Dec 22, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorNick Merritt and Louisa Austin swept the individual ski races on Saturday for the Lander Valley High School Tigers at the Casper Invitational.
Merritt crossed the finish line first in the 5k boys race in a time of 20:06.9.
In the girls race, Austin had a winning time of 23:19.1.
"Nick had a good day," Lander coach Emily Tilden said. "We have a pretty significant gap to the mid-20s, so we have some work to do with the rest of the boys."
Tilden believes her two skiers should be title contenders all season.
"Nick and Louisa have trained had through the summer," Tilden said. "I'm excited to see what they can do this year."
Saturday's race started the ski season in Wyoming.
"The first meet is always great to get under you belt," Tilden said. "It helps get the nerves out of the system."
The meet was postponed for a week due to frigid conditions.
"We lucked out with some unusually pleasant temps on Casper Mountain, so it was a great couple of days of racing," Tilden said. "Truly, we couldn't have asked for better racing."
Tilden thought the race officials put in the extra time to prep the ski course.
"We had good coverage, and the course was great skiing," she said.
In the team races, Casper Natrona won both the boys and girls titles.
Laramie and Jackson finished second and third on the two sides.
The Lander girls and boys came in fourth.
"Jackson and Casper are always strong," Tilden said. "Laramie has also been coming on in the past few years, so really anything can happen."
Kelly Walsh, Pinedale and Cody rounded out the team standings.
"Our first-year kids really showed what they are made of," Tilden said. "Our veterans show how important training throughout the year is in order to be successful in this sport."
After the two winners, Lander' Emily Schimelpfenig was third in 24:39.8.
The Tigers compete Friday and Saturday at the Jackson Invitational.
"We do yoga to help recover from last weekend's races, intervals and an easy jog," Tilden said.
Results from Saturday's race at Casper Invitational
1. Louisa Austin, Lander, 23:19.1; 2. Riley Realing, Casper Natrona, 24:26.7; 3. Emily Schimelpfenig, Lander, 24:39.8; 4. Anna Gibson, Jackson, 24:54; 5. Anna Shilm, Jackson, 25:29; 6. Leann Beatley, Laramie, 25:29.9; 7. Ann McInroy, Laramie, 25:48.3; 8. Riley Gamer, Casper Natrona, 25:51.1; 9. Kelly Krause, Jackson, 25:51.4; 10. Kat Gruner, Natrona, 25:57.6.
Other Lander placers
13. Morgan Robins, 26:20.6; 43. Kayley Hart, 42.30.
1. Nick Merritt, Lander, 20:06.9; 2. Trevor Wiloughby, Casper Natrona, 20:29.4; 3. Will McDonald, Laramie, 20:33.3; 4. Kolia Noah, Pinedale, 20:50.9; 5. James Pickett, Natrona, 21:01.8; 6. Trent Hover, Natrona, 21:11.1; 7. Andreas DeGraves, Natrona, 21:26.0; 8. Joe Jacobs, Natrona, 21:54.5; 9. Brady LaChance, Natrona, 22:08.6; 10. Dylan Price, Kelly Walsh, 22:39.6.
Other Lander placers
26. Marten Baur, 25:22.6; 28. Duncan Gans, 25:34.2.
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