The CCSA skiers begin their national championship adventure in earnest tomorrow, as they line up against the nation’s top collegiate skiers at the NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vt. Of the thirteen skiers, representing three schools (Northern Michigan, Alaska and St. Scholastica), eight will be making their first appearance at nationals.
The event kicks off bright and early Thursday morning with a 10K men’s interval start classic race, beginning at 10 a.m. EST, followed by a 5K classic ski for women at noon. The distances, and the chaos level, only increase on Saturday, with a 15K mass start women’s freestyle event scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by a mass start 20K skate for men at noon.
For those unable to make the trip to Vermont, all events at this year’s NCAA Championships will be streamed online at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.
“Making it to NCAAs is certainly never anything that we take for granted,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said. “It’s always a big accomplishment, and I think every athlete is very grateful to have the opportunity to race on this big stage. It’s very satisfying.”
In addition to individual championships and coveted All-American postions – the top five skiers all gain first-team All-American status, while the rest of the top 10 finishers collect second-team honors – there’s plenty more at stake when the CCSA skiers toe the line this week. Each year, the NCAA evaluates each region’s performance at nationals, and adjusts the number of berths for each region accordingly. Do well at NCAA, and your region will be able to send more skiers to next year’s championships. Each skier, therefore, has the opportunity to benefit not only themselves, but the entire region with a good performance.
Despite that added pressure, CCSA coaches, such as St. Scholastica’s Chad Samela, focus on keeping their athletes grounded.
“We are here to win, and to go about our business but, at the same time, I want our athletes to be able to relax,” Salmela said. “I think when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves, but also focused, that’s when they ski their best.”
Having arrived at the Rikert Nordic Center last week, the CCSA skiers have had a chance to get a number of practice runs in on what looks to be a fair but challenging course.
“There’s a really good mix on this course,” Salmela said. “There are some very challenging downhills with some tight turns – you are going to have to get into a nice rhythm to get through it. It’s a great course – it’s hard enough to be an NCAA championship race, but easy enough that it’s still enough about ski racing.”
This year’s NCAA Championships has added sentiment for Salmela – hosts Middlebury College is his alma mater.
In addition to the live broadcast at the NCAA website, fans of CCSA skiing can also follow live results at http://www.barttiming.com/eisa/Results13/ncaa13.htm.
The College of St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer and Alaska’s Rebecca Konieczny have been named the CCSA skiers of the week, the conference office announced Wednesday. The duo received the awards for their displays of selflessness and character at the NCAA Central Region Championships this past weekend, as both Schommer and Konieczny overcame personal setbacks to help their teams achieve something special.
After a breakthrough freshman year in 2012, it’s safe to say Schommer’s season hasn’t quite gone as planned this time by. Sidelined for much of the CCSA season due to illness and competing in just four conference events, Schommer was unable to get back up to speed in time to qualify for his second NCAA Championships. Despite his disappointment, however, Schommer stepped up when his team needed him most, delivering his best race of the season by landing a seventh-place finish in the 20K mass start freestyle on Sunday. His performance helped boost St. Scholastica to third place in the overall team standings – the school’s first ever podium finish at regionals.
Konieczny, meanwhile, entered the weekend on the bubble for one of the region’s six NCAA berths. Just outside the top six, the Montana native would need two solid races in order to qualify for nationals. Unfortunately, hectic weather conditions on Saturday led to waxing difficulties and slow skis for Konieczny in the classic race, essentially bumping her out of contention. The senior shook off her personal disappointment, however, and raced solely for her team on Sunday, bouncing back to land a sixth-place finish in the skate event. Finishing the race as the Nanooks’ third scoring skier, Konieczny’s points proved vital – Alaska held on to capture the women’s regional crown by just four points over rivals Northern Michigan.
Northern Michigan and Alaska skiers decorated the all-CCSA teams, as seven Wildcats and Nanooks collected conference awards. NMU led the way with seven first-team awards, the most of any school, while St. Scholastica earned two-first team honors as well.
