Waltham-Weston Nordic Ski Team Wins League, Finishes Strong Regular Season
As mentioned in a prior Owl, the Weston Ski Track is the spot where one of the current Olympic athletes trained in high school. It is also the place where our own Weston high school athletes train and race, in a combined team with the Waltham Hawks. I sort of want the team to have a cool nickname like the girls combined (with Wayland) ice hockey team, the WarCats, or even be an abbreviation for a shoe store, like DS-W (the combined Dover-Sherborn-Weston boys ice hockey team). We are taking suggestions here at the Owl. WildHawks? Ice Talons? The winner will be named in next Owl. I digress, and not for the first or last time. Update 2/14: a suggestion has been made for the “Kettle Cats”–a “kettle” is a group of hawks. I like it!
Before I bury the lead into details, the summary of it all is that the Waltham-Weston Nordic Ski boys team was undefeated on its season and are the Mass Bay East league champions. This is an impressive feat considering the team didn’t even exist before 2018.
The combined Waltham-Weston Nordic Ski team is coached by former Olympian (cycling) Nicole Freedman and Chris Daly, with help from assistant coach Max Fernandez. Does anyone recognize the latter name? Yes, indeed, Max is one of the founders of the Weston Nordic Team, a WHS grad (2019) and a current junior at Syracuse University (he just confirmed all this as he touched down in London for a semester abroad, which is cool). Max, Cameron Langenhagen WHS’21 and Zoe Fernandez WHS’21 were all integral in starting Weston’s team in 2018, along with Mike McGrath, Weston’s Athletic Director, who was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions this morning, while not in Heathrow airport.
“I am so grateful to those Weston students that brought attention to the hole in our winter program offering–now filled by Nordic skiing,” said McGrath. “I have no doubt that our Nordic program will follow the tremendous success that our Alpine Ski program has seen (also fairly new having started in 2012).”
Weston’s team has grown over the past years: there were 7 student-athletes in 2018/19, 14 in 2019/20, and 14 in 2020/21. Waltham has also seen increased numbers–this year the team is made up of 13 Weston and 19 Waltham racers. The five team captains are Ella Wozek, Elizabeth Shepard, Lucas Daly (Waltham), and Mackenzie Morong and Holden Langenhagen from Weston.
“Having the Weston Ski Track (Leo J Martin Golf Course) in our backyard is key and definitely contributed to our success in growing the program,” said McGrath.
The season is made up of six races (one each Wednesday) for the Mass Bay East League; the season-ender was February 9th. If you’ve never seen a start to one of these races, check out this video of a league start and hold your breath that no one crashes–yikes!
“Each race we’ve seen a lot of improvement from our JV racers (there are separate races for combined Junior Varsity, Boys Varsity, and Girls Varsity) as well as our more experienced varsity racers from both boys and girls,” said Co-Captain Holden Langenhagen. “The races can usually range from 4km to 7km, depending on the snow conditions, lasting anywhere from roughly 10 to 20 minutes.”
Boys Varsity won the league overall based on placements during the six races throughout the season, and Girls Varsity has done quite well with sometimes (especially in the later races) two girls in the top 10. Lucas Daly is currently leading the boys in Waltham-Weston with consistent first or second placings in the league, and Ella Wozek is currently leading the girls on the team with many top four placements. You can see most of these results on the Weston Ski Track page.
The next race is the MIAA Nordic Ski Tournament race on February 16th at Prospect Mountain, Vermont. The Ice Talons (well, why not?) will send eight of the top girl athletes and eight of the top boy athletes to compete in that race. Ella Wozek and Lucas Daly also qualified for the Massachusetts EHS team which is to compete regionally in March. Owen Manchek, Milo Fernandez, Julia Gray, and Natalie Joe all qualified for the Massachusetts U16 team which will also compete regionally in March.
As noted by many a cross-country/Nordic skier, a really good time can be had by elementary/middle school aged kids in the Eastern Mass Cross Country organization (once called EMBK) which has classes, races and general fun also at the Weston Ski Track. From their website, “EMXC Youth introduces young skiers to the joys of cross-country (XC) skiing through their program of coaching with a low skier-coach ratio and instruction methods developed for young skiers. The club has both racing and non-racing components. Cross-country skiing is a low-impact sport and is great cross-training for runners, soccer players, and other young athletes! No prior XC skiing experience is necessary.” You can find out more at http://easternmassnordic.org/.
Congratulations on a great regular season, Waltham-Weston WildHawks (not as catchy, right?).
Note: The Owl is grateful for the information provided by Holden Langenhagen, WHS ’23, co-captain of the combined Waltham-Weston team, Max Fernandez WHS ’19 and assistant coach, as well as Mike McGrath, WPS Athletic Director. Photos and video provided by Rodd Langenhagen–if anyone has a team photo, I would be happy to post that too!