HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Northern Michigan men’s and women’s Nordic ski teams began its defense of the Central Collegiate Ski Association Championships on Saturday (Feb. 11) at the Michigan Tech Trails.
The men’s team opened the day up for NMU at the MTU Trials with the 20k classic mass start race. Freshman Kjell-Christian Markset paced a group of four ‘Cats skiers inside the top 10. Markset proved that he’s a prime contender for a spot at the NCAA Championships next month with a third place finish, crossing with a time of 1:02:44.6. Fellow freshman Kyle Bratrud was next for NMU, coming home in fourth place with a time of 1:03:04.5. Finishing right behind Bratrud was junior Chris Bowler in fifth place, crossing in at 1:03:06.1. Sophomore Erik Soderman rounded out the top 10 for the ‘Cats, with a time of 1:04:30.5.
“Kjell (Christian Markset) had another great race today and was right up with the two University of Alaska Fairbanks skiers throughout the race,” head coach Sten Fjeldheim said.
UAF’s Tyler Kornfield and Erik Soederstroem swept the first two sports for the Nanooks.
“The men’s course was I think the toughest we’ve raced this season,” Fjeldheim said. “We had some great skis though and had two nice surprise finishes with Kyle (Bratrud) and Chris (Bowler) finishing in the top five.”
After the first day on the trails, the men’s team sits in second place with 81 points, three points behind UAF. The College of St. Scholastica is a distant third with 60 points and MTU is in fourth place with 57 points.
The women’s team concluded the afternoon for the ‘Cats with the 15k classic mass start race. Junior Monica Markvardsen paced three NMU skiers to podium finishes by reaching the finish line in first place with a time of 0:58:36.7. Juniors Rosie Frankowski and Libby Ellis rounded out the top three for the ‘Cats with times of 0:58:41.6 and 0:58:45.4 respectively.
"The women’s race was awesome,” Fjeldheim said. “Monica (Markvardsen) made a big move in the late stretch with Rosie (Frankowski) right behind her.”
Junior Marie Helen Soderman came home in sixth place for NMU with a time of 0:59:13.6, with sophomore Molly Burger rounding out the top 10, clocking in at 0:59:29.6.
“You can’t ask for more when we sweep the podium and place five skiers inside the top 10,” Fjeldheim said.
After the classic race, the ‘Cats sit atop the competition in first place, with 87 points. In second place is MTU with 75 points and in third place is UAF with 70 points.
“Today’s races were a fitness test for us with the wind and the weather affecting the course the way it did,” Fjeldheim said. “With that said, I think both teams performed great.”
The ‘Cats conclude the 2012 CCSA Championships tomorrow morning with the 3x5-kilometer freestyle relay. Each school is allowed two scoring teams in the race, with the women taking to the trails at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men at 12:30 p.m.
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