CARIBOU, Maine — The plentiful snow in November produced an earlier than normal start for Caribou’s Nordic ski team.
“We had an ideal start,” said third-year head coach Evan Graves. “The weather hasn’t been an issue as it has in years past with the cold, and the early snow allowed us to be on skis working on form, and we’ve been able to get in some good workouts.
“The early start has allowed us to focus on some great drills to get kids used to being on skis and that foundation is huge in this sport,” he added.
The Vikings compete against Ashland, Fort Kent, Madawaska, MSSM and Presque Isle in Aroostook League meets held at venues throughout the region.
Seven of the 13 members of the boys’ team are returnees from last year’s squad, while the girls are much younger, with only three veterans back from last year and no seniors on the eight-person roster.
“The kids have really stepped up into roles to be leaders on the team and they are working hard,” Graves said.
The 2017-18 team was senior laden, with Emerson Duplissie-Cyr turning in a top-10 effort at the boys’ state meet in classical racing and Ciara Richards placing among the top 15 at the state level for girls in both freestyle and classical skiing.
“We certainly miss [them], but the kids this year have really been stepping up,” Graves said.
The boys are led by seniors Kyle Boucher, Noah Hixon and Tommy Pinette and sophomores Dakota Yakel, Carter Belanger and Malachai Willey. Macy Wakem, a sophomore, has been the top performer for the girls. Junior Emma Hixon is off to a strong start with her continued improvement. Freshman Chloe Sleeper has made a solid adjustment to high school skiing.
The boys’ roster also includes sophomores Jordan Duplissie, Alex Ring, Brady Miller and Ryan Dee; and freshmen Ulli Margeson, Richard Mladek and Nicholas Margeson. Rounding out the girls’ team are juniors Victoria Leavitt and Heather DeMerchant and freshmen Aida Smith, Avery Knowles and Emily Saied. Graves said assistant coach George Ferland is a great asset to the program.
“We’ve been working on team goals and individual goals, and the goals help guide what we are doing,” Graves said. “I want the kids to challenge each other and I ask that the kids challenge themselves so that they can be better.”