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Hett & Torchia Top Michigan Tech Mass Starts

The second day of racing at the Michigan Tech Invitational saw a lot of hard racing in both fields. Each team was faced by tricky conditions with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees. The morning started off with the women’s 15 kilometer classic mass start. With the warm conditions it seemed that each team had a different approach to making the skis kick, some using hardwax while others opted for klister or klister covered by hardwax.

Once the race was off the women of Northern Michigan University (NMU) asserted their dominance by getting to the front and controlling the pace. By doing so they were able to take the top three spots led by Vivian Hett with a time of 49:21.9. Hett skied to a commanding win after the second lap winning by almost 48 seconds over yesterday’s winner Felicia Gesior. Just under a minute back, there was a real battle for third going on between NMU’s Sophie Schimpl and Michigan Tech’s Andrea Lee. In the end Schimpl out-sprinted Lee by three tenths of a second to finish +1:48. With the top three spots the ladies of NMU solidified their win on the weekend in the team scores.

Led by the strong fourth-place performance by Lee, the women of Michigan Tech were able to fend off and extend their lead on Saint Scholastica. Lee was followed by Sonja Hedblom in ninth and Carolyn Lucca in 12th to accrue 41 points in the team scores. With taking second on the weekend coach Joe Haggenmiller was pleased with the solid effort his women put in.

“Yesterday I was happy with taking second place with both teams,” the Michigan Tech coach said. “I think that came down to the way our second and third place skiers were racing on both sides. They were skiing hard and battling it out. Today we saw more of the same for the women, I think we had an even better day today.”

Saint Scholasica’s women placed third on the day with 33 points. Kelsey Dickinson led the charge for the Saints in 11th place with teammates Elizabeth Evans in 13th and Chelsey Youngberg in 15th.

St. Olaf proved its mettle in the women’s race, with Nora Gilbertson placing 14th and Piper Bain 19th.

In the men’s 20 k mass start, the weather proved to be even trickier with the sun peeking out just before race time and changing the snow conditions. As each team was getting their racers skis ready they noticed this change and realized that most hard waxes were too slick while most klisters were still too sticky. With these conditions we saw many athletes choose their Zeros to try and get the best kick and glide combo possible.

At the start of the classic race, the NMU men followed the example of their women earlier in the day and jumped out to an early lead. Alumnus Kyle Bratrud was also in the pack, racing for CXC but not scoring in the college standings. He eventually beat out the current Wildcats at the line by 0.9 seconds in a sprint finish.

In the collegiate race, NMU ultimately took the top three positions while also placing the rest of their seven-man squad in the top 10. Then team was led by a strong effort from Ian Torchia who finished with a time of 55:54.3. Torchia was followed by teammates Adam Martin in second (+40.3) and Fredrik Schwencke (+52.3) in third.

The men of Saint Scholastica snatched the second place team spot from Michigan Tech today with 42 points, giving them second on the day as well as the weekend. The Saints were led by Reitler Hodgert in sixth, with Joe Dubay close behind in eighth and Chris Parr rounding out the top 10.

Michigan Tech ended up third after a harsh crash early on in the race that saw one of their top skiers, Gaspard Cuenot, drop form the race. In his absence Tech was led by Kyle Hanson in 12th, followed by Tomas Kendrick 13th and Seth Mares 15th.

UW Green Bay was nipping at the heels of Michigan Tech, only 3 points back with a total of 27. Their men fought hard with an 11th from Matthew Nichols, 20th Kyle Marshal and 24th Jacob Ajax.

This week’s CCSA Female Athlete of the week is Vivian Hett of Northern Michigan University. Vivian raced hard this weekend with a 2nd place finish in Saturday’s 5 kilometer Freestyle race. Hett followed up her 2nd place finish with a win by a resounding 48 seconds in the 15 kilometer classic mass start. Hett will be representing her country later this year in Romania at the World Junior Championships.

This week’s CCSA Male Athlete of the week is Ian Torchia. Torchia was in top form this weekend taking wins in both races. Torchia skied to 28 second win in Saturday’s 10 kilometer skate race, and a 40 second wins over the field in Sundays 20 kilometer classic mass start. He will also be join his teammate Vivian Hett in Romania to represent the United States at the World Junior Championships in February.

The CCSA racing continues in two weeks at Theodore Worth Park in Minneapolis, MN. As the last few races approach, each athlete and team will be in the hunt for crucial NCAA qualifying points.

Results

Women: opencollegiate only

Men: opencollegiate only

-Shane MacDowell

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