Emily Gerencer still attends St. Dominic Academy in Auburn, but instead of competing for Maranacook in Nordic skiing, this winter the senior will be competing for a different school: Leavitt Area High School.
Joined by fellow St. Dom’s student Mark D’Alessandro, in his first year of Nordic competition, the two decided that Leavitt, a ten-minute-shorter drive among other reasons, was the best move for them to ski this season.
Gerencer has been going to a summer Nordic ski camp in which Leavitt head coach Dustin Williamson is a coach since 2015, missing just one summer. The familiarity with Williamson and some of Leavitt’s skiers from the camp was also another component that made the switch easy.
“I spent some time over the summer with practices with the kids and they were at the camp as well, and the team was super awesome and I am glad I get to spend my season with them,” Gerencer said.
At the camp, Gerencer and the skiers practice with roller skis, strength and technique training, among other things to help bridge the gap between winters.
“It is a lot of roller skiing, technique tied into it, bounding exercises, strength (in the) afternoon, also meetings every night where you talk about health, how to fuel your body going through the rest of the summer and prepare the season,” Gerencer said.
Skiing is Gerencer’s favorite of the three sports she competes in, and for good reason. While she runs cross country in the fall and competes in distance events in outdoor track in the spring, Gerencer shines in the winter.
In 2017, Gerencer finished in third place in the freestyle and fourth in the classical races at the Class B state championship. Last season, Gerencer finished in 11th in freestyle while skiing just five seconds slower than her previous time at states, and 10th in the classical race despite shaving an entire minute off her states time.
Under her new coach, Gerencer should pick up right where she left off. After the team’s first practice on Monday, Williamson believes his new skier will fit in just fine.
“I think she’s going to fit in very well, this team is a very welcoming team,” Williamson said. “They really do welcome anybody in no matter where they’re from, what their experience is, no matter who they are. I think she’s going to fit in just fine and be part of this team 100 percent. It’s pretty much like welcoming a new family member.”
Leavitt returns five skiers from the top-29 of last year’s Class A pursuit finals. With Gerencer finishing 10th in the Class B pursuit, the Hornets add more firepower to an already-strong team. While Gerencer will only be in a “non-scoring role” according to St. Dom’s athletic director John Yorkey, the Hornets will add yet another top performer to elevate their skiing.
“We’ve got some good talent on the girls side and so I think she will definitely be up there near the top. I don’t know if she will be at the top, we will have to see,” Williamson said. “She’s a very talented skier. From what I’ve seen over the past couple of summers, she has a great heart and a great kid and will be very coachable.”
Gerencer and Williamson have spoken about how they want the season to go and goals that want to be accomplished.
“He kind of talked about how training would go, what would be at practice, the best way to achieve what I wanted to and really do my best,” Gerencer said.
Leavitt’s first meet is Dec. 15 at Sugarloaf. For Gerencer, it will be a great place to see where she’s at to begin her final high school ski season.
“I want to just get out and basically just see where I am this year,” Gerencer said. “I think that’s going to be a very big indicator of where I am.”
There are no hard feelings left with Gerencer as she leaves the Maranacook team, but she’s excited to get the season off and running with the Hornets.
“I’m super grateful with the years I had at Maranacook,” Gerencer said. “It’s my senior year and I want to have a ton of fun and see what I can do (with Leavitt) and end the year with a bang if I can.”