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People have always thought that Molly Fehringer was a little different. She’s always wanted to be outside and on a mountain if possible, regardless of the elements.

She remembered the times she was stopped in Lander and asked what she did for fun. After all, the Fehringers live in their own little oasis outside of town. Her answer to those questions tended to be one of many options: shoot things, go outside, run around.

“It’s totally different than anywhere else,” she said. “I’m lucky. I love it.”

The outdoor aficionado is enjoying her last year in this capacity. She’ll be moving to Gillette for college, where she’ll play soccer, over the summer. Urgency isn’t the right word to summarize the mentality to her senior year. That doesn’t fit her free-willing, outdoor spirit.

“It’s more of a, ‘It’s my last year so you might as well do it’ sort of deal,” she said.

Whatever her motivation, the decision has yielded results this Nordic season. She’s finished no worse than fourth in any race this season, including a win in the classic skate at Cody. She continued that trend over the weekend at the Cowboy State Games Cross Country Ski Championships, hosted by Casper Mountain Biathlon Club.

Fehringer was one of the many brave souls who competed on Friday through frigid temperatures and a blistering wind. Race organizers, including Natrona County Nordic coach Justin Kinner, waited at the finish line with blankets for the skiers.

The chill swept across the face of the biathlon course, blowing directly into skiers’ faces at the beginning, around the bowl and once again at the finish. Upon the conclusion of her race, Fehringer gladly welcomed another insulated layer. Even those who love being outside needed a little added help against the Wyoming elements.

“When we start off we’re really cold, but especially today, it’s really cold,” she said after the race. “That wind gets you.”

Having said that, she didn’t think Friday afternoon’s race would quite crack her top three coldest races. It was in the conversation, just not a lock. There’s some stiff competition in that conversation. She’s welcomed as many races as she could schedule since starting Nordic skiing in the fifth grade.

So there’s weight to statements she makes about how her final season is going.

“This is actually the best I’ve ever done, overall,” she said. “This is the best year of skiing I’ve ever had.”

The senior wouldn’t call her relationship with cross-country skiing love. That’s not quite the right word. To her it’s more bittersweet. Cold, demanding, enduring, yet fun. It’s also been rewarding to her and helped carve her into incredible shape.

Skiing, however, will take a backseat once this winter season ends. From that point on she’ll have a finale to her high school soccer career before starting her collegiate soccer career.

Soccer’s always been her favorite sport, so there was no doubt what sport she was going to pursue in college. The decision on which college, however, needed to be made. Yet another possible daunting task that she tackled with the casual nature of an endurance athlete.

“I went and visited Gillette, I knew (head coach) Nate (Ulness),” she said. “I liked the town, liked the team and the coach, so I just thought it would be fun.”

Fehringer signed to play at Gillette College in the fall, during the early signing period. She’s going to be a valued addition to the Pronghorns’ growing program. So far she’s tallied 16 goals and 15 assists for the Tigers, serving as one of 3A’s most dynamic players in that three-year stretch.

She’s excited about the prospect of adding more goals this season. And with at least an additional two years of soccer after that, she’s focused on improving this upcoming season.

Unlike soccer, her competitive skiing career will come to a close later this year. Fehringer is hoping to perform well at state. She thinks that she can win the classic and her consistent times support that thought.

It’s a strange sensation, being linked to multiple sports that end separately. Fehringer has gladly admitted that she loves soccer. She’s comfortable saying that much. Skiing on the other hand — it’s still not quite love. But it’s not entirely disassociated either. She’s conceded that she’s committed to it for the long term.

“Soccer is going to take precedent, but skiing is a life-long sport,” she said. “My coaches, I don’t know how old they are, but they love it and they’re still doing it. I’m sure it’ll be there the rest of my life.”

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

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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