ISPHEMING, Mich. -- Four members of the Michigan Tech Nordic skiing team garnered All-Region accolades to lead the Huskies at the NCAA Central Regional Championships held at the Al Quaal Recreation Area Saturday (Feb. 17) and Sunday (Feb. 18).
Three skiers -- Kristina Owen (East Wenatchee, Wash./Eastmont), Jesse Lang (St. Louis Park, Minn.) and Kevin Heglund (Andover, Minn./Anoka) -- gained regional honors in both the freestyle and classic races, while Aaron Ditty (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Park Center) finished among the top 10 collegians in the classic competition.
"I was happy with the overall performances of our team, on what were some fairly challenging conditions," said head coach Joe Haggenmiller.
"After a bit of an average day on Saturday we raced quite a bit better on Sunday. We had several great individual efforts, and finishing third in both the men's and women's team points race is a solid weekend."
Owen started the two-day competition with a ninth-place showing in the five-kilometer freestyle (19:02.0) and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the 10-kilometer classic (35:53.9). Jenna Klein (Ely, Minn.) was the second-highest participant for the Huskies on the women's side, as she took 17th in the freestyle (20:01.1) and 14th in the classic (37:58.6). Elizabeth Quinley (Anchorage, Alaska/East) ranked 18th among collegians in the freestyle (20:01.4), but did not race in Sunday's classic due to an illness.
"Kristina [Owen] finished about where we expected her to as a two-time All-American," said Haggenmiller. "Jenna [Klein] had a pair of respectable races and she is continuing to get more confident against strong competition. Liz [Quinley] wasn't feeling well, but she was able to ski ok on Saturday."
Lang was recognized as an All-Region selection for the first time in his collegiate career by finishing sixth in the freestyle (32:41.4) and fourth in the classic (44:28.3). , Likewise, Heglund secured the eighth spot in the freestyle (33:17.2) and took the 10th slot in the classic (45:57.4). Ditty was 17th in the free (34:37.9) and eighth in the classic (45:40.4). Chris Harvey (Eden Prairie, Minn.) finished 14th in the free (34:22.7) and 15th in the classic (46:40.0).
"Jesse [Lang] continued to ski the way he has all season," said Haggenmiller. He has emerged as our most consistent racer in both the freestyle and classic. Kevin [Heglund] put together two strong races, and he should be in good position to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
I was really happy to see Aaron [Ditty] ski really well in what was probably the final race of his college career. Chris [Harvey] had a decent weekend and he battled hard all the way."
In both the men's and women's team results, Northern Michigan and Alaska [Fairbanks] ranked first and second, respectively. The Huskies were just
12 points out of third on the men's side, while the women were 20 points back from the Nanooks.
"A few years ago we were fighting for fifth in the region and now we are nipping on the heals of both Alaska [Fairbanks] and Northern Michigan.
We have a bright future because NMU has some special skiers that will be moving on soon. It's gratifying to see our team make such noticeable strides in our region."
For compete races results from the NCAA Central Regional Championships log on to www.itiming.com or http://www.ccsaski.com.
The next possible competition for MTU is at the American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet next Saturday (Feb. 24, 2007) near Hayward, Wis.
Several Tech skiers are expected to be a part of the field of 78 participants (39 women, 39 men), which includes nine men and 10 women from the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) region, that will be compete for a national title at the 2007 NCAA National Collegiate Skiing Championships Mar. 7-10 in Jackson, N.H. Heglund, Klein, Lang, Owen and Quinley are in position to be on the list scheduled be announced this Tuesday (Feb. 20).
Notes: Adam Airoldi (Everson, Wash.) was in prime position for a berth in the NCAAs, but an injury forced him to race in pain during the classic and sit out the freestyle.
NCAA Central Regional Championships Team Results
Northern Michigan -- 184 points
Alaska [Fairbanks] -- 172 points
Michigan Tech -- 160 points
Wisconsin-Green Bay -- 133 points
St. Scholastica -- 112 points
Gustavus Adolphus -- 98 points
St. Olaf -- 92 points
St. John's -- 79 points
Northland -- 36 points
Finlandia -- 20 points
Northern Michigan -- 192 points
Alaska [Fairbanks] -- 168 points
Michigan Tech -- 148 points
Gustavus Adolphus -- 145 points
St. Olaf -- 107 points
St. Benedict -- 105 points
Wisconsin-Green Bay -- 87 points
St. Scholastica -- 71 points
Northland -- 42 points
St. Cloud State -- 37 points
Finlandia -- 4 points