On the men’s side, Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman, George Cartwright and Chris Bowler; St. Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker and Alaska’s Michael Fehrenbach all picked up all-CCSA first-team spots, while Michigan Tech’s Luke Gesior and a quartet of Nanooks (Lex Treinen, Jonas Loffler, Tyler Kornfield and Max Olex) made up the conference’s second team.
For the women, St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed and Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski, Jordyn Ross, Mary Kate Cirelli and Hannah Boyer earned all-CCSA first team honors, while second-team all conference awards went to Alaska’s Aly McPhetres and Crystal Pitney; Michigan Tech Lynn Duijndam and Sarah Daniels; and Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha.
Men’s all-CCSA first team
Erik Soderman, NMU
George Cartwright, NMU
Jeremy Hecker, St. Scholastica
Chris Bowler, NMU
Michael Fehrehbach, Alaska
Men’s all-CCSA second team
Lex Treinen, Alaska
Jonas Loffler, Alaska
Luke Gesior, Michigan Tech
Tyler Kornfield, Alaska
Max Olex, Alaska
Women’s all-CCSA first team
Rosie Frankowski, NMU
Jordyn Ross, NMU
Sharmila Ahmed, St. Scholastica
Mary Kate Cirelli, NMU
Hannah Boyer, NMU
Women’s all-CCSA second team
Aly McPhetres, Alaska
Kailey Mucha, Green Bay
Sarah Daniels, Michigan Tech
Crystal Pitney, Alaska
Lynn Duijndam, Michigan Tech
For the second straight day, a Northern Michigan man and an Alaska woman earned the conference crown at the CCSA Championships, as the Wildcats’ Erik Soderman again took top spot in the men’s 20K mass start freestyle and the Nanooks’ Aly McPhetres edged NMU’s Rosie Frankowski to win the women’s 15K event at Mt Itasca.
Despite a strong showing in both genders from Alaska, however, it was Northern Michigan’s day, as the Wildcats swept the men’s, women’s and overall team titles for the four-race CCSA Championships.
“Everyone’s really happy to have won,” NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “It was an interesting format this year, having the sprints and the relays involved. I think our team has really been firing on all cylinders this weekend though, and we are happy with how things turned out.”
There was even more déjà vu about Sunday’s men’s race – Soderman and teammate Kyle Bratrud again took the top two spots, just as they did in Saturday’s classic race. According to Fjeldheim, however, it took every ounce of energy his racers had to hold onto the podium spots.
“UAF busted apart the pack right away,” he said. “They really pulled out at a really hard pace – them, our guys and (St. Scholastica’s) Jeremy Hecker put the hammer down from the start. It was great racing and awesome competition.”
While Soderman and Bratrud took the top two spots, Alaska’s Lex Treinen earned the bronze medal position, finishing just four seconds behind Bratrud. The Nanooks’ Michael Fehrenbach would take fourth, slightly behind the lead trio, while Northern Michigan’s third scoring skier, George Cartwright took fifth, wrapping up the men’s title for the Wildcats.
St. Scholastica’s top skier on the day, and one of the CCSA most consistent performers on the year, Hecker just missed out on a ninth-straight top-five finish, as his time of 55:56.9 put him in sixth on the afternoon. A pair of Alaska skiers, Jonas Loffler and Max Olex, placed seventh and eighth, respectively, while NMU’s Chris Bowler and Michigan Tech’s Matt Dugan rounded out the top ten.
On the women’s side, the competition was equally as fast and furious – as McPhetres and Frankowski battled back and forth for most of the afternoon.
“Aly is really an excellent downhill skier – I was impressed with her downhill ability,” Fjeldheim said. “Every time Rosie would try and pull away , [McPhetres] would close that gap on the downhill.”
In the end, McPhetres would seize on a late stumble from Frankowski to earn her first CCSA title. Frankowski, forced to settle for second place, still finished nearly a full minute ahead of the third placed skier: Alaska’s Crystal Pitney, who earned the final podium spot in 49:37.8.
Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross was next across the line, followed by a pair of Nanooks in Heather Edic (fifth) and Rebecca Koneieczny (sixth). NMU’s Mary Kate Cirelli took seventh overall to round out a solid weekend for the freshman, while Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber, Gustavus’ Erica Hett and St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed rounding out the top ten.
