Racing under extreme conditions (according to Sten Fjeldheim, the Northern Michigan University Nordic ski coach) both NMU and Michigan Tech's Nordic ski teams competed at the CXC Holiday Invitational over the weekend. On Saturday (Dec. 13) the men competed in the 10K freestyle race while the women raced the 5K freestyle.
Phill Violett led the way for the Wildcats in the open division of the freestyle race. Violett finished in fourth place with a time of 25:37.2. Kevin Cutts was the next ‘Cat as he was 13th (26:25.0) following were Tim Cook 17th (26:59.6) and Justin Singleton 19th (27:00.9). Sindre Stokke captured the college freestyle race with a clocking of 26:26.1.
NMU had two of the top five women finishers in the open freestyle race. Christina Gillis was the first Wildcat across the finish line in fourth place with a time of 15:03.9 as Ingrid Fjeldheim was next with a 15:14.6. Anna Bergland was seventh (15:24.6) and Caitlin Cassidy 11th (16:24.1) for the ‘Cats. Randi Vermelid competing in the college division of the freestyle race was second (15:56.0).
The Michigan Tech Nordic ski teams won the combined team competition by one point over Wisconsin Freen Bay. Sophomore Jackie Pribyl was the top finisher for the Huskies finishing first among college women and fourth overall in the women’s five-kilometer freestyle race in 14:52.
Junior Jenna Klein finished 12th (15:21) and junior Liz Quinley was 16th (15:28) to round out the top three for Tech.
“The women had a pretty good day today,” said MTU head coach Joe Haggenmiller. “The women are starting to move forward. That is evident with the fact that we had eight racers finish in the top-30.”
The MTU men’s team also enjoyed a strong day placing three racers in the top-15 of the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle race. Junior Jesse Lang crossed the line in sixth place in 25:43 to lead the men. Another junior, Erik Mundahl was 12th (26:18) and senior Andrew Joda was on spot back in 13th in 26:18 to complete the scoring for Tech.
“Jesse came back very strong today after missing last weekend with an illness,” said head coach Joe Haggenmiller. “It was great to see Erik and Andrew finish in the top-15 for us today.”
On Sunday (Dec. 14) the men skied the 10K classic course and the women the 5K course.
Northern Michigan's Phill Violett again on Sunday led the ‘Cats with a fourth-place showing in the open division of the classic (27:35.6). Right behind Violett was teammate Cutts (27:44.0). Cook (29:34.0) 16th and Singleton 21st (29:51.2) rounded out the competitors for NMU. Stokke was second with a time of 28:35.7 in the college classic race.
The ‘Cats had the sixth through the ninth spots in the open classic race. Cassidy was the top ‘Cat with a time of 35:10.0 as she was followed by Bergland (35:14.6), Fjeldheim (35:17.7) and Gillis (35:41.3).
The Michigan Tech Nordic ski team scored 104 points to claim the overall combined team title. Wisconsin Green Bay was second with 101 points and Northern Michigan was third with 99 points in the seven team race.
“Pretty cool to step up and race at another level and win the team title at this race series,” said head coach Joe Haggenmiller. “But at the same time we can’t rest on our laurels as Northern Michigan and the other teams in our league will not sit back.”
MTU Junior Jenna Klein finished second in the college division and fourth overall in the women’s 10-kilometer classical race in 34:04.
Fellow junior Liz Quinley finished two spots back in 34:14. Sophomore Jackie Pribyl finished eighth overall (34:21) and freshman Melanie Hoffman crossed the line in 10th (35:00) to give Tech four skiers in the top-10. Sophomore Jill Smith had the best race of her college career after she finished 11th in the college division and 17th overall in 35:48.
“Jackie had a great weekend of racing and we hope to see her continue that success through out the season,” said Haggenmiller. “Overall the women were very competitive.”
Freshman Petter Sjulstad paced the men’s team with his sixth place overall finish in the 10-kilometer classical in 28:14. Senior Chris Harvey sneaked into the top-10 finishing 10th in 28:33.
Michigan Tech had three other skiers finish in the top-20, junior Jesse Lang 14th (28:45), senior Andrew Joda 19th (29:24) and junior Charlie Keller was 20th (29:25).
“I was real happy to see both Petter and Jesse post a sixth place finish this weekend. Erik, Chris and Andrew all contributed to our team’s success this weekend as well.”