COLERAINE, Minn. -- The Michigan Tech Nordic skiing team kicked-off the first of two Nor-Am SuperTour races in the month of January this past Saturday (Jan. 20) and Sunday (Jan. 21) at the Mount Itasca Ski Area.
The event marked the second of a total of five Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) qualifiers for the NCAA National Championships to be held in Jackson, N.H., Mar. 7-10.
The Huskies finished third overall among CCSA teams with 320 points, trailing only Alaska-Fairbanks (352) and Northern Michigan (354). The men amassed 163 points, while the women totaled 157 points.
"Overall, I am happy with how we skied as a team this weekend," said head coach Joe Haggenmiller. "We are still getting our racing legs underneath us with how little training we had in November and December.
I am hoping that as the season progresses we will get more consistent, especially with the freestyle races."
Two-time All-American Kristina Owen (East Wenatchee, Wash./Eastmont) was Tech's top performer on the women's side, as she finished seventh overall and second among CCSA racers in the five-kilometer classic race with a time of 15:15.0. The senior took 14th in the 10-kilometer freestyle competition and ranked sixth among regional collegians after clocking in at 27:56.8.
Elizabeth Quinley (Anchorage, Alaska/East) posted standout performances in both races, including a 12th-place overall showing and sixth-place finish in the collegiate division of the classic race with a time of 15:39.6. More noteworthy, however, was her 22nd-place overall result in Sunday's freestyle course. Quinley's time of 29:35.4 was good for 14th among divisional competitors and was a personal best.
Jenna Klein (Ely, Minn.) ranked 20th overall and 12th amongst her peers with a time of 16:05.4 in the classic and she grabbed the 29th slot with a reading of 30:12.3 in the freestyle. She was 20th among collegians in the race.
"Kristina skied well on Saturday, but I know she had higher expectations for Sunday's freestyle race," said Haggenmiller. "In my mind, Liz not only had the race of the day for the Huskies on Sunday, but she also had her best day of her young college career. Jenna had a solid weekend and should keep improving each week with more training."
For the men, Jesse Lang (St. Louis Park, Minn.) continued his breakout campaign with a pair of top-five showings in the CCSA division. Lang's time of 26:31.3 placed him fourth among collegians and 18th overall in the 10-kilometer classic, while his time of 38:36.4 in the 15-kilometer freestyle claimed fifth-place in the collegiate group and 23rd among all racers.
Assistant coach Karl Walczak (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) collected the 13th-place slot in the freestyle with a time of 37:01.4 and the veteran racer ranked 22th in the classic after clocking in at 26:51.3. Chris Harvey (Eden Prairie, Minn.) took seventh in the freestyle college division (39:29.2) and was 15th in the classic portion of the college race (27:57.0). Aaron Ditty (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Park Center) put together a solid eight-place effort among collegians in the classic (27:00.0) and was the 22nd-best college skier in the freestyle (41:35.7).
"It was great to see Jesse perform at such a high level again, " said Haggenmiller. "I am expecting him to finish in the top five of CCSA competitors on a consistent basis now. I wasn't necessarily expecting that when the season started, but he has emerged as one of our go-to racers in both the classic and freestyle."
"Aaron got back to where he should be in Saturday's race, and that was good to see. Chris had a strong race on Sunday and I think he starting to turn the corner. Karl continues to race at a high level and provides a good example for our team to learn from at these races."
The CCSA teams will take part in the third NCAA qualifier among CCSA events at another NorAm SuperTour event this Saturday (Jan. 27) and Sunday (Jan. 28) at Telemark Ski Area in Cable, Wis.
For complete results, as well a CCSA-only skiers' listing, visit www.ccsaski.com.