PHOTOS: Amherst Regional Nordic ski team competes in final meet of the season

  • Amherst’s Owen Candito (636), left, and Taylor Hanson (686) compete against Mohawk Trail’s West Williams (410) during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Katarzyna Wisnauckas, who attends Hampshire Regional, competes against Amherst during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s West Williams (410), center, competes against Amherst’s Owen Candito (636), right, and Taylor Hanson (686) during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Ryan Yanko, front, and Taylor Hanson (686) compete against Mohawk Trail’s West Williams (410) and Vincent Gauthier (30) during their Nordic ski race Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Kala Garrido (50), right, and Sylvie Mahon-Moore (160) compete against Amherst’s Zoey Candito (416) during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail and Amherst girls compete in the final race during their Nordic ski meet on Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Vincent Gauthier (30) races to a fourth place finish against Amherst during their Nordic ski race Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Ellie Meunier (310) competes against Amherst’s Grace Wilkinson (546) during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Katarzyna Wisnauckas competes against Amherst during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Sylvie Mahon-Moore (160), front, races to a second place finish followed by Ellie Meunier (310) in third and Kala Garrido (50) in fourth during their Nordic ski meet against Amherst on Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Katarzyna Wisnauckas sprints down the home stretch for a first place finish against Amherst during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Sylvie Mahon-Moore (160) competes against Amherst’during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Ryan Yanko crosses the line for a first place finish against Mohawk Trail during their Nordic ski race Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Ryan Yanko leads the pack ahead of Mohawk Trail’s Vincent Gauthier (30) during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Ryan Yanko heads into the final stretch followed by Sam Woodruff, Mohawk Trail’s Dennis Simmons and Amherst’s Max Rogowski during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Max Rogowski (736), front, sprints home to a second place finish ahead of Taylor Hanson (686) in third and Mohawk Trail’s Vincent Gauthier (30) in fourth during their Nordic ski race Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail and Amherst boys kick off at the start during their Nordic ski race Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. From left are Amherst’s Ryan Yanko, Mohawk Trail’s Dennis Simmons, Amherst’s Max Rogowski and Sam Woodruff. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Sophia Pope, front, and Bevin Montgomery-Gehrt compete against Mohawk Trail during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. Parker placed fifth in the final race. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Sam Woodruff competes against Mohawk Trail during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst’s Maddie Parker competes against Mohawk Trail during their Nordic ski meet Saturday morning at Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland. Parker placed fifth in the final race. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/28/2021 6:34:43 PM

BUCKLAND — Folks around Western Mass. might not have been pleased to see more snow falling Saturday morning, but for the Mohawk Trail and Amherst Nordic ski teams, it meant crisp conditions for the final meet of the season.

Racing behind Mohawk Trail Regional High School, the two teams competed in a shorter, half-mile course meant to create a speed race. Each athlete raced once in the opening round, split into groups of six, with the top three in each group moving on to the next round.

Mohawk Trail’s Katarzyna Wisnauckas, who attends Hampshire Regional, was the winner between the two teams on the girls side in the finals. Wisnauckas said she enjoyed the fact she was able to let loose with this structure of a race.

“It feels good,” Wisnauckas said. “For it to all come to this at the end of the season is really nice. We’ve all worked really hard and to have a last race as a sprint, you feel more strong because you’re not only able to embrace going faster, you’re able to embrace how strong you are. So it’s nice to end on a sprint.”

Though she prefers longer races, she was able to find success in the faster-paced format. With just the two schools competing this winter, the teams chose to change up the race format each time, finding creative ways to keep each meet feeling fresh.

Wisnauckas’ goal was to start fast on the downhill — which opens the race — stay out in front during the quarter mile flat ski and build momentum before the final uphill ski, which though short is still steep and challenging.

“When we had a long, skate race, you have to measure yourself out,” Wisnauckas said. “In sprint, you need to know when to get ahead and pass the person in front of you. It’s a lot different. I felt good going into the hill, I was going as fast as I could. Then the straightaway, I put it into full gear.”

Mohawk Trail’s Sylvie Mahon-Moore took second on the girls side, though like Wisnauckas, she prefers the longer races.

“It’s very different,” Mahon-Moore, who also attends Hampshire Regional, said. “I usually like longer distance but it’s always exciting to try a new, faster race. I was surprised to get second but it felt good and was cool to accomplish.”

Mahon-Moore said her preference for the longer races comes as she can pace herself better and conserve energy for the finish.

This late in the season, she said she’s learned how to adapt to the different courses.

“Our coach said to just go for it, but I like to go slow in the beginning,” Mahon-Moore said. “Then I push it on the corner and go all out on the straightaway.”

Warrior Eleanor Meunier took third on the girls side, with teammate Kala Garrido the fourth to cross the finish line. Amherst’s Maddie Parker took fifth.

Amherst had a strong showing in the boys race, with four racers competing in the six-person final.

Hurricane Ryan Yanko took first place overall in the finals, a stellar result for someone who just picked the sport up last year.

“It feels really good to win,” Yanko said. “I had never really skied, last year was my first year and I fell in love with the sport. I’m mostly a runner but it’s really fun and I love the team.”

Yanko made sure to go all out after the downhill start to the race, keeping his speed all the way to the finish as he cruised to a first place victory.

“It’s the first sprint race I’ve done,” Yanko said. “I just went all out. It’s the name of the race and especially where you have a downhill to start. I was going really fast to get away from the pack and stayed fast all the way to the end.”

Amherst’s Max Rogowski was the second skier to cross the finish line, coming in a few strides after Yanko.

Throughout the race, Rogowski was near the back of the pack and didn’t think he had much of a chance. A slip on the icy snow gave him an opportunity to get back to the front of the pack and once there, he was able to take advantage of the corners and hill to place second.

“I was surprised,” Rogowski said. “I was expecting to get last, most of the race I was in last. Some people fell and I was able to pass someone on a turn. Right away, I just went all out. The corners I try to pass people. Hills and corners are where I really work hard to pass people. At the end, I put everything I had left into it.” 

Hurricane Taylor Hanson took third place in the final race, followed by a pair of Mohawk Trail skiers; Vincent Gauthier in fourth and West Williams in fifth. Sam Woodruff of Amherst was the sixth skier to cross in the finals.




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