Prep ski preview: Northmen look to remain at the top of the mountain
Petoskey sophomore Gunnar Lundteigen returns to the slopes in 2012 after helping the Northmen claim the Division II state championship last year. (News-Review file photo)
Both the Northmen boys and girls teams earned Division II state championships at Boyne Mountain under second-year coach Travis Hill, who’s teams utilized their depth en route to their first dual state championship since 2008.
This season, the Northmen once again have plenty of depth and talent. They’ll get their first chance to see how they stack up with the annual Harbor Springs-Petoskey Invitational on Monday, Jan. 9, at Boyne Highlands.
“We’ve been on the snow now for three solid weeks and that’s been good,” Hill said. “We’re looking strong, but we’re also young. That can be looked at as a good thing and a bad thing in a way.”
The Petoskey girls graduated the program’s most decorated skier, four-time state champ Victoria McVicker, to graduation.
Big boots to fill, no doubt.
“If you took Tori out of the picture, we were really a no-name team,” Hill said. “We had expectations as to how to perform and we were always aware of the competition.
“We were very humble in the sense we weren’t scared of what else was out there.”
The Northmen return a solid junior quartet in Reilly Philliben, Lisa Dinon, Jill Antonishen and Claire Brummler, along with sophomores Mia Ciccoretti and Mikaela Naybeck.
Philliben was sixth last season in the GS at the state meet.
“Reilly is in great shape,” Hill said. “The entire team is in great shape and it’s been amazing watching them train on dry land and then to see what they’re capable of.”
Andrew Hamlin is the lone senior on Petoskey’s boys’ roster, while other key personnel include juniors Ben Loomis, Matt Dankert and Noah Honaker, along with sophomore Gunnar Lundteigen.
Hill said sophomore Caelen Smith has also shown tremendous improvement from last season to this. He is among a number of the returnees who have made big strides, Hill said.
“It starts with their consistency in runs in practice and we’ve had very strong and competitive practices,” he said. “We haven’t had too much upheaval as far as the running order goes.
“Kids have just gotten faster.”
Hill said he expects Monday’s season-opener at the Highlands to once again be a good measuring stick as the Northmen square off against several Big North Conference foes, along with the likes of Harbor Springs and Traverse City St. Francis-Manistee.
“I think the season should be a good one,” Hill said. “It could get off to a slow start, but it should get stronger as the season goes on. We just have to be consistent and confident in each other to pull through at the end.”
Coach Jane Ramer returns most of the personnel to her girls’ team, which finished second behind Petoskey in the 2011 Division II state finals.