Iola Winter Sports Club triumphs at State cross-country ski meet

By Jake Barnes

Led by Seniors Charlie Vater, Cole and Ian Anderson, Max Voss, Cayden Wright, Josie Kwasny, and Ella Miller, and Juniors Greta Dickman and Margaret Friese, the boys and girls from the Iola Winter Sports Club (IWSC) combined to put five skiers in the top 10 and bested teams from across the state at the fabled Birkie trailhead near Cable, Wisconsin, March 2 and 3.

Plagued by a low-snow winter, a delayed state meet, and illness, the team held things together, practiced hard until the very end, and performed admirably in slushy, wet artificial snow conditions on a course where the prior weekend the American Birkebeiner was held.

This was the first time in the 30-year history of the Iola Winter Sports Club that both the boys and the girls finished first in the overall standings. Started by Iola resident Jerry Thompson in the mid 1990s, the race and recreational teams consisted of almost 70 area high school and middle school athletes this past season. School districts represented include Amherst, Stevens Point, Iola-Scandinavia, Waupaca, and Wisconsin Rapids.

Coach Todd Williams said, “It was an incredible season full of ups and downs, but mostly ups! Our Seniors carried us and worked extremely hard into March.”

Currently, the club boasts six skiers who are participating in USSA Junior Nationals in Lake Placid, New York. They include Charlie Vater, Cole and Ian Anderson, Josie Kwasny, and Greta and Ivy Dickman.

A special shout out goes to the staff at Portage County Parks as the team practiced at Standing Rocks County Park a good part of the season due to a modest artificial snow loop made by the county.


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