Nordic Ski Invite

Varsity girls line up for a semifinal heat last season during the Don Jacobson Memorial Invitational Nordic ski race on Casper Mountain.

File, Star-Tribune

Despite the lack of significant snow on Casper Mountain, the new prep Nordic skiing season has already begun.

The first Nordic practices were back on Nov. 13, but the first meet of the season will begin on Friday, two weeks after the West Yellowstone Camp.

While there are just seven teams competing in Wyoming, there has been just one champion in recent memory. Jackson has won every team title, both boys and girls, since the 2012 championship meet.

But that run could be in danger of ending this season.

While third-place finisher Max Wilbrecht returns with classmate and fellow top-10 finisher Jack Cornish, the Jackson boys will likely be tested by Laramie and Natrona County all season.

The Plainsmen return reigning Nordic state champion Liam McInroy and reigning cross-country state champion Albert Steiner. Steiner took fourth in the classic last year as a junior.

Natrona County was second at last year's state meet, 30 points behind Jackson. The Mustangs will be headed by Adam Pickett, who took second in the freestyle and sixth in classic last year. Ben Radosevich and Christian Bjorklund, both of whom also finished in the top 10 last year, will join Pickett in an effort to capture the program's first Nordic ski championship since 1999.

Noah Gans, the Lander standout who took second in the classic and third in freestyle last year, looks to capture the championship in his senior season.

The Jackson girls also return to defend their crown but the team will take on a dramatically different look this season.

Annabel Hagen, who took second in both the classic and freestyle last season, is the only one of Jackson's top five to return for this season. That leaves the window of opportunity open for the other six programs to make a charge.

Natrona County lost a lot to graduation and will have to rely on an inexperienced group of racers in hopes of repeating a second-place finish.

One of the top returning skiers in the state is Lander's Molly Fehringer, who took fourth in the freestyle and sixth in the classic last season. She had the second-best times, behind only Hagen, in both among racers returning this season.

Laramie could put together a charge with both Abigail Whitman and Marlena Meyer back to improve on their finishes. Whitman was top 10 in both classic and freestyle while Meyer had Laramie's third-best times in both.

Zoe Noble of Pinedale is a dark horse this season after finishing 11th in the freestyle and 13th in the classic as a junior last season. With most teams losing top racers to graduation, Noble is one of the few top skiers back for more.

Teams will have an opportunity to asses themselves in two meets before the two-week winter break. Then it's a seven-week season leading up to the state meet at Happy Jack in Laramie on Feb. 23-24.

Hopefully, there will be plenty of snow by then.

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @Brady_CST

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Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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