MIAA Nordic Ski Championships: Mohawk’s Erika Looman finishes 8th

  • Mohawk Trail senior Erika Looman, right, skis up behind Mount Greylock’s Jackie Wells during the MIAA Nordic Skiing Championships on Tuesday at Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vermont. Looman finished eighth overall to lead the way for the Warriors. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2020 9:58:39 PM

WOODFORD, Vt. — Going against the best competition in the state on Tuesday, Mohawk Trail’s Erika Looman continued to impress.

The senior placed eighth overall out of 123 finishers at the MIAA Nordic Skiing State Championship held at Prospect Mountain. Looman crossed with a time of 27 minutes, 3 seconds on a tough course that stretches over seven kilometers.

The Warriors placed fifth as a team on the girls side, an impressive feat considering the small number of skiers on their roster.

“Eighth is the goal I had in mind going into the meet,” Looman said. “I was really happy to get that. I wanted to help my team and go out in my last race strong. I’ve raced a lot of the Eastern Mass. girls this season so I was aware of how strong they are.”

Looman was especially proud of her team’s accomplishment, as the program hasn’t found its way into the top five as a team in a number of years.

“I don’t think anybody else on the team understood what fifth (place) was like,” Looman said. “We’ve been sixth a bunch of years in a row.”

As a captain, Warrior coach Mark Pollard said he couldn’t have been more proud of his senior leader. After a stellar regular season, capping it off with a top 10 finish at the state meet was the cherry on top. 

“She’s been phenomenal,” Pollard said of Looman. “She sets the pace. She’s our captain but she’s not one of the stuck-up captains who doesn’t want anything to do with the younger kids.”

Lenox took first on the girls side as a team, with three girls placing in the top five individually. Wellesley’s Sophia Sirica took first with a blazing time of 23:27, followed by Dover Sherborn’s Mica Bodkins in second, coming across with a time of 25:15.

Mohawk’s Katazyna Wisnauckas went into Tuesday’s meet hoping to finish somewhere in the top 30 after placing in or around the top 10 during the Berkshire Nordic League slate all season long. She accomplished her goal, taking 26th with a time of 28:54.

“Our team has done really well all season,” Wisnauckas said. “Personally, it’s been a really good season. A lot of the Eastern Mass. girls are really good here today.”

Having already raced at Prospect Mountain twice this season, Wisnauckas said she and the Warriors knew what to expect when they arrived.

“I thought it was going to be the gradual flats but it ended up being gradual uphills,” Wisnauckas said. “The snow was a lot faster than I anticipated and we liked that a lot. Having it be over seven kilometers was a lot more than usual. We’ve had two league meets here so we had already done some of the loops.” 

It was a successful season for the Mohawk girls, which took first in their league during the regular season. The Warriors’ performance on Tuesday only helped add to the growing level of respect the program has amassed.

“Nobody takes our sport seriously,” Wisnauckas said. “To be able to say we got first in our league, they kind of respect us more and the sport and the work we put into it. It makes it more legit.” 

Lilliana Manley was the next Warrior racer to cross, taking 38th overall with a time of 31:08. Sylvie Mahon-Moore (53rd), Kala Garrido (55th), Eleanor Meunier (70th) and Brooke Looman (115th) rounded out the Mohawk racers.     

“They’ve worked really hard all year,” Pollard said. “They have a really good energy. It’s been a great season. Everybody laid everything out there. Everybody worked hard today. There was nothing left in them.” 

On the boys side, the Warriors had just three racers attempt the course, all finishing around the same time.

Withstanding the tough conditions for the boys, who competed after the girls, West Williams finished with the top time for Mohawk, coming in at the 31:22 mark. 

“I think it went pretty good for me today,” Williams said. “I did better than I expected to in the conditions. The snow was thick and it gripped my skis more than I would have liked but everybody is in the same conditions.” 

Williams felt he was propelled by the top competition around him. Racing with the top heat, he said he pushed himself harder than he had all season.

For a first-year Nordic skier, placing 94th was a great day for Williams.

“The more people you’re with, the more you want to stay with them,” Williams said. “Especially with the small size of our team, I was positioned closer to the front with the faster skiers than the level I’m at which pushed me to stay with them. I’ve enjoyed just a steady increase and growth. I was expecting today to be one of my better races and it was.”

Mohawk’s Vincent Gauthier took 97th overall with a finish of 31:45, followed by Daniel Tetreault in 103rd with a time of 32:40.

“It was OK. The snow was wet so it was slower,” Tetreault said. “I like it faster and easier during the races. For practices it’s OK, races it’s not as fun.” 

Like Williams, Tetreault felt he pushed himself harder knowing he was going against some of the best skiers in the state. 

“It definitely makes you want to go harder than you normally do,” Tetreault said. “Competition does make you want to do better.”

With just a three-man team, Pollard said he’s seen each of his skiers take leaps forward throughout the season, and hopes they can keep progressing as the years go on.

“They’ve grown a lot,” Pollard said. “They’re a tight group but they’re very young. It’s a long-term kind of thing. Just trying to build them and in a couple years, they’ll be good.”


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