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Ellefson skis way to state Nordic meet

Summer Ellefson earned her fifth consecutive trip to the state Nordic ski meet after repeating as the Section 8 champion.

Park Rapids' Summer Ellefson qualified for her fifth consecutive state Nordic girls ski meet by repeating as the Section 8 champion last Wednesday at Camp Ripley.

Ellefson, who competes for the Northwest Independent School, led the 55-skier field with a pursuit time of 36 minutes, 17 seconds. The Park Rapids junior had the fastest time in the 5K classical race at 19:01 and had the fastest time in the 5K freestyle race with a 17:16.

Little Falls senior Manon Gammon-Deering finished second in 36:55 and was followed by Little Falls sophomore Chelsea Rutz in 38:19, Detroit Lakes freshman Berit Ramstad Skoyles in 38:48 and Little Falls freshman Kaitlin Geisenhof in 39:09. Gammon-Deering took second in the classical race with a time of 19:21 and was second in the freestyle race with a time of 17:34.

"I knew that I had a good chance to win sections and qualify for state again as long as I raced up to my potential," said Ellefson. "The conditions were great, but the freezing temperatures made for some really slow snow. Comparing my times to previous years, I was happy with how they were considering this year's conditions."

The state meet will be held Thursday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. The 5K freestyle race will begin at 10 a.m. followed by the 5K classical race at 1:30 p.m.

Ellefson prepared for the section meet by finishing first in three meets during the regular season.

At the Detroit Lakes Invitational on Jan. 4, Ellefson took first with a time of 32:12.

At the Mesabi East Invitational on Jan. 8, Ellefson finished sixth out of 177 racers in the 5K classical event with a time of 20:12.

Ellefson led the field at the Little Falls Invitational at Camp Ripley with a winning time of 39:00. Ellefson clocked a 20:38 in the classical race and an 18:22 in the freestyle race.

In the final regular-season meet, Ellefson took first at the North Star Conference meet at Itasca State Park on Feb. 1 with a time of 24:22. That meet was a 6.2K classical race.

Ellefson will be looking to continue her successful season and aim for another top 10 finish in her fifth trip to state.

As a seventh grader, Ellefson finished 83rd with a time of 40:48. As an eighth grader, Ellefson moved up to 15th place with a time of 38:56. Ellefson finished 10th as a freshman with a time of 36:07. Last year, Ellefson finished 24th with a time of 36:21.

Ellefson enters the state meet ranked No. 4 in the state. Topping the state rankings are Ely's Amy Bianco, Duluth East's Annie Harvieux and Burnsville's Sharmila Ahmed. Six skiers - Forest Lake's Liz Peterson (eighth), Mound-Westonka's Julia Harrison (11th), Stillwater's Nora Gilbertson (12th), Eagan's Sonja Hedblom (13th), Minneapolis Southwest's Emily Minge (16th) and Roseville's Zoe Reker (17th) - return after placing in the top 20 at last year's state meet.

"I am expecting to be in the top 10 at state, but it would be great to be in the top 5," said Ellefson. "I am pretty confident that I can do this as long as I stay healthy."