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the Nordic Ski State Trio of (front) Berit and Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles, along with Jake Richards (back), are the most Laker skiers in the state meet ever.

Laker trio to make DLHS history at state meet

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The 2009-10 state Nordic ski meet can be looked on as a watershed moment for the Detroit Lakes boys' and girls' programs.

For the first time, DL is sending three skiers to the state meet, as sophomore Jake Richards and the brother/sister duo of Dylan and Berit Ramstad-Skoyles will hit the Giant's Ridge trails Thursday.

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The state meet will be Richards' and Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles' second trip, while Berit will be making her debut.

Expectations are higher than last year for both Richards -- who won the Section 8 title -- and Dylan, who finished fourth.

For Richards, the success he experienced this season has more than prepared him to set his goals high at state Thursday.

"I know I can finish in the top 10 in skate, so a top 20 finish (in pursuit) is a goal," Richards said. "Last year I was in the top 50 in classic and top 10-15 in skate."

Richards' skating earned him the section championship, after he trailed rival and friend Matt Lee of Bemidji by only four seconds after the classic race.

He dominated in the skate portion of the pursuit and won by over eight seconds.

"One good thing after section is I know I can beat Matt," Richards said. "And also taking fifth in the Mesabi East meet (which attracted 84 teams) will help with confidence."

After a 48th place finish in last year's state pursuit race, Richards learned to go full-out through each event.

"I just learned you have to go as hard as you can all the way through," Richards said.

The advantage of having Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles pushing him in each and every practice and race has helped develop Richard's performances, as well.

"It's nice having him push me and have someone on the team who is as good as Dylan," Richards added.

Dylan is entering the state meet with a good helping of motivation, after an unfortunate fall during the section meet cost him a third-place finish.

It happened when a Little Falls skier threw his broken ski pole across the trail in front of Dylan's path, and he tripped over it.

The Little Falls skier's teammate then passed Dylan to capture third.

Obviously, it wasn't done on purpose, Dylan said, but it still doesn't mean he won't be gunning for the Flyer in the state meet.

"This was the second year I got hit by a pole in sections," Dylan said. "But my goal is to beat every Little Falls kid out there. I want to prove I was the third-best skier in section."

Dylan wants to improve on his 103rd place finish from last year's state meet, with a top 80 finish this time around.

"I learned from last year, don't hold anything back," Dylan included. "When you can pass someone, do it. At state, I'm going after people."

Instead of just cheering for her brother in state, Berit Ramstad-Skoyles will be competing, as well.

She just missed landing in state last year by 20 seconds, and after a strong season of improvement this year, Berit qualified as just an eighth grader.

The Laker consistently placed in the top 10 of every meet and "just improved" every week.

Even though this will be Berit's first trip to state, she won't have that wide-eyed feeling some first-timers get.

"I won't be intimidated, because I skied Giant's Ridge a couple times already in big meets," Berit said. "I'm just going to go out and try my best and have fun with it, while trying to pass people."

But there was some brother/sister rivalry going on after Berit qualified for state.

"I'm glad she made state and happy for her," Dylan said. "But, yeah, I'm a little jealous she made it as an eighth grader and I didn't.

"But I also will take some credit because I promised I would wax her skies if she made state. So there was some motivation for her there."

The first run of the state meet -- which is the skate event -- will start at 9 a.m. and the second (classic) will be at noon.

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Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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