TRAVERSE CITY — Carlee McCardel wanted to end her freshman year on a high note.
The St. Francis skier had already had a standout season by winning a regional title and leading the Gladiators to a state finals berth.
Monday became the icing on the cake. McCardel won the Division 2 state championship in the giant slalom, and became the first St. Francis freshman to win an individual state title — regardless of sport.
"It means all my hard work has paid off," McCardel said. "That's what my parents have been telling me ever since I was a little kid. To win that state title, makes it seem like it's actually true."
McCardel finished in 1:02.24 and was more than a second ahead of Harbor Springs' Abigail Hackman (1:03.67).
"The one girl that would have been close, Rose Pellegram (from Harbor Springs) had one of the funkiest crashes I've ever seen in my life," Elk Rapids/St. Francis coach Ben Ferris said. "She would have been the one to get close, I think."
"I wasn't expecting to win by that much, so it was a surprise," McCardel said. "But it's really exciting."
While McCardel has had a good year in both disciplines, GS has certainly been her strength. She's been skiing since she was 2 years old and racing since second grade.
"I've always like GS the best," McCardel said. "It really started clicking for me this year, with the technique and everything. I just love skiing. Like my coach says, you roll it up on edge and let it turn. You can really do that well in GS."
After a bad second run in the morning slalom on Monday, McCardel had some added nerves for the afternoon GS race.
"After the first run, when I finished that, I was really excited," she said. "I just wanted the same for the second run."