With today’s results, Northern Michigan captured the men’s title with 303 points, while St. Scholastica landed its best-ever CCSA Championship finish by taking second with 252 points. Alaska’s rounded out the podium by taking third on 242 points.
On the women’s side, the Wildcats were again on top, albeit by a slightly slimmer margin. NMU’s 292 points earned them the conference crown by 20 points over Alaska’s 272 points. Michigan Tech took the bronze on the women’s side, finishing with 225 points.
Overall, NMU’s 595 total points gave them a comfortable victory over Alaska, who finished second with 514 points. Michigan Tech took third with its 454 points, just beating out St. Scholastica by a single point.
The CCSA skiers now head to their final NCAA qualifiers of the season, as Michigan Tech hosts the Central Region championships on Feb. 23-24.
Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman and Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber each earned their first conference titles on Saturday, cruising to victories in their respective interval start classic races at the CCSA Championships at Mt. Itasca.
Despite Sieber’s victory, however, Northern Michigan, who claimed four of the six podium spots on offer today, remains on top in both the men’s, women’s and overall team standings heading into the final day.
With just four qualifiers remaining in the CCSA season, the tension is beginning to heat up in the race for NCAA berths. Soderman, a national champion in the freestyle event last year, took a major step toward confirming his spot on Saturday, turning in another impressive classic performance to earn the CCSA crown. The sophomore finished his 10K in 26:14.2 – good enough for a five-second margin of victory.
Teammate Kyle Bratrud, who has already pre-qualified for this season’s NCAAs, turned in the second best time on the day, as his time of 26:19.7 bested everyone but Soderman.
Alaska’s top men’s skier on the day, Jonas Loeffler, earned a podium spot (and a crucial 25 points for his team) with his time of 26:24.7. St. Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker, who came into the weekend as the CCSA’s second-ranked skier, did his NCAA chances no harm with a solid fourth-place finish in 26:27.8.
Northern Michigan’s third scoring skier, Chris Bowler, posted the conference’s fifth-best time: his 26:42.0 ensuring the Wildcats’ claimed three of the top six spots on the day. Alaska Michael Fehrenbach placed sixth in the CCSA (seventh overall) to land 22 points for the Nanooks.
Seventh-place in the conference fell to Northern’s George Cartwright, as his time of 26:49.0 put him just above St. Scholastica’s John Wessling, who took eighth in the CCSA and ninth overall. Alaska’s Lex Treinen and Michigan Tech’s Luke Gesior rounded out the conference’s top ten.
On the women’s side, it was Sieber’s day, as she continues to show signs that she is back to her best form. The German native bested the field by a full 13 seconds, tearing through her 5K in just 15:05.1.
Northern Michigan’s Hannah Boyer, who won the classic event at the Saints Invitational last month, continued to demonstrate her prowess in the tracks as well, earning a second-place finish in 15:18.6. Boyer’s time meant teammate Jordyn Ross would have to settle for a third-place finish; the junior earning bronze with a time of 15:19.3.
The Wildcats third-scoring skier, Mary Kate Cirelli, took fourth place in the CCSA (fifth overall) with her time of 15:24.1, finishing just ahead of Saint Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, who took fifth (sixth overall).
Michigan Tech’s top skier, Deedra Irwin, took sixth in the conference with her time of 15:26.7, followed closely by a pair of Alaska racers in Theresia Schnurr (seventh in CCSA) and Rebecca Koneiczny (eighth in CCSA). Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski and Alaska’s Crystal Pitney rounded out the conference’s top ten.
With today’s results, Northern Michigan lead the overall team standings by a comfortable margin – the Wildcats 447 points putting them well ahead of second-placed Alaska’s 369 points. Both St. Scholastica and Michigan Tech finish the day with 348 points, making the shuffling for podium positions interesting going into the CCSA Championships final day tomorrow.
