BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Over the past two decades, Lake Orion has more often than not been one of the more competitive ski programs in Southeastern Michigan.
The Dragons have multiple state-qualifying teams on their resume and hope to be a team in the mix as the championship season commences in mid-February.
Lake Orion’s girls stand 5-1 overall in the Pine Knob Division of the four-division Southeastern Michigan Ski League and is looking to qualify for both the SEMSL meet and Division 1 state finals in the upcoming weeks.
“We’re having a good season so far. I think we’re one of the better teams in our division of SEMSL,” said coach Derek Delzer. “We’ve only lost to (Pontiac) Notre Dame Prep and they’re very good. I know that Bloomfield Hills, (Rochester) Adams, (Bloomfield Hills) Cranbrook-Kingswood are all tough. But I think we have the talent to qualify for SEMSL and the state meet if we ski well at the right time.”
With the Pine Knob Divisional, Division 1 regional, SEMSL and Division 1 state finals all taking place in February, there’s plenty of room for optimism for the Dragons, who returned a bulk of their talent from a team that finished third at the regional and eighth at state last year.
Juniors Grace Stetsko and Lindsey Thalen, seniors Emily Hewitt, Kirsten Busam and Nora Teagan, and sophomore Audrey Dobbs are all back this season and have been the Dragons’ most consistent performers. Lake Orion finished 10th with 272 points at the prestigious Traverse City Invitational on Jan. 30 — a meet that featured many of the top Division 1 and Division 2 programs in the state.
Lake Orion’s boys are slightly younger than the leaders at Pine Knob, but far from a pushover. In fact, the Dragons could be considered a dark horse if another quality team falters down the stretch.
Lake Orion’s boys collected 286 points at the Traverse City Invite, good for 10th place at the depth-laden meet.
The Dragons are currently 3-3 in duals at Pine Knob but are not out of the picture. A top-three finish at the Pine Knob Divisional will land them at the SEMSL meet, while a top-three finish at the Mt. Holly regional will send them to the D-1 state finals at the end of the month.
Senior Andre Brown and juniors Jack Marcus, Drew Tyrrell, Noah Kelly, Ryan Spencer, Dan Gadowski and Sam Gadowski have led Lake Orion’s boys this season.
“Our boys are a little younger, but we’re still competitive. We’re getting better,” said Delzer. “I wouldn’t count us out. Sure, there are a lot of good teams in our (division) and a lot of good teams in our regional, but if we can put it together at the end of the season, anything is possible.”