BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Northern Michigan Nordic program began the 2012 NCAA Skiing Championship in dramatic fashion today (Mar. 7), with sophomore Erik Soderman capturing the school’s first Individual National Championship in five years and two others garnering All-American honors.
“What a great way to start the championship,” head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “Erik (Soderman) struggled last season at the NCAA’s, finishing 19th in the freestyle and last in the classic. I told him wait till next year, you’ll win the championship and looked what happened today.”
Soderman has now won three straight races, including both the freestyle and classic races at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional.
The women’s 5-kilometer freestyle race started the morning of competition off with senior Marie Helen Soderman setting the pace for her brother and teammates with a 10th place finish and All-American honors. Soderman crossed the line at 15:10.5, followed by junior Monica Markvardsen in 18th place with a time of 15:34.8.
“For Marie (Soderman) to finish in the top ten is really gratifying,” Fjeldheim said. “She made a big push at the end of the season and it’s a great way finish her college career.”
Rounding out the women was sophomore Molly Burger, who crossed the line in 26th place at 15:53.4.
The men capped off Day One on the trail with the 10k freestyle race. Soderman crossed the line with a blazing time of 25:20.2, some 25 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.
“He’s (Erik) only a sophomore but a great team leader,” Fjeldheim said. “We really found a diamond in the rough with Erik (Soderman).”
Freshman Kjell-Christian Markset continued an impressive rookie season with a ninth place finish and All-American honors with a time of 26:10.9. Junior Chris Bowler rounded out the afternoon for the ‘Cats with a 33rd place finish, clocking in at 27:40.2.
NMU is currently in sixth place with 154 total points. The ‘Cats earned 88 points from the men’s side and 66 points from the women’s side.
“It was a real family affair today,” Fjeldheim said. “We had alumni, volunteers and assistant coaches out here today early in the morning preparing the skis and I can’t thank them enough for their help.”
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