Slopes dominance

BELLAIRE – There was Marquette.

Then there was everybody else.

That’s how the MHSAA Division 1 boys ski regional at Schuss Mountain went on Wednesday as the Redmen cruised to the regional title, winning both slalom and giant slalom to score 26 points, far ahead of runner-up Traverse City Central’s 88. Traverse City West qualified in third with 112.

Marquette’s Joe Weber was the individual champion in both disciplines, and his teammates dominated right behind him, taking four of the top five spots in slalom and four of the top seven in GS.

“We had high expectations coming in,” MSHS coach Marty Paulsen said. “A lot of outside expectations put on the team. We just tried to ignore that and just focus on the individual job.

“I think each boy had our strategy for the day and attacked each course. Each boy contributed their part and it all worked out.”

The defending state champions showed why they are likely the favorites to repeat that feat at the state finals on Monday, Feb. 29 – a meet the Redmen will host at Marquette Mountain.

“We skied really well today,” Weber said. “Just like I thought we could. We thought we could win. We thought this was our race to lose.

“There’s a lot of great skiers here, but we’ve got a great team this year and we’re looking to keep going.”

The true display of the kind of depth the Redmen have was most apparent in slalom, where after the first run Marquette had the top four times and Weber’s run of 28.68 seconds was second behind teammate Bradley Seaborg.

But Weber followed with the only sub-30-second No. 2 run and edged Seaborg for first by 0.09 of a second. Seaborg added a fifth in GS in 49.6 seconds.

Drew Thomas, who finished third in slalom (59.01), was second in GS (48.75). Adam Skendzel took fifth in slalom (1:00.55) and seventh in GS (49.92).

“They’re pretty impressive to watch ski,” TC Central boys coach Nick Stanek said. “We’ve all seen them ski before, but they’re very talented individuals. They will be tough (at the finals).”

Stanek’s squad was led by Lars Hornburg, who showed he’s capable of skiing at an elite level, too. Hornburg broke up Marquette’s reign at the top of the slalom standings with a fourth-place finish (59.98). He also was eighth in GS (50.7).

Max Ranger joined Hornburg as a medalist in GS, when he finished 10th (50.93).

Austin Skibowski and Evan Culp were TC West’s top skiers on the day. Skibowski was fourth in GS (49.57) and seventh in slalom (1:00.92), while Culp took eighth in slalom (1:01.64) and ninth in GS (50.85).