A strong finish to the regular season propelled the Newberg High School girls ski team to the state championships at Mt. Ashland last week, where the Tigers finished 14th out of 19 teams and got to experience new slopes and tough competition.
The club is led by coach Jeff Petersen and includes a boys and girls squad. While the boys didn't make it to state, the girls rose from seventh in their league to fifth in the final two weeks of the season.
Petersen said it is a testament to the team's resolve.
"The Newberg girls varsity team kept getting better every week," he said. "Nobody really expected them to go to state, but they had an incredibly strong finish. Through consistency they worked their way up through the standings and the last race of the season bumped them up from sixth to fifth and they qualified for state."
A victory in a Metro League race against Sunset in the final week ended up being the difference for the squad – consisting of 18 kids from NHS and two from Sherwood High School. The team often refers to itself as "TNT" because it practices as a unit with skiers from Tigard, Newberg and Tualatin.
Participation was the highest it's ever been this season, Petersen said, and the team hopes to keep growing and build off its girls' performance at state.
"State went fabulous as far as I'm concerned," Petersen said. "We were 14th out of 19 teams and it was a lot of fun for them. The weather was sunny and warm, which is great, but that made for some tricky snow conditions. It was hard, fast and chattery in the morning and slushy in the afternoon.
"We were down there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. Wednesday was the practice day, which was good because it was our first time up there at Mount Ashland. They raced Thursday and Friday and had fun getting some state experience."
This season was eventful for the Newberg-Sherwood squad as it had a star freshman in Jessica Trost from Sherwood along with six Newberg skiers participating in state. Trost finished 13th as an individual and was joined by NHS seniors Kate Ortloff and Claire Novak, juniors Taylor Moen and Breea Toomy, sophomore Josie Willcuts and freshman Audrey Barre.
That group of girls was laser-focused on making it to state as the season progressed, and the fact that they got there is worth celebrating on its own, Petersen said.
"You could see their determination each week after they'd check the standings," he said. "After about week four of our six weeks of racing, they realized they had a shot and they jumped two spots in the final two weeks. They did not give up."
For a full account of results from the Oregon high school ski state championships, visit www.oisra.org/alpine/state-meet-start-orders-and-results.html. More information on the organization that high school teams compete in can be found at alpinestaterace.org.
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