MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan men’s Nordic ski team recently finished the 2011-12 season. The Wildcats won the NCAA Central Regional and finished second at the Central Collegiate Skiing Association championship. 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.
Sophomore Erik Soderman captured an individual National Championship in the 10k freestyle with a time of 25:20.2. Freshman Kjell-Christian Markset also earned All-America honors in the same race with a ninth place finish.
The men tallied 116 points, with the women scoring 111 at the NCAA Championships. Soderman finished 25 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. With the first place finish, Soderman captured NMU’s first individual National Championship in five years. Bowler crossed the line in 33rd overall in the freestyle. In the 20k classic, Market was 25th, the highest finishing Wildcat in the event with a time of 1:00:25.9. Bowler finished 30th and Soderman 38th.
Three skiers were honored by the CCSA. Market and Soderman were honored as members of the first team and junior Chris Bowlder was on the second team. In the Central Region awards, Soderman was named Most Outstanding Athlete award for the men and Coach Sten Fjeldheim was honored as Coach of the Year.
The season opened with the Central USSA Opener (Dec. 10-11). Seven skiers placed in the top 14 in the men’s 10k freestyle race. Market (0:23:33.4), Soderman and sophomore George Cartwright finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Senior Kevin Cutts, junior Chris Bowler, sophomore Ben Hugus and freshman Kyle Bratrud rounded out the event for NMU crossing the line in 11th-14th places. For the 10k classic, seven skiers finished inside the top 20, with Market (0:26:02.8), Soderman and Braturd finishing third, fourth and fifth. Also finishing for the ‘Cats were Bower (ninth), Hugus (10th), Cartwright (12th) and Cutts (20th).
The ‘Cats opened 2012 at the U.S. Cross Country National Championships in Rumford, Maine (Jan. 5-6). In the 20k classic, Markset crossed the finish line first for NMU, finishing just inside the top 15 overall. Soderman came in 30th place, while Cartright and Bowler finished 33rd and 34th. In the 15k, Market came home with a 17th place, once again finishing first amongst his teammates. Soderman was 21st. NMU finished second out of 19 colleges on the weekend.
The ‘Cats competed in the CCSA Classic Individual Champions (Jan. 15) at the Hilltop Invitational in Duluth, Minn. where the team took second place with 137 points. In the men’s 1.5k classic sprints, NMU placed four skiers in the top ten. Cutts, Market and Bowler finished in sixth through eighth place, while Hugus placed 10th overall.
NMU captured its first overall team title of the season at the Mayor’s Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn. (Jan. 21-22). Soderman was the first Wildcat to cross the line, finishing sixth with a time of 34:09.9; he was also the first skier to finish that was representing a CCSA school. Market ended the day in 15th overall. In the 10k, Market finished with a time of 23:04.1, good for eighth place. Soderman rounded out the top 15, with Bowler in 21st and Bratrud in 25th.
The Wildcats placed second with 240 total points at the CCSA Championship (Feb. 11-12) at Michigan Tech. In the 20k, Market finished in third, crossing with at time of 1:02:44.6. Bratrud and Bowler finished in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Soderman rounded out the top 10. In the 3x5k freestyle relay race, the team of Soderman, Market and Cartwritght combined for a time of 37:27.7 for first place. The B-team anchored by Bratrud came home in third place.
A weekend sweep by Soderman in the freestyle and classic races capped off a perfect weekend for NMU, as the team captured the NCCA Central Region (Feb. 17-18). In the 10k, the ‘Cats took five of the top seven positions. Soderman crossed the line in first with a time of 24:30.50. Markset, Bowler and Cartwright swept third through fifth place with Braturd finishing in seventh. On the second day of competition in the 15k classic, NMU captured four of the top five places. Soderman finished in first while Bratrud and Market crossed the line in third and fourth place. Rounding out the top five for NMU was Bowler.
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