading into Wednesday’s state alpine ski meet, and they aren’t packing away from those expectations. They bring pressure, sure, but Nida said they’re used to those.
“The pressure isn’t so bad when you have fun with it, I guess,” he said. “And that’s just what we’re doing.”
The conditions Wednesday won’t be easy. The soft snow could lead to rough terrain. Hill suggested a clean race may reign supreme. Advantage Cougars. Lakeville South’s seniors — while fast — also race clean. In high school skiing, finishing is of the utmost importance. It’s a message Hill has preached for years, and his seniors have pushed the message down the line.
“I think our experience will actually help us a lot,” Wentworth said. “I know the conditions will be a bit more difficult to work around, but I think myself and the rest of my teammates will do a very good job.”
That’s the plan, anyway. The goal at the start of the season was to repeat as state champs, and Hill noted his racers have executed every step of the way. There is no plan to stop now.
“Going back to back would really cement our legacy as a high school state program,” Nida said. “I think it’s our way of showing the entire state’s alpine programs what we’re capable of doing as a team together, and it really shows our depth and our legacy.”