Chippewas, Portagers hit slopes at Caberfae for spots in D2 state finals

Manistee senior Annie DeVoe and the Chippewas will ski in a Division 2 regional meet today at Caberfae Peaks. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

For each of the last three years, the Manistee girls have owned their regional.

“We’re hoping this year will be no different,” said senior Andrea Paine.

The Chippewa girls will ski for a fourth straight Division 2 regional title today at Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac while the boys will shoot for back-to-back crowns and a fourth in five years. The top three teams in the 12-team regional advance to the state finals at Boyne Highlands on Feb. 27.

“I think both teams have an excellent chance of doing better than the top three,” said Manistee coach Dick Totch, a subtle hint that he likes their chances of winning.

The Chippewas, who co-op with Traverse City St. Francis, are the likely favorite in the regional in both boys and girls. Last year, the Manistee girls edged Glen Lake, but while other teams lost key skiers, the Chippewas returned the core of their lineup, including senior Nathalie Kenny, who has won back-to-back regional titles in the giant slalom. The Chippewa boys have their top skiers back as well.

“I know our boys will have their work cut out for them to take Cadillac,” Totch said. “Other than that, I think we’ve seen pretty much everybody else this year, other than the couple teams from Grand Rapids.”

Onekama, which co-ops with Bear Lake and Brethren, will also be in the mix tomorrow and faces a tough task finishing in the top three. The Portagers will be one deeper on the boys side with freshman Madeleine Smeltzer, their lone girl, joining her male counterparts for the regional.

“We’ve got a lot of strong competition,” said Onekama coach Curt Mathieu. “Going against Cadillac and Manistee and Mount Pleasant … we’ve got a tall order.”

Mathieu is hopeful, though, that a couple of his skiers will qualify for the state finals as individuals. The top 10 individuals, or the first four individual finishers not part of a qualifying team, move on from the regional.

“We may have a better chance sending some individuals rather than a team,” Mathieu said. “But, we’re still trying, we’re giving it our all. They sure have been working hard the last few weeks. I’ve really seen a super turnaround in some of them.”

Onekama hasn’t skied at Caberfae this year while it’s been two seasons for the Chippewas.

“Caberfae is a lot flatter, more rolling terrain,” Paine said. “ … It gives us a chance to go out there and focus solely on skiing instead of the terrain.”

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