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Bombers pull off sectional upset

Lake Placid senior Scott Schulz nears the finish line in first place during the Section VII finals at Mount Van Hoevenberg Thursday afternoon. Schulz will be looking for his third-straight individual NYSPHSAA title in just over a week at the state championships. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid boys and girls teams skied to narrow victories over Saranac Lake in their final home high school Nordic race of the season Thursday.

In the two-lap, roughly 8-kilometer race, Lake Placid standout Scott Schulz topped the field, coming across the line in 24 minutes, 44 seconds. The two schools alternated the next four spots, with Saranac Lake’s Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour (26:05) taking second, Kai Frantz (26:11) placing third, Jacob Alberga (27:29) crossing fourth and Lake Placid’s Mike Skutt (27:40) rounding out the top five.

Schulz, Frantz and Skutt claimed the Section VII boys team championship, while Schulz also won the individual title. Schulz is looking to win his third straight NYSPHSAA individual title at Bristol Mountain on Feb. 26 and 27. The Lake Placid boys team won its third-straight team title at last year’s championship, but Schulz is the only returning member of that squad. Henry McGrew graduated and James Flanigan is now studying and training at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, and is not competing on the high school team.

On the girls side, Saranac Lake sophomore Sylvie Linck captured the individual title, finishing in 31:03. Lake Placid’s Lily Flanigan (32:10) and Sara Rose-McCandlish (34:08) took second and third, while Saranac Lake eighth-grader Evelyn Eller (34:22) placed fourth and Lake Placid eighth-grader Annie Rose-McCandlish (34:53) rounded out the top five.

With the wins, Lake Placid is able to send boys and girls teams of three skiers each to the state meet. Flanigan and the Rose-McCandlish sisters will make up the girls team.

Saranac Lake sophomore Sylvie Linck crosses the line to claim the Section VII individual girls title Thursday afternoon at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

In addition to the Lake Placid squads, Saranac Lake will send six boys and an alternate, along with three girls and an alternate. Linck and Eller, along with Helena Dramm, will represent the red and white, with Ruby Smith as an alternate.

For the boys, Cheney-Seymour and his younger brother Colter will represent the Red Storm at Bristol, as will Alberga, Nick Kelting, Taylor Samburgh, Adrian Hayden and alternate Brennan Nobles.

“I think we have a really good chance of it [a repeat title],” Lake Placid coach Bill Frazer said. “But you never know. It’ll be a close one, I’m excited for it.”

Section VII is considered the most competitive section in the state in nordic skiing, but Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are the only two teams in the entire section. Frazer and Saranac Lake coach Keith Kogut each said their goal is to have all nine local boys crack the top-20 at the state meet.

“If we can do that, it’s really killing it,” Frazer said. “I think we get along really well. We work well together. I want to see our section do well too.

Mike Skutt, a sophomore from Lake Placid, nears the finish line during the second day of Section VII nordic skiing championships Thursday at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“And I think the kids see it that way too. They ski together so much and they’re all good friends [but] it’s good to have this close competition the last couple of days, because it made these kids ski harder. This one truly made them push it.”

Kogut said the Lake Placid girls team won by a point and the boys team won by two points.

“It was a little bit of an upset,” Kogut said. “It’s been such a fun season. For it to come down to the final day like this is just awesome.

“We knew it was going to be close for the boys, and obviously I’m bummed we didn’t come out on top, but the future looks so bright. I’m feeling really happy.”

Kogut said he thinks Schulz is likely to be state champion again, but said the Saranac Lake kids should do well.

Three Lake Placid and six Saranac Lake skiers will represent Section VII at the NYSPHSAA nordic skiing championships Feb. 26 and 27 at Bristol Mountain. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“For the girls, it’s a growing year,” he said. “Just get the experience under their belt and plan for the future. And for the boys, we’ve got nine really good kids going so it would be amazing if all nine could be in the top-20. That’s pretty amazing if we can pull that off.”

Schulz, who recently spent a week in Finland racing and had a stellar performance at a race in Vermont last weekend, said he’s feeling good just over a week out from the state meet.

“I’ll be really interested to see how we all do as a team,” the senior said. “I’m thinking about it [third-straight title] for sure. I’m super stoked for three years in a row, and I’m hoping I can.”

The sectional team will travel to Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua for the state meet. On Monday, Feb. 26, the girls will tackle a 7.5K skate course, followed by the boys’ 10K. The following day, the classic skiing team relays take place with the girls first and then the boys.

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