Julia Waal drove home with her Hingham girls’ alpine ski teammates a year ago as a champion in the giant slalom to go along with the program’s second straight team title in the state championships held at Wachusett Mountain.
This year, the Hingham senior might just be poised for the clean sweep.
With almost the entire girls’ team back from last year’s state champion, and Waal confident she is skiing as well in both the giant slalom and slalom as she ever has, she said there is plenty of confidence as Hingham heads to this year’s states at Berkshire East in Charlemont on March 4.
“This has been my best season so far,” said Waal, who won all but one regular season race in Ski League East competition. “I have been training with the high school and with my Mount Washington Valley team. My giant slalom skiing has been very strong and I have been working a lot on the slalom this past week to get better at that.”
Waal won last year’s giant slalom in 59.3 seconds and was third in the slalom in 35.16 seconds.
“She is self-disciplined and dedicated to ski racing,” Hingham coach Audrie Knight said. “She works out hard, and consistently, in the offseason as well as during the season, keeping herself in tiptop shape to withstand the rigors of ski racing. Her insight to inspect the course with detail before each race, and then visualize it, allows her the capability to attack from start to finish.”
Hingham will bring five girls to states including Waal, senior captain Libby MacPherson, junior Kate Rogers, Julia’s sister, junior Jaycee Waal, and junior Audrey Cole. Rogers was ninth in the giant slalom at Wachusett last year. The top three skiers from each school count toward the team results.
“We came back from last year all dialed into the skiing season and all looking to get on the snow as much as possible,” Julia Waal said. “We have a lot of depth. We are bringing five strong skiers so we don’t have to rely on just three of us.”
Hingham’s top competition on March 4 could become Marblehead – last year’s runner-up. The Magicians dominated the Mass. Bay Ski League West this winter and will also bring five skiers to states in senior Courtney Pingree, junior Samantha McKay, freshman Cate Honos, junior Mae Colwell, and junior Maisie Moore.
“They are hungry,” Marblehead coach John Thompson said. “Both the boys’ and the girls’ team are to win titles together.”
Marblehead is the last team other than Hingham to win the girls title in 2017. The Magicians are the three-time defending champion boys’ program, but graduated six seniors from last year’s powerhouse. Marblehead finished third in the Mass. Bay Ski League East behind league champion Wellesley this winter, but Thompson said the Magicians can be in the mix if three of the four boys going to states — freshman Baxter Jennings, sophomore Charlie Pingree, and Thompson’s twin sons, juniors Matthew and Chris Thompson — are on that day.
“There will be ton of competition at states,” the coach said. “It’s been a rebuilding year for the boys so I can’t tell you we’re going to win again. But if we compete well then we’ve got a good shot.”
Senior captain and league champion Owen Murray will lead a three-skier contingent from Hingham to Berkshire East, where Wellesley and Xaverian should also be Eastern Mass. teams in the mix. Cohasset could threaten Hingham and Marblehead for top girls’ honors.
Westwood’s Haley Kutzer was the Mass. Bay Ski League East individual girls’ champion this winter, with Marblehead’s Pingree second, Lexington/Waltham’s Karen Oh third, amd Marblehead’s Honos fourth and McKay fifth. Xaverian’s Lars Forsgren was the boys’ champion with Marblehead’s Jennings second, Xaverian’s Cam Tullie third, Wellesley’s Sawyer Busny fourth, and Marblehead’s Charlie Pingree fifth.
In Ski League East, Julia Waal, MacPherson, Rogers, and Jaycee Waal swept the top four girls’ spots, followed by Cohasset’s Lord sisters, Gracyn and Peyton, and Molly Naples. BC High had the next three spots in the boys’ standings behind Murray with Samuel Wolf second, Brandon Thomas third, and Tom Rogers fourth, with Natick’s Josh Libby fifth.
In Mass. Bay Ski League West, Bedford’s Maggie Carluccio was first in the Omega Division with Nashoba’s Ella Varnerin second, Katie Bateman third, and Taylor Riley fourth, and Concord-Carlisle’s Sarah Creamer fifth. Lunenburg’s Travis Reardon finished atop the boys’ standings with Nashoba’s Parker O’Sullivan second, Weston’s James Davis third, Nashoba’s Declan Varnerin fourth, and Winchester’s Jack Preston fifth.
“Team success is a combination of talent, team collaboration, and coaching,” said Knight, who is in her eighth year with the Hingham program and third as head boys’ and girls’ coach. “There are ebbs and flows to this. Over the past four years, we have been blessed in Hingham to have many talented ski racers.”Scott Souza can be reached at [email protected].