It seems the Spring Lake varsity ski team opened a lot of eyes at the Division 2 regional meet at Boyne Mountain in Charlevoix on Tuesday.
“There was a lot of talk of who that Spring Lake team was and who's that girl. Wow,” said Lakers' coach Gary Roberts. “It was a great day. We did what we had to do and what we knew we could do.”
'That girl' who helped Spring Lake clinch a berth to the Division 2 state finals is junior Nora Reed.
Because there wasn't enough interest to form a Lakers' girls ski team in early November, Reed and fellow female teammate Mariada Gezon were faced with the proposition of competing against the boys this winter.
It's was a challenge that Reed said she was excited to tackle.
“It's kind of fun, but a little intimidating,” she said. “I did it my freshman year (when Spring Lake was a club team). The level of competition is obviously higher but that just makes me work a little harder.
“It's more satisfying knowing I'm beating the boys, compared to going against a level playing field.”
Reed has beaten plenty of boys this winter, as she's led the Lakers to a finish in the upper half of the Greater Grand Rapids Ski Conference, with one meet to go, as well as Tuesday's stellar regional showing.
The Lakers finished second in the overall standings, with the top three teams moving on to the state meet. Petoskey was the runaway champion at the regional, finishing with 21 combined points to the Lakers' 111.5.
Reed placed seventh in the slalom and 10th in the giant slalom. In both events, she turned in times faster than 60 or more boys.
The only Laker faster than Reed in the giant slalom was her younger brother Bricker, a sophomore. He turned in a combined time in the two runs of 1 minute, 01.45 seconds, which was good for eighth overall.
Harrison Palmer was 19th for the Lakers, Collin Roberts was 28th, Alec Palmer was 37th, and Gezon did not finish.
In the slalom, the Reed siblings flourished again, with Bricker placing fourth overall (1:15.51) and Nora about four seconds behind. Harrison Palmer and Roberts with 17th and 18th, respectively, Alec Palmer was 31st and Gezon placed 58th.
Nora Reed said it's always been a competitive battle on the slopes with her younger brother, considering they grew up in a ski-crazy family. Their father, Mont, is a ski instructor, while mother Becky grew up ski racing in Traverse City.
“I started skiing when I was about 2,” Nora said.
Any opportunity she's had at advancing herself in the sport she's taken the challenge, including trying to qualify at Junior Olympic meets at Marquette, racing in United States Skiing Association events since she's been 11, or battling against the best in the Midwest at International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions, which she's been involved with for the past year.
“I've gone all over the Midwest, like Minnesota and Wisconsin,” she said. “One of the last (meets) I was at, on the guys' side there were two from the U.S. ski team, which was pretty exciting.”
Of course, competing for her own school has been equally exciting, especially since this is the first season that Spring Lake fielded a varsity team.
“We found out around mid-Novemeber,” she said. “I think we were more excited that we would be able to compete at regionals. We've been able to ski in conference in the past, but the level of competition is more intense at regionals.”
Despite the fact that the Lakers have a very small team of just six members, Reed said they had confidence that they could accomplish a lot this winter.
“My little brother is always really good and Harrison and Collin both have raced a lot of years,” she said. “We were pretty confident we could have a really good season.”
Any racers at Marquette Mountain on Monday, Feb. 25 who underestimate a girl on the slopes could be in store for a rude awakening.
“I like Marquette,” Reed said, who hopes to ski collegiately on the east coast after high school. “It's a good hill and its starts are always really nice.
“I would love to get a top 10 in either one of the events, that would be a great accomplishment. It will be difficult, but we'll see what happens.”