Murray is golden at state Alpine ski meet

Bloomington Jefferson senior Michael Murray saved two of his season’s finest efforts for the final competitive runs of his high school Alpine ski career.
Murray took the lead after his first run with a time of 36.99 seconds and capped off a gold-medal winning performance with a time of 36.4 seconds on his second run during the state Alpine meet Feb. 13 at Giant Ridge in Biwabik.
Murray’s first-place combined time was 1 minute, 13.67 seconds. Blake’s Jack McNeill, a Bloomington resident, placed second (1:14.26) and Eden Prairie’s Jack Post, last year’s champion, finished third (1:14.87).
“I have been to state five times and that first run was one of my best,” said Murray. “My plan was to ski a little lighter on the soft snow  and glide through it smoothly.
“I knew I had the lead after the first run, but I also knew they would be coming after me when we switched to the second course on the next run. It was a relief when I finished that last run and won a championship I’ve always dreamed about.”
Murray’s previous best state finish was fifth. achieved last year.
Nobody was happier about Murray’s gold-medal performance than Jefferson head coach James MacMahon.
“Michael has been working hard all season and deserves to win that state title,” said the Jaguar coach. “All that work culminated in a state championship and that title performance was no fluke.”
Murray plans to keep skiing in college.
“I might attend Montana State and ski for them next season,” said the Jefferson ski standout. “Or I will attend either Minnesota or University of Minnesota-Duluth and participate in ski club competition.”
There will be another Murray skier competing for Jefferson next season. Ryan Murray, a ninth-grader, was one of the highest scorers for Jefferson’s varsity team this season. Ryan Murray qualified for state but missed a gate on both of his runs.
“Ryan has a good future in skiing,” said older brother Michael. “He has a lot of dedication to the sport.
“Ryan had a little bit of bad luck at state but has chances to get back there in the next few years.”
McNeill and his Blake teammates won the state boys team title with 159 points. Stillwater was second (139) and Orono placed third (137). Eden Prairie was fourth (136.5).
Girls compete at state
Jefferson’s girls ski team qualified for state but ran into difficulty at Giants Ridge. The Jaguars finished eighth with 71 points.
Minnetonka won the state girls team championship with 172 points. Blake placed second (155.5) and Minneapolis Southwest was third (145) in the eight-team field.
“A couple of our top skiers ran into trouble competing at state,” said coach MacMahon. “But all of our girls skiers had great seasons and they are to be congratulated for winning the Section 6 championship.”
Jefferson’s Morgan Gasser placed 51st with a combined two-run time of 1:30.66 at state. Kaari Garnett finished 58th (1:32.75) and Danielle Blais placed 68th (1:42.43). McKenna Hanson came in 70th (1:42.52). Also competing for the Jaguars were Isabelle Iwen and Annalise Iwen.