The South Tahoe boys and girls did exactly what they needed to do Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Diamond Peak Ski Area and Incline's two seniors Belle Johnson, Rachel Meyer and freshman Niklas Pietzke all advanced to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association State Championships that will take place later this month on the North Shore.
The Vikings boys qualified in the second position while the girls finished in third after the final Tahoe Basin Ski League race.
Incline's Johnson won her second straight race after claiming first Feb. 8 at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Johnson and Meyer finished first and third in the overall point standings.
"We had a small group, but I'm very proud of them," said Incline head coach Doug Brubaker. "While the majority of our team is freshman, they showed great improvement. Incline has less than 300 students, yet we remain competitive against schools with 1,000 students."
South Tahoe is one of those schools with 1,000 students and its depth helped the Vikings get stronger each week and continue to reel in North Tahoe, the overall boys and girls champions.
"The race was super competitive, as a lot of coaches brought many of their top racers," said South Tahoe head coach Barbra Bedwell. "It was a fun course with a flat, but icy, top section with a couple of flush gates that were really tricky, then a nice steeper pitch with technical gates. It really favored technical skiers who could run clean, strong edges."
Luke Allen led the Viking boys with a fourth-place finish after winning his first league race of the season the week before at Heavenly, just edging Whittell's Payton Norton — who won Tuesday's race at Diamond Peak. Also for the Vikings, Logan Langemeier came in ninth, Noah Lyle, Cameron Grant and Foster Saunders were 13th, 14th, 15th, respectively, Aaron Johnson was 18th and Matt Sullivan 20th.
North Tahoe boys and girls each finished first, Douglas boys came in third and the Truckee girls finished in second.
The Vikings girls faced stiff competition with most schools bringing their top athletes in the final meet of the season to prepare for the state meet.
"Our ladies definitely had a more challenging finish, especially because Truckee brought many more of their top racers this week," Bedwell said. "And Belle Johnson from Incline always wins."
Summer Furrer led the Vikings girls by finishing 13th. She was followed by Carissa Buckley, Kelsey Buckley, Tyler Pevenage, Shelby Lyon and Natalie Frazier who finished 15th through 19th, respectively.
"It was a good finish for us," Bedwell said. "I'm really proud of how our students handled themselves on the hill. I've really been emphasizing leadership and sportsmanship among our athletes. As I finished my last big email to my team: I think we're the best team in the league. We're not necessarily 'faster' but we are definitely 'better.' I'm proud to work with them. It's going to be really fun to celebrate our hard work with two more days of skiing and racing at state."
The state meet will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 27-28, at Alpine Meadows. The kids will compete on a slalom course Tuesday and giant slalom on Wednesday.
"I am so proud of all our skiers, not only for their skiing ability, but also their spirit and positive attitude," Brubaker said. "I am excited to see Belle, Rachel, and Niklas Pietzke at the state finals in two weeks."