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Nordic skiing: Area skiers handle Pepsi Challenge

A trio of Northlanders enjoyed top-two finishes at the Pepsi Challenge races Saturday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. Zach Varty of Elk River, Minn., was the top finisher in the 50K freestyle, posting a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 36 seconds. Adam S...

A trio of Northlanders enjoyed top-two finishes at the Pepsi Challenge races Saturday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

Zach Varty of Elk River, Minn., was the top finisher in the 50K freestyle, posting a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, 36 seconds. Adam Swank of Duluth finished second less than a minute behind. Marit Sonneysn of Minneapolis was the top finisher in the women's division, completing the course in 2:33:18, while Elaine Nelson of Duluth took second in 2:36.04.

In the Giants Ridge 8K freestyle, Mark Scheller of Champlin, Minn., was the top finisher in 23:35, while 14-year-old Jasper Johnston of Ely was next in 24:54. Emma Greenlee of Aurora was the top women's finisher in 24:14.

David Nelson of Medicine Lake, Minn., won the 50K classic, finishing in 2:56.38. The top local finisher was Duluth's Sean Daly, 13th in 3:30:33. Kristen Peterson of Ely was second in the women's division, finishing in 3:46:55.

Andrew Shakel of Lake Elmo, Minn., won the 25K freestyle in 1:12:14. Kellen Witschen of Aurora took sixth, while Anikken Alnaes of Marquette, Mich., won the women's race in 1:13:56. Megan Bettendorf of Duluth was fourth in 1:25:27.

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Seventeen-year-old Mark Ousdigian of Shoreview, Minn., won the 25K classic in 1:19:36, while Ben Gustafson of Ely, also 17 years old, was fifth. Xena Huff of Minneapolis was the top women's finisher in 1:42.49, while Abigail Scheller of Ashland took fifth.

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