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Ashwaubenon boys win Hodag Challenge

By Cathy Putman
Special to The Press Times

RHINELANDER – Two days of snowy racing resulted in a win for the Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team at the Hodag Challenge in Rhinelander Jan. 18-19.

Fourteen teams comprising almost 100 high school boys from Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan competed at the event.

Bay Port’s Ryan Thieme took the overall title in the pursuit competition with the lowest time score over the two days of racing.

Daniel Huhtala (Ashwaubenon) was fifth, narrowly edged by Bay Nordic skier, William Murphy (Pulaski) in fourth.

Kevin Johnson (Ashwaubenon) finished eighth.

Completing the team roster were Alex Lukens (Ashwaubenon – 14th), Grant Rocheleau (Bay Port – 18th), Mason Vinoski (Ashwaubenon – 25th) and Joe Stumpf (Notre Dame – 31st).

In what might have been a preview of the upcoming state competition, Thieme’s overall time was one second faster than Eli Gore (Madison) and two seconds quicker than third-place finisher Noah Straka (Peak Nordic).

Straka was the first out on the day based on his previous day’s finish.

He maintained his lead past the halfway point of the 5-kilometer course before Thieme and Gore, who were then skiing together, caught and passed Straka.

Gore pulled in front, only to have Thieme pass him striding on a long climb and finding enough space to prevent Gore from drafting on the downhill.

Sam Calaway (Ashwaubenon) skied for ANST’s junior varsity team and finished fifth in the pursuit.

Teammate Jon Hanson (Pulaski), new to Nordic this year, placed 20th in the JV pursuit.

Two Parkview boys, Sam Sharp and Caiden Sarkela skied the middle school competition.

The two finished 24th and 42nd, respectively, in the pursuit.

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