MARQUETTE, Mich. –The Northern Michigan University women’s Nordic skiing teams closed out the 2009-10 season on a sensational note by winning seven of eight events.
The Wildcats began the season at the Michigan Tech Challenge. With 22 team points, NMU would go on and win the competition on the first day. In the 5K freestyle race, the ‘Cats had three skiers in the top seven. Christina Gillis led the way with a time of 17:28.6 while Marie-Helen Soderman (17:47.7) and Libby Ellis (18:29.5) placed second and seventh respectively. On the second day, it would be Gillis once again taking over for the Wildcats as she took the 5K classic race with a time of 18:37.8. The Wildcats swept the event with 20 team points while Michigan Tech finished second with 14.
The next event for the Wildcats was the 2010 Conoco Phillips U.S. Cross Country Championships. The sprint freestyle competition saw Gillis leading the way for the ‘Cats with a 12th place showing (3:21.23). Following Gillis was Monica Markvardsen 29th (3:23.40) and Laura DeWitt 32nd (3:28.35). In the 10K freestyle competition, Gillis led the ‘Cats with a 34th place showing with a time of 32:24.7 while DeWitt came in 36th (32:29.0). On day two of competition, DeWitt led NMU in the 20K mass start classic race with a time of 1:19:24.8 for 16th place. Next was Gillis in 24th (1:20:54.0). In the classic sprint, Gillis along with DeWitt placed in the top 30. Gillis finished in 12th place with a time of 3:42.27 while DeWitt placed 27th (3:50.60). Markvardsen had an eighth place showing on the U.S. Ski Team World Junior overall ranking list.
NMU would then compete at the SuperTour event inj Minneapolis. The first day of the event showcased the 5K freestyle race as Gillis had a fourth place showing in the women’s senior race with a time of 12.57.3 while Helen -Soderman placed seventh (13:21.8). Ellis was the second ‘Cat to finish as she was third (14:18.). The second day of the event featured the 10K classic race as DeWitt was the top finisher for NMU with a seventh place overall showing with a time of 30:42.1. On the final day of the event in the 10K freestyle race, five ‘Cats finished in the top 10 and took team honors. DeWitt was the leader of the pack for the ‘Cats finishing second in the freestyle race. She completed the race with a time of 31:04.6. Following DeWitt was Markvardsen third (31:27.7), Helen-Soderman sixth (32:14.6) while Ingrid Fjelheim (32:26.0) and Gillis (32:31.4) finished eighth and ninth respectively. As a team, NMU scored 82 points with Michigan Tech second with 75. The ‘Cats took the two-day total with 166 points. In addition, both men’s and women’s teams took the combined team score with 320 points.
The ‘Cats then competed at the Telemark SuperTour event in Cable, Wis. NMU took the team title on the first day which was the 5Kclassic race with 84 points. DeWitt took the collegiate race with a clocking of 17:30.8 with teammate Gillis third (17:40.4) and Helen-Soderman fifth (17:49.4). The second day of the event the skiers skated in the 10K freestyle race. NMU placed five skiers in the top 10 as the ‘Cats claimed team honors with 82 points. DeWitt placed second (31:04.6) Markvardsen was second (31:27.7).
NMU came in second in the team race at the CCSA Championships. In the 15K freestyle event, the three skiers for the ‘Cats placed in the top 10. The skiers were Markvardsen second (38:35.9), Gillis third (38:45.4) and Helen-Soderman ninth (29:19.10). For the weekend, it was the ‘Cats that took team honors from the classic and freestyle races with 162 combined points.
On the first day of the NCAA Central Regional Cross Country Skiing Championships, three ‘Cats placed in the top three in the 5K classic race. DeWitt was the first ‘Cat to cross the finish line with a time of 16:59.1 to take the event. Gillis (17:00.1) and Markvardsen (17:01.4) were second and third respectively. NMU took team honors by scoring 87 points to Alaska’s 71. The second day of competition saw the ‘Cats recorded 87 points in the team standings and scored 174 combined points to capture team honors. Gillis paced the ‘Cats in winning the 10K freestyle race with a time of 30:31.1 second and third were Markvardsen (30:25.6) and DeWitt (30:26.1).
DeWitt and the ‘Cats wrapped up the season at the 2010 NCAA Skiing Championships in the 5K classic race and the 15K freestyle race. On the first day of competition, DeWitt led the ‘Cats in the 5K classic race in eighth place, which was good for All-American status, with a time of 17:19.4. Markvardsen finished 24th (18:27.5) However on the second day, she was unable to match her All-American performance as she had a 12th place showing with a time of 43:26.2. Markvardsen would finish the completion in 14th place (43:36.5). As a team, NMU finish the championships on with 166 points which was good for 14th place while Denver claimed the championship scoring 785.5 points.
### NMU ###
Story by Stanley Jefferson
Sports Information Director