FROM STAFF REPORTS
BOYNE FALLS — The strategy was simple — stay close in the slalom, then make a move in the giant slalom.
The St. Francis-Elk Rapids girls co-op ski team executed the plan to perfection Tuesday, finishing third overall in the Division 2 regional at Boyne Mountain and earning a berth in the state finals.
Petoskey won the regional with 57 points. Harbor Springs was second with 72 and St. Francis-Elk Rapids third with 126.
St. Francis-Elk Rapids trailed Houghton by six points after the morning's slalom.
"Slalom's been the weaker of the two disciplines for us," co-coach Ben Ferris said. "Our goal was to keep the slalom close and then ski GS like we've skied it all year. We skied slalom well enough (Tuesday) to stay within six points of third (Houghton) and then we skied GS like we always do. We had an amazing first run. That's (giant slalom) been our saving grace."
Freshman Carlee McCardel led the way, winning the giant slalom in 1:02:44. She trailed Petoskey's Mia Cicorretti by a razor thin margin — 30.39 to 30.40 — after the first run. Cicorretti finished second overall in 1:02.60.
"She's (McCardel) been skiing giant slalom really well all year," Ferris said. "She had a great first run. She was just one-hundreth of a second back. That second run, she nailed it.
"She set the tone for the rest of the girls."
Haley Chell came in 16th (1:07.23), Lauren Hansen 19th (1:08.00) and Krissi Dressler 20th (1:08.20).
In the slalom, McCardel took ninth (1:22.94), Dressler 10th (1:24.59), Hansen 21st (1:29.80) and Sara Trilla 30th (1:40.74).
The state finals are Feb. 25 in Marquette.
"This regional is more competitive than a lot of the other regionals," Ferris said. "With Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Spring Lake, the Upper Peninsula teams, there was an amazing number of talented skiers out here today. This was a hard race. We're excited to be going as a team."
Cicorretti paced Petoskley. She won the slalom in 1:17.69. Petoskey had four of the top seven in slalom to build a 24-point lead in the morning.
Meanwhile, the Petoskey boys put on a dominating performance, finishing with a near perfect score of 21. The Northmen swept the top four spots in giant slalom and four of the top five in slalom.
Gunner Lundteigen was a double-winner, taking the giant slalom in 58.54 and slalom in 1:12.08.
Spring Lake came in second with 111.5 points and Houghton third with 121. Harbor Springs missed a state finals berth, placing fourth with 147.5.
"That was a shock," Ferris said.
Bellaire's Ben Hicks picked up a pair of top-10 finishes. He was sixth in the giant slalom (1:01.25) and eighth in the slalom (1:19.09).
Nick Cunningham led St. Francis-Elk Rapids, which took sixth. He finished 13th in slalom (1:21.35) and 20th in giant slalom (1:03.58).