January 11, 2012 - This will be a season of transition for the Oxford/Holly ski team.
First Row L-R: Dillon Sink, Jessie Felix, Zac Felix, Jeff Frary, Lars Joergens-Kokate, Rachel Harrington, Abby Wrobe, Spencer McKay, Aaron Johnston, Alyssa Wysocki and Adam Cole (Injured for season). Second Row L-R: Dalton Sink, Spencer Christen, Kirsten Zielinski, Alex Schultz, Sammi Kurk, Greg Schultz, Iida Mantyla and Tyler Kwapis. Photo courtesy of Johnston Photography. (click for larger version)
David Stanley, who coached the ski team for past three seasons, retired. Assistant coach Phil Nimmo stepped in and is ready to take the team to new heights in his first season.
Stanley will be staying on as a volunteer assistant for Nimmo.
Nimmo, a junior at Kettering University, graduated from Fenton High School in 2009, where he was an all-state skier.
He is also a ski instructor at Mt. Holly and coached the Thunderbolts, Oxford/Holly's middle school program.
"I think we are going to do well," Nimmo said. "We actually went up in numbers, to 19 this year, and most of the freshmen we got already ski race, which is pretty rare to have for ski teams around here."
Nimmo pointed out 11 of the 19 kids come from Oxford, with a majority of the Wildcats being underclassmen.
The ski racers from Oxford include senior Alex Schultz, juniors Samantha Kurk, Abigail Wrobel, Alyssa Wysocki, Kristen Zielinski, sophomores Spencer Christen, Aaron Johnston, Iida Mantyla and Greg Schultz and freshmen Lars Joergens-Kokate and Tyler Kwapis.
Holly's portion of the squad brings the senior leadership, as they have five seniors in their eight spots.
Alex Schultz returns as the team's only state qualifier from last season.
"He should help lead the team and do well," Nimmo said. "Last year, he was our team's MVP (most valuable player) and obviously the kids look up to him. From a skiing standpoint, he is consistently a top finisher in the division; (it) is good to have somebody that can ski well consistently."
"You will have the guys that will lay down one really good run one day, and the next race and five other races, he will face," Nimmo added. "Alex is always really consistent at the top and I can count on him for a good finish."
On the boys side, Nimmo is excited to see his two freshmen hit the slopes. He added the fact his two freshmen bring ski-race experience onto the squad was "huge."
"Lars (Joergens-Kokate), in particular. In the time trial yesterday (Thursday), I think he scored third on the team. He is coming in as one of our top ski racers, so that is going to be huge, especially since he is going to be there for four more years," Nimmo said.
He added it was the same with Kwapis.
"When I split the varsity and JV, he is on the cusp of being one of the top guys," Nimmo said.
"With high school ski racing compared to what they have done so far, you are doing a lot more actual racing instead of once a week; you are doing it four days a week for twice as long, so they have lots of time to develop and be future leaders.
While most of the boys are underclassmen, the girls are primarily in their junior or senior season. "Wrobel and Wysocki are coming back. They are juniors and both started racing when they started high school, and they are developing (as) ski racers and are ones you can always count on for a good consistent finish," Nimmo.
He was also looking forward to seeing what Mantyla, an exchange student from Finland, could bring to the team.
"She is new to racing, but is a strong skier and a good asset to have," he said.
According to Nimmo, the Mt. Holly Division will be really strong again this season.
Oxford/Holly will compete against Grand Blanc, Fenton, Flint Powers Catholic and Flushing. "There is going to be a lot of competition. In the past, Grand Blanc has been one of the powerhouses and dominated the division. This year, it is kind of wide open on the guys side. It can go really any way," Nimmo said.
"(On) the girls side, the Fenton girls are pretty dominant. After that, it is anybody's race still," he added.
"This is probably the most parity I have seen in the division in a while," he said. "There is going to be a lot of good racing."
The team opens against Flushing Jan. 11-12.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.