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Central College Ski Association 2007-08 preview

Part 3

Fri, Jan  4, 2008 - By Matias Saari

The final segment of the Centeral College Ski Assocation season preveiw...

COLLEGE OF SAINT SCHOLASTICA

Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Coach: Chad Salmela, 2nd
2007 Central Region result: 7th

Top returning men: Jr. Tyler Kjorstad, Jr. Jason Cask Top returning women: So. Megan Holmes Top newcomers: Sr. Bjorn Bakken, Fr. Waylon Manske, Fr. Lindsay Wallis, Fr. Julia Curry

2007-08 outlook: The second-year program is looking for a breakthrough after Tyler Kjorstad and Jason Cask narrowly missed NCAA berths last season.

Those two are back, and are joined by senior Bjorn Bakken, a transfer from the University of Maine at Presque Ilse and the U.S. Biathlon Development Team, as well as freshman Waylon Manske.

"We have three upperclassmen all with realistic NCAA potential, plus a freshman with the motor to do it as well, so I would like to see at least one NCAA qualifier on the men’s side, if not more," Saints coach Chad Salmela said of the quartet.

The only drawback to that group’s talent, however, is that they may wind up competing against each other for an NCAA spot, said Salmela, a former member of the U.S. Biathlon Team.

For the young women’s team, sophomore Megan Holmes is coming off a solid summer of training with improved fitness and technique. She’ll be pushed by freshman Lindsay Wallis, a 2007 Junior Nationals All-American. Sophomore Ellen Anderson will redshirt to focus on the Junior World Biathlon Championships in Germany.

COLLEGE OF SAINT BENEDICT

(women’s team only)
Location: St. Joseph, Minnesota
Coach: David Johnson, 8th season

2007 Central Region result: 8th (6th among women’s teams) Top returners: Jr. Rebecca Mueller, So. Anna Roessler, So. Christi Nowak Top newcomers: Stephani Seymour, Lauren Day, Kim Eskuri Key departed skiers: Maggie Donahue, Kelly Wubbles

2007-08 outlook: The Blazers finished sixth among women’s teams in the CCSA last season and then took second at the Minnesota College Championships. Leading the team are sophomores Anna Roessler and Christi Nowak. Last season Roessler qualified for the Junior Olympics but was unable to attend; Nowak went as an alternate and recorded a 10th-place finish in the 10K mass start.

"We are excited about the potential of Christi and Anna," coach David Johnson said.

CSB is located in St. Joseph, Minn., in an area known as the Avon Hills that has rural roads ideal for rollerskiing and winters that provide up to 130 days of skiable conditions.

"We are a Division III school that is working hard to recruit skiers to become competitive with some of the top skiers in the country," Johnson said.

SAINT JOHN’S UNIVERSITY

(men’s team only)
Location: Collegeville, Minnesota
Coach: David Johnson, 8th season
2007 Central Region result: 9th

Top returners: So. Trevor Drake, Jr. David Gifford Top newcomers: Fr. Mason Bacso, Fr. Adam Johnson, Fr. Jared Sundstrom Key departed skiers: Tom Dehler, Erik Hendrickson

2007-08 outlook: Sophomore Trevor Drake (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and junior David Gifford (Detroit Lakes, Minn.) lead a youthful Johnnies squad. Drake started the season off strong by placing second in the Avon Hill Classic Challenge 12K on Dec. 16 on the team’s home course.

"We had a good season even though we didn’t send anyone to the NCAA Championships," coach David Johnson said about the 2006-07 year.

As for this season "we have a very young team where our strength will come from the first-year and sophomore skiers," Johnson said.

The team’s goal this season: "To develop strong student athletes who are competitive in the region."

To that end, SJU has excellent academics and a solid training ground.

"The student-athletes who choose to ski at St. John’s have 20K of groomed ski trails that start 100 meters from our ski room on a campus with 2,500 acres of hilly wooded land," Johnson said.

NORTHLAND COLLEGE

Location: Ashland, Wisconsin
Coach: Dave Beeksma, 2nd season
2007 Central Region result: 10th

Top returning men: So. Christopher Goscinak Top returning women: Sr. Sara Domek Top newcomers: Fr. Cassie Bodette Key departed skiers: Shannon Flynn

2007-08 outlook: Coach Dave Beeksma said the school’s inaugural season last year laid the foundation for the program’s future. The second season features a team that is "small in numbers and short on experience." Northland, located near Lake Superior in the midst of a national forest, is seeking to attract more skiers to the team and Beeksma says all levels of abilities are welcome.

"If you love to compete in Nordic skiing, you can do so at Northland," Beeksma said.

The Lumberjacks’ roster has 10 skiers; Sara Domek (Cora, Wyo.) is the top returning woman while Christopher Goscinak (Sharon, Mass.) heads the men and Cassie Bodette (Lakeville, Minn.) is the leading newcomer.

SAINT CLOUD STATE

(women’s team only)
Location: Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Coach: Jeremy Frost, 7th season
2007 Central Region result: 11th

Top returners: So. Melissa Walden, So. Katelyn Prow Top newcomers: Fr. Diane Vezendy, Fr. Jenny Beckman, Fr. Mariah Featherly, Fr. Amy Peterson

2007-08 outlook: Eight newcomers join a group of veterans led by Melissa Walden and Katelyn Prow for coach Jeremy Frost.

"This year looks very promising as our freshman skiers come in with a lot of experience with racing against top-level competition in the Junior Olympics and their respective state meets," Frost said. "Our major goal then will be to put skiers in contention for the NCAA slots for the CCSA. To this end, we are working daily improve the efficiency and fitness level of all of our skiers."

Among the freshmen are Diane Vezendy, Jenny Beckman, Mariah Featherly and Amy Peterson.

Vezendy was the only skier at her high school in Richland, N.Y., which meant she often trained by herself and had to travel to receive coaching and work out with other teams.

"She was successful despite not having an organized team in place at her school," Frost said.

Vezendy was also successful in her first distance race as a collegian on Dec. 16 as she won the Avon Hills Classic Challenge 6.5K race at the College of Saint Benedict.

Given that Saint Cloud sometimes has a shortage of snow, the school has undertaken a small snowmaking project on a section of its local ski trails.

"The natural snow we have gotten in December has been great and all our trails are open," Frost said. "And the snowmaking sections have added some depth which should keep them in great shape throughout the season."

Finlandia University

Location: Hancock, Michigan

Finlandia University has discontinued its varsity ski program.