It’s winter, so of course Max Sargent will tell you that his favorite sport is downhill skiing.
The Rochester Century junior has a different response in the fall. He spent this past autumn being an all-Big Nine Conference soccer player for the Panthers.
“It just all depends on what time of year you ask him (about his No. 1 sports love),” said his father, Nick Sargent. “Right now, for him, ski racing is his best. He’s got a deep love for both.”
Ask Max to name his favorite portion of the ski season, and he’ll go with right now.
Max is just one day away from competing in the Alpine Ski state meet at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, the second straight year that he’s made it.
Accompanying him will be his father. Nick is more than a strong supporter of Max, he’s also his coach. Nick directs all of the Rochester Alpine skiers.
This year, Max is the lone Rochester athlete to have advanced to state.
Max did it with a seventh-place finish in last week’s Section 6 meet at Buck Hill in Burnsville. Nick considers it the stongest section in the state and includes one of the state-tournament’s favorites, Adam Berghult. An Edina sophomore, Burghult is ranked in the top 10 in the country in his age group.
Max was 14th at sections a year ago, with the top 15 qualifying for state. Last week, he was literally twice as good.
It has Max hoping for a top-15 state finish this time, after landing 42nd last year.
“Max was decent (at state) last year, but not great,” Nick said. “But he’s definitely made a big jump in speed this year. So, the expectations are higher this time.”
Max got busier than normal with his skiing this past off-season. That included a trip to Oregon this summer for a ski camp. He was joined there by his club ski team, King Gilboa, which includes his dad as an instructor.
It paid dividends.
“It was an awesome camp,” Max said. “There were a bunch of us (skiing) friends that went.”
There was also plenty of time spent lifting weights by him this past spring and summer, with Max trying to better his soccer and skiing games.
Judging by his results in both, that also worked.
“Max has gotten better at several (ski) things,” Nick said. “Technically, he’s improved, and he’s significantly stronger.”
Max and Nick both believe there's an outside chance that Max could finish in the top 10 at state. But to do that he’s going to have to get away from the conservative approach he took at sections, as well as stay on his skis down the stretch of the race.
The latter is not always what he does best. But Max is willing to take a chance on a fall. He wants to go for broke at state.
“I didn’t want to make any mistakes at sections, because I just wanted to make sure that I qualified (for state),” Max said. “I skied very conservatively. But I'm going to change that up at state. There are some things that I can do that will allow me to go a lot faster. I think I can compete with most — if not all — of the guys who’ll be there.”