MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University women’s Nordic ski team has concluded its 2011-12 season at the NCAA Championships in Bozeman, Mont. The Wildcats won the Central Collegiate Ski Association title, the Central Regional and junior Marie Helen Soderman was an All-American after a 10th place finish in the 5k freestyle. The team ended the season with an 11th place finish at the 2012 NCAA Skiing Championships in Bozeman, Mont. The ‘Cats were the highest ranked team that didn’t have alpine skiers.
Three ‘Cats were honored by the CCSA. Sophomore Molly Burger was named to the CCSA second team, while junior Rosie Frankowski and junior Monica Markvardsen were named to the first team. The ‘Cats also had one skier honored for the Central Region postseason awards. Junior Marie Helen Soderman earned the region’s Most Outstanding Athlete and coach Sten Fjeldheim was named Coach of the Year.
The men tallied 116 points, with the women scoring 111 at the NCAA Championships (March 7-9). In the 5k freestyle, Soderman finished with a time of 15:10.5, good for 10th place and her first All-America honors. Markvardsen followed in 18th place. Rounding out the event for NMU was Burger in 26th. In the 15k classic, Soderman was the top finisher for the ‘Cats coming in 13th place. Markvardsen crossed the line in 24th with Burger in 38th.
The ‘Cats kicked off the season in Ironwood, Mich. at the Central USSA Opener/Wolverine Ski Challenge (Dec. 10-11). In the 5k freestyle, six skiers placed inside the top 15. Markvardsen was the first Wildcat to cross the line for third place (13:55.7) with Soderman finishing fourth. Burger came in sixth and Frankowski was ninth. Also competing for the ‘Cats was sophomore Jordyn Ross (15th), freshman Felicia Gesior (27th) and freshman Ingrid Saupstad (44th). In the 10k classic race, Markvardsen (31:12.9) and Soderman (31:21.9) finished in first and second respectively. Burger, Ross and Frankowski placed seventh through ninth place. Saupstad (13th), junior Libby Ellis (14th) and Geisor (16th) also raced for the ‘Cats.
The Wildcats traveled to Rumford Maine for the U.S. Cross Country National Championship (Jan. 3-4) where Markvardsen finished 16th in the 20k classical with a time of 1:08:20.5. Frankowski was 34th and Ross came in close behind in 39th place. For the 10k freestyle, Marskvardesn finished 21st and Frankowsi was 55th. As a team, Northern finished in fifth place.
NMU continued the season at the Hilltop Invitational (Jan. 14-15) in Duluth, Minn. In the 1.5k classic sprint, Markvardsen came in second place overall. Frankowski finished sixth and Ellis rounded out the top 10 for NMU. Burger won the 5k freestyle with Markvardsen in third and Ross fourth. Ellis and Soderman finished seventh and eighth in the race. The ‘Cats won the weekend's race with 143 points.
In Minneapolis, Minn. at the 2012 Mayor’s Challenge (Jan. 21-22), NMU started the weekend off with Markvardsen finishing in fifth place with a time of 17:59.6 in the 5k classic. Burger, Ellis, Frankowski and Ross came home in places 14 through 17. In the 10k freestyle, four ‘Cats finished inside the top 20 with Markvardsen leading the way in sixth. She was the first CCSA school representative. Burger came home in 11th place with a time of while Ross and Ellis finished back-to-back to round out the top 20. NMU finished first as a team in the freestyle event and finished in a tie for the women’s title.
At the CCSA Championship (Feb. 11-12) Markvardsen continued her success with a first place finish in the 15k classic with a time of 58:36.7. Frankowski and Ellis were right behind Marksvardsen in second and third places, respectively. In the 3x5k freestyle ray race, NMU’s team of Soderman, Burger and Markvardsen finished first with an overall time of 44:24.4. The B-team consisting of Gesior, Ellis and Frankowski came in fifth. The ‘Cats closed out the weekend in first place with 250 total points.
The ‘Cats hosted the NCAA Regional at the Al Quaal Ski Area in Ishpeming (Feb. 17-18). NMU took three of the top four positions in the freestyle with Soderman crossing the line first while Markvardsen and Ellis crossed the line third and fourth. In the 10k classic race, NMU skiers swept the podium with Markvardsen in first with a time of 32:50.00, Burger and Soderman placed second and third. As a team, NMU finished first with 172 points.
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