HARBOR SPRINGS — Marquette made up a lot of ground in little time.
The Redmen, who lost to Traverse City Central in regionals two weeks ago, put that in the rear-view mirror by winning the Division 1 state championship Monday at Boyne Highlands.
“At regionals, we knew we still had a lot more to give,” Marquette’s Joe Weber said. “TCC, they’re a good team, but we knew we could be a lot better. We just performed.”
Central won by 37 points two weeks ago, but the Redmen turned the tables and won by 13 this time.
“Between the two Traverse City teams and us, it’s anybody’s game,” said Marquette coach Marty Paulsen, who won his third state crown in five season at the program’s helm. “Everybody has to have their ‘A’ game on that day. I knew our guys had the potential. We just needed to all have four good runs.”
Clarkston’s Derek VanItallie won both individual titles, winning the slalom by a half second over Bloomfield Hills’ J.T. Stewart and the giant slalom by only 0.49 second over Central’s Lars Hornburg.
“Lars skied excellent, Dirk Phelps and Brendan Wells were excellent,” TC Central coach Nick Stanek said. “We’re happy with our second place. Marquette always has a (good) ski team up there — and they always will. Maybe next time.”
Even with VanItalli’s efforts, the Wolves were a distant third. Marquette scored 47 points to 60 by TC Central and 114 from Clarkston.
That regional setback wasn’t necessarily a motivating factor, Weber said, but it didn’t hurt to avenge it to win the school’s 10th boys championship.
“We were just looking to get to states, that’s it,” said Weber, a junior who has won a team state title every year in high school.
Weber took third in slalom and fourth in GS to lead Marquette. His older brother Nick was fourth in slalom and fifth for the GS.
Drew Thomas — who along with Joe Weber crashed at regionals — claimed fourth place in GS and eighth in slalom to give the Redmen three top-10 finishers in both disciplines.
“Marquette just had a better team,” Stanek said. “It was that simple. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was a lot we could have done to change the outcome of that.”
Thomas had to hike at regionals, and they had to count that in slalom.
“Nick Weber is our sole senior on our ‘A’ team,” Paulsen said. “A young team. Nick, as a senior, took on a lot of leadership this year. His brother Joe is a junior and also a very mature racer and took on a lot of leadership this year. Their maturity helped these guys focus as a team and put on the best performance they could.”
Marquette’s effort allowed them to offset the loss of Nathan King in slalom this time around.
“Nate King had a great first run in slalom,” Paulsen said. “Unfortunately, he got hooked up on a gate in the second run, but our fourth seed, Adam Skenzel, he’s a sophomore, and he knew he didn’t put on his best performance his first run and he came back strong and had a great performance for the team.”
Skenzel would place 10th in slalom and 13th in GS as Marquette’s last counter in each.
Traverse City West placed sixth, holding off Brighton for that spot by seven points.
Central’s effort was led by Hornburg’s second-place slalom runs and a bunched group thereafter.
“I was really happy with that — definitely better in slalom than in GS, but overall I was really happy,” Hornburg said.
The Trojans took places 12-15 in giant slalom with Hornburg, Tyler Sepanik, Teague Tompkins and Brendan Wells. In GS, Wells was sixth, Dirk Phelps seventh and Sepanik 13th.
“He’s a lot of fun to watch ski slalom,” Stanek said of Hornburg. “His first one was the one that looked the fastest, just because the course was a little more open.”
Freshmen Max Ranger and Tompkins were in Central’s top six. They’ll lose seniors Zak Collins, Phelps and Sepanik.
“We beat them at regionals, but today was just not our day,” Hornburg said. “We didn’t put it together quite as well as (in regionals).”
Hornburg said this season was the quest for Central’s 20th state championship. And as a junior, he’ll be able to continue that quest next season.
Meanwhile, TC West’s sixth-place finish is a building block for the future.
“We just didn’t have the depth,” Titans coach Ed Johnson said. “We have some young guys, which potentially could be really good in upcoming years. We had a couple exchange students that didn’t have a lot of experience and a couple guys that really knew what they were doing.”
“We were really happy to have the guys team there as a group,” Johnson said. “I was really proud to just have them there. That much was a big accomplishment.”
West’s Austin Skibowski was the only Traverse City boys skier to place in the top 10 in both disciplines. He took eighth in slalom and 10th in GS.
Evan Culp was 18th in giant slalom, but slalom did in the Titans, who only had three racers finish both runs.
After winning regionals, several West skiers said finishing in the top five would be a difficult goal, but the Titans came up only 10 points shy of that Monday.
“And they had an awful time in slalom,” Johnson said. “If they had just performed average in slalom, I’m sure they’d be in the top five.”