LAKE ELMO, Minn. – It was a day of firsts at the Green Acres SuperTour stop, as an impressive display of depth lifted Michigan Tech to both the women’s and overall titles. The Huskies landed the top five spots in the women’s 15K freestyle event, including a career-first college win for Deedra Irwin.
On the men’s side, Saint Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker captured not only his first CCSA top spot, but also the first college win in the history of the Saints’ program. Hecker’s result in the 20K skate, coupled with teammate’s Paul Schommer’s second college podium finish in as many days, gave Saint Scholastica the program’s first ever team title as well, edging Michigan Tech by one point, 56-55, for the men’s crown.
“It’s a pretty historic moment for us,” Saint Scholastica head coach Chad Salmela said afterwards. “You work hard in training, try to recruit good skiers, and when it all comes together like it did today, it feels pretty good.”
A colder than expected Saturday evening had coaches reconsidering the wax selections prior to the start.
“We thought it was going to be easy, that we get to sleep in a little bit this morning,” Salmela joked. “I wouldn’t say it was a panic wax, but all the teams were scrambling a little bit. We had to rewax from the bottom up.”
Whatever decisions Michigan Tech head coach Joe Haggenmiller and his team made, however, seemed to work like a charm, as a flood of Huskies women dominated the CCSA leaderboard. Following up her second place finish in the classic race yesterday, Irwin would not be denied on Sunday, completing her 15K skate in 43:52.7 – good enough for 11th overall and just three seconds off the top ten.
Teammate Alice Flanders soon followed, taking second in the conference and 12th overall in 43:54.0. Lynn Duijndam rounded out the CCSA podium by taking 13th overall, followed by a fourth Husky – Rachel Mason – in 15th with a time of 44:21.6.
Saturday’s classic winner, Malin Eriksson, was next across the line in 44:25.1, to take 16th overall, before St. Olaf skier Paige Schember became the first non-Michigan Tech woman to cross the line for the CCSA, taking 17th overall in 44:52.3.
Two more Huskies soon followed, however, as Christina Mishica captured 18th place overall and seventh collegiately in 45:12.6, and Sarah Daniels grabbed 19th place in 45:22.6.
Saint Scholastica’s Brooke Adams (21st overall) and Michigan Tech’s Marissa Yovetich (22nd overall) rounded out the college top ten.
On the men’s side, Hecker prevailed in his day-long battle with Michigan Tech’s Mikko Harju to claim a historic win for the Saints’ program, finishing in 12th-place overall in 52:25.7. Harju, forced to settle for second on Sunday (13th overall) in 52:32.2, still enjoyed a solid weekend as a whole, as he topped the CCSA’s podium in Saturday’s classic event.
Saint Scholastica freshman Schommer earned his second collegiate podium spot with a 15th-place overall finish in 52:38.5.
“I think we saw yesterday that the guys had a shot to do what they did today,” Salmela said, “and we are all super happy that we did. Jeremy and Paul now both have a shot at qualifying for NCAA’s with two weekends to go, so that’s where you want to be.”
In fourth place collegiately was Michigan Tech’s Matt Dugan, crossing the line in 52:46.2 to take 18th overall. A pair of teammates soon followed, as Jesse Smith took 21st overall in 53:10.5 and Matt Wong 22nd in 54:15.4.
Saint Scholastica’s third scoring skier, Scott Johanik, grabbed the conference’s seventh-place spot, and 23rd overall, with his 54:21.3 race, edging out Michigan Tech’s Jay Woodbeck in 24th overall by less than a second.
Two more Michigan Tech skiers, Andrew Keller in 26th overall and Luke Gesior in 28th overall, rounded out the top ten, giving the Huskies seven of the top ten skiers on the men’s side.
After a grueling month of competition, the CCSA skiers now get a well-deserved weekend off from NCAA qualifiers before heading to Houghton, Mich. for the CCSA Championships on Feb. 11-12.