The first runs Monday afternoon at Mount Kato Ski Area showed the potential for the Northfield girls alpine ski team.

The second runs showed the floor for the Raiders, who — despite not receiving valid times from three of their top five skiers — still finished third at the Big 9 Conference championships thanks to a level of depth that filled into the empty slots.

“We had a tough go there, but they were working hard, trying hard and they were going for it,” Northfield coach Tracy Closson said. “We got the demons out for next week before sections, but we weren’t too far out of it. We were ahead after the first round.”

After the first run, Northfield possessed a narrow lead against Mankato West — the two favorites entering the day — for first place. The Scarlets claimed the title somewhat comfortably with clean second runs, but the Raiders still finished narrowly behind Rochester John Marshall in second place despite those three empty slots at the top of the lineup.

Senior Libby Brust led the way for Northfield in third place individually, while Camryn Zotalis nabbed fifth. After that, Clare Zadra (ninth), Briana Novak (12th) and Annika Johnson (19th) filled out the remaining three scoring spots.

Olivia Murphy, Ella Hegseth and Clara Wilson were all in the top third of the 45-racer field after their first runs, but all three either did not finish after crashes or were disqualified for missing a gate on the second runs.

The boys team finished fifth and was paced out front by Billy Wilson, who sped to second place individually.

“Today was one of the best races I’ve seen from him,” Closson said. “He was solid and this was a tough course with the slushiness, but he powered through it.”

Also scoring points for the Raiders were Lennon Watkins (12th), Grant Bouvin (28th), Turner Harris (31st) and Hunter Buysee-Quan (33rd), according to the official results.

Next up for both teams is the Section 6A race at Buck Hill Ski Area in Burnsville, where the boys will race in the afternoon Wednesday, March 3, and the girls will compete the morning of Thursday, March 4.

Reach Regional Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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