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Tiger Nordic dominates at home

Bryce Evans
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox
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BRECKENRIDGE – Through the swirling snow, the first thing visible was an orange hat bobbing up and down a few hundred yards from the finish line. And once Summit’s Tucker McCrerey was in full view, coming down the home stretch of the race, everything became a whole lot clearer – The 6k, 13-team, 85-skier pursuit competition was officially a one-man race.

McCrerey crossed the finish line just as his closest competitor came into view and capped off an impressive day by the Summit High Nordic ski team with a dominating performance at Breckenridge’s Gold Run Nordic Center on Saturday.

“I attacked right off the bat,” McCrerey said. “I was feeling good and made it through the whole race (at that level).”

SHS senior Julia Hayes topped the girls’ field, the Tiger boys won both team titles (classic and skate) and the girls were third and fifth in a unique race on a difficult day in Breck.

A fresh heaping of powder covered the course early in the morning, and heavy winds hindered visibility throughout the day, making conditions tricky for a race that consisted of both classic and skate portions. Skiers started with a 3k lap of classic, cruising around to a transition station where they switched into skate skis and went out for a second lap.

Technically, the contest counted as two separate races, one for classic, one for skate. Racers were timed for each lap, allowing them to earn state-qualifying scores.

Although, the skiers were certainly more focused on the combined results.

“After the classic, you still have more,” Hayes said. “So if you won the classic, that’s great, but you have to sustain yourself to go for the whole thing. Winning all around is more of an accomplishment for me than just winning one or the other.”

Summit coach Hannah Taylor said the race suited skiers who were solid in both disciplines, like, say, McCrerey, who recently earned an alternate spot on the U.S. team heading to the Junior World Championships.

“Tucker’s Tucker,” Taylor said with a shrug about the star junior’s performance.

And, really, that means he was dominant.

McCrerey took a large lead early in the classic portion and never looked back. He was nearly 30 seconds ahead at the transition station and finished 35 seconds ahead of second-place finisher and teammate Jackson Hill.

“He’s definitely been skiing well,” Taylor said. “It was a good day for him having classic out front and being able to cruise through the skate.”

While McCrerey and Hill led the boys’ team to the finish, the Tigers’ had three more skiers in the top-eight of the pursuit race. Quinton Bobb, Liam McDonnell and Sam Piehl finished as a pack in sixth, seventh and eight places, respectively. Troy Meeker (13th), Duncan Koehn (15th) and Wade Rosko (19th) also had solid showings.

On the girls’ side of the race, Hayes may not have won as convincingly as McCrerey did, but her victory certainly showed why she’s arguably the top skier in the state.

Hayes paced herself out of the gates, partly due to the conditions and even more because she was focused on crossing first at the end.

She trailed by a narrow margin at the transition but switched her skis quickly and overtook the leader on the first climb of the second lap. She wound up winning the overall race – her second victory of the season – by 3 seconds.

And having the win on the Tigers’ home track was even better for the defending individual state champion.

“It’s always fun seeing that you can dominate on your home turf,” she said.

Hayes was followed by teammates Cali Greksa (16th) and Sophie Ferguson (24th). Mikka Wickman (30th), Katherine Pappas (31st) and Robyn Kresge (40th) skied well also.

“Our team’s doing so well, especially the sophomores,” Ferguson, a junior, said. “We’ll lose Julia next year, so everyone needs to step up. She’s like our savior, right now.”

The Tigers have now made it past the halfway mark on the season and have just three races remaining before the state meet at the end of February.

The Tigers travel to a race at Spring Gulch in Carbondale on Jan. 29, and are in Leadville the following weekend.

And Taylor likes the way her team looks heading into the final stretch.

“Everyone skied well today, there’s not much else I can say about it,” she said.


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