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NMU Sweeps Both Podiums at Day 1 of Michigan Tech Invite; Torchia & Gesior Win

The Michigan Tech Invitational kicked off Saturday under clear skies and above-average temperatures. The day started off with the men’s individual start 10 k skate. Temperatures were gradually rising above freezing just before the start, causing each team to look for the best wax and structure possible to fight off the increasing moisture in the snow.

Ian Torchia of Northern Michigan University (NMU) took top honors in the men’s race, finishing in a time of 25:50. He was followed 28 seconds later by two of his teammates, Adam Martin (+28.1) and Jake Brown (+29.1). With these three places NMU took an early lead in the team scores with 51 points.

(The races also featured non-collegiate skiers, with CXC’s Kyle Bratrud finishing second after Torchia, 11.2 seconds back. Senior racers were excluded from college results, however.)

Gaspard Cuenot led his Michigan Tech team to second place in the team scores with a fourth place finish (+45.2). He was followed by teammates Kyle Hanson in eighth and Daniel Wood 16th to stay just ahead of Saint Scholastica with 37 points.

Saint Scholastica’s men are nipping at the heels of MTU with 35 points, led by a strong performance from Reitler Hodgert in ninth. Hodgert was followed closely by his teammates Ryan St. Clair in 11th and Chris Parr 13th.

Of his mens team effort, Coach Salmela was pleased with the progress from last week.

“We’re moving in the right direction in freestyle,” Salmela said. “We got pummeled in freestyle last weekend and we tightened up our team effort against Tech, but still came up a couple points shy. Regardless, it’s the right direction.”

For the women’s race the temperatures had climbed up into the low 40’s with the sun shining down causing the snow to become glazed with moisture.

The CCSA women’s field was dominated by the skiers of NMU, taking the top five positions. NMU was led by Felicia Gesior stamping her authority all over the 5 k course, and winning by 17.5 seconds. Gesior was followed by her two teammates Vivian Hett and Sophie Schimple (+26.0). With these three spots the NMU women followed in the footsteps of their male counterparts and took the lead in the team scores with 51 points.

With both teams taking the lead after the first day, coach Sten Fjeldheim was very pleased with how his athletes seemed to be pushing one another.

“Our team is in a really good place right now,” Fjeldheim said. “They are working off one another to get faster each week, and we are seeing better and better racing out of them as the season goes on.”

As with the men’s race, a CXC senior athlete skied onto the overall podium: Alice Flanders, who edged in between Hett and Schimpl to finish third, +20.3. Sharmila Ahmed, a Saint Scholastica assistant coach, also skied into the top ten (+52.5).

Back in the collegiate race, the Michigan Tech women held strong to finish second on the day being led by Andrea Lee in seventh (+43.5). Her two teammates, Sonja Hedblom and Carolyn Lucca followed in tenth and 11th to give MTU 39 points.

The women of Saint Scholastica will be looking to reel in Michigan Tech tomorrow after falling by 3 points. The Saints were led by Kelsey Dickinson in sixth place (+40.5). After an early crash, Elizabeth Evans battled back hard to a 13th place finish. She was followed just over 20 seconds later by teammate Allison Ternes to finish 15th, giving them 36 points and 3rd on the day.

Of his womens effort, coach Salmela said,“I was happy with what I saw in effort and race form today, it hurts to lose to rival Michigan Tech, but Ellie and Kelsey looked great and were skiing competitively and Allison looked the strongest in skating yet this year.”

Outside the top three teams Saint Cloud States Coach Jeremy Frost was pleased with the improvement he saw in his team compared to last weekend. Maria Hauer fought her way into the top 20, finishing 19th (+2:19.6).

“It was great to see our skiers get off the start line and through the flat first kilometer a little quicker this weekend” said Frost. “This should give us more confidence leading into the last couple race weekends of the season.”

The racing action continues Sunday with the women’s 15 k classic mass start and men’s 20k classic mass start.

Results 

Women: overallcollegiate only

Men: overallcollegiate only

-Shane MacDowell.

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