Full men’s and women’s team scores are as follows:
Northern Michigan: 227 points
St. Scholastica: 196 points
Michigan Tech: 174 points
Alaska: 172 points
Green Bay: 124 points
Gustavus Adolphus College: 101 points
St. Olaf College: 77 points
Northern Michigan: 220 points
Alaska: 197 points
Michigan Tech: 174 points
St. Scholastica: 152 points
St. Olaf College: 123 points
Gustavus Adolphus College: 104 points
Green Bay: 99 points
St. Cloud State: 17 points
Alaska’s Marit Rjabov and Northern Michigan’s George Cartwright have been named the Central Collegiate Ski Association’s skiers of the week, the conference office announced Wednesday. It is both student-athletes’ first such award in the 2013 season.
Rjabov turned in a convincing performance to win her second straight CCSA sprint title at the conference championships free technique sprint on Saturday. The Estonia native finished second in both her qualifier and semi-final before cruising to a 40-meter victory in the A final. She also helped Alaska place second in the 3 x 5K relay on Sunday, lifting the Nanooks to second place as a team heading into the final weekend of the CCSA Championships.
Cartwright, meanwhile, cemented his place as one of the conference’s finest sprinters by claiming the CCSA crown in the men’s freestyle sprint. The junior skied a controlled, mature race, conserving his energy in the semi-final and coming from behind to win the A final. Cartwright then helped Northern Michigan to the classic relay title as well, turning in the best lap of his leg as the Wildcats pulled away to a comfortable 25-second victory.
The CCSA skiers return to action in a little over a week, when they meet in Mt. Itasca for the distance free and classic events that will decide the conference champions.
Northern Michigan remained on top in the second day of the CCSA Championships, as both the Wildcats’ top relay teams earned victories in both the women’s 3 x 5K classic race as well as the men’s 3 x 10K event.
The Wildcat women’s team, made up of Rosie Frankowski, Jordyn Ross and Mary Kate Cirelli, each turned in the top times of their respective legs to cruise to a comfortable 25-second victory. Alaska’s team of Marit Rjabov, Julia Ebner and Heidi Brook proved to be NMU’s toughest competitors, taking second with a time of 39:53.1.
Michigan Tech’s squad of Deedra Irwin, Sarah Daniels and Rachel Mason took third in the relay, while Northern Michigan’s second relay team, made up of Malin Eriksson, Elizabeth SImak and Megan Edic, took fourth among CCSA skiers.
On the men’s side, the Wildcats’ team of Kyle Bratrud, George Cartwright and Erik Soderman stormed out to an early lead and never looked back, completing their 30K in 1:07:19.1 – nearly a minute and a half better than their closest competitors.
St. Scholastica’s team of Scott Johanik, John Wessling and Jeremy Hecker took silver in the event, crossing the line in 1:08:43.2, followed closely by a pair of Michigan Tech squads. The Huskies first squad, made up of Sondre Sandvik, Matt Wong and Luke Gesior, took third in 1:08:43.4, and the team’s second grouping (Matt Dugan, Thomas Kendrick and Jay Woodbeck) finished fourth in 1:10:45.2.
With their wins today, the Wildcats extend their lead in the CCSA Championship standings, as the NMU women topped the table on Sunday with 78 points. Alaska’s 69 point haul put them in second place on the day, while Michigan Tech took third with 60.
On the men’s side, NMU again took top honors with 78 points, followed by St. Scholastica in second with 69 points. Michigan Tech’s 60 points put them in third place on the day, followed by Alaska with 51.
The CCSA skiers now enjoy a weekend off before the deciding events of the CCSA Championships – an individual start 10K classic race at Mt. Itasca on Feb. 16, followed by a 20K mass start freestyle on Feb. 17.
Northern Michigan: 67 points
2. Michigan Tech: 63 points
3. Alaska: 60 points
4. St. Scholastica: 48 points
5. Green Bay: 47 points
6. St. Olaf College: 40 points
7. Gustavus Adolphus College: 8 points
1. Northern Michigan: 73 points
2. St. Scholastica: 65 points
3. Michigan Tech: 64 points
4. Alaska: 54 points
5. Green Bay: 41 points
6. Gustavus Adolphus College: 33 points
7. St. Olaf College: 27 points