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Ellefson qualifies for state ski meet

Park Rapids' Summer Ellefson qualified for her fourth straight state Nordic ski meet by winning the Section 8 title Wednesday at Camp Ripley.

Ellefson led the 46-skier field with a pursuit time of 35 minutes, 37 seconds. The Park Rapids sophomore won the classic race with a time of 19:08 and followed with a winning time of 16:29 in the freestyle portion.

Little Falls' Manon Gammon-Deering was second in 36:53 and Bemidji's Molly Manske was third in 36:59. Manske had the second fastest time of 19:33 in the classic portion while Gammon-Deering followed Ellefson in the freestyle leg with a time of 16:47.

"Going into sections I was very confident that I would qualify for state. I also wanted to win the section meet, but I was sick with the flu the week before so I didn't know how it would turn out. I didn't really have any strategy. I just wanted to go fast and do my very best," said Ellefson. " My classic race went pretty well and I had a good-sized lead. The skate race went really smooth and I gained even more time on the other competitors. Comparing my time to the past years, I feel that I did well and I improved both my skate and classic time by about 45 seconds."

The state meet will be held Thursday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Ellefson will be seeking to continue her climb up the ranks against the state's best skiers.

As a seventh grader, Ellefson finished 83rd at the state meet with a time of 40:48. As an eighth grader, Ellefson finished 15th in 38:56. Last year, Ellefson moved up to 10th place with a time of 36:07.

Ellefson, who finished third at last year's section meet, enters this year's state meet rated No. 6 in the latest state poll.

Ellefson tuned up for the section meet with solid performances during the regular season.

At the Detroit Lakes Invitational on Jan. 5, Ellefson had a winning time of 29:09 in the 10K event.

At the

Giants Ridge Invitational on Jan. 9, Ellefson finished fourth overall with a time of 19:39 in the 5K race. Jess Diggins of Stillwater was first in 18:17, Annie Hart of St. Paul Academy was second in 18:26 and Paige Schember of Wayzata was third in 19:15. Diggins, Hart and Schember are rated 1-2-3 in the state. There were 80 teams and 390 skiers at that meet.

Ellefson also finished first at the Otter Tail Nordic Classic Invitational on Jan. 12 with a time of 22:04 in a 6K race.

Now Ellefson is looking to cap off the high school season with another top-10 showing.

"My main goal for state is to work hard and do my best," said Ellefson. "If I accomplish that, I expect to place in the top 5. I believe that it is possible if I am healthy."