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2009 Central Collegiate Ski Association preview, Part II

Tue, Jan  13, 2009 - By Matias Saari

More MINNESOTA SCHOOLS

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS COLLEGE 

2007-08 standings: Central Region: 4th; NCAA: 15th

Location: St. Peter, Minn.
Head coach: Jed Friedrich (5th year)
Assistant coach: Andy Rishavy

Top male returners: Jens Brabbit, Andrew Tilman, Eli Anoszko, Andrew Poffenberger, Logan Smestad
Top female returners: Kelly Chaudoin, Alye Bohn, Erin Eppler, Kathryn Ladig, Cassandra Brady
Top newcomers: Anders Bowman, Peter Larsen, Jon Kasprisin, Kory Freeberg, Danielle Burgmeier, Jill Manthey, Annika Ferber
Key departed skiers: Laura Edlund, Kathleen DeWahl, Sarah Willis, Kevin Patzoldt

Web site: www.gustavus.edu/athletics

2008-09 outlook: Repeating last year’s accomplishment of sending three women to the NCAAs surely won’t happen for Gustavus Adolphus, but that hardly means head coach Jed Friedrich has lost focus about nationals.

“My team goal is to rebuild and form more teams that can compete with the best in the region,” said Friedrich, the 2007-08 unanimous choice for women’s CCSA Coach of the Year. “What happened last year might not happen every year because I think it takes a special group of athletes to grow and develop together over the course of 3-4 years. But I am always trying to build that kind of team.”

What happened in 2007-08 is that Laura Edlund, Kathleen DeWahl and Kelly Chaudoin all qualified for NCAAs after leading the Division III Gusties to second place among women’s teams at the Central Region Championships. Edlund paced the trio with 18th place in the NCAA classic race.

Only Chaudoin, a senior from Ely, Minn., returns.

“Kelly Chaudoin will lead the women’s team as she put in a great summer of training,” Friedrich said. “Our men’s team should be a lot stronger as guys have made significant gains in testing so far. Just like every year, I expect a few surprises from a few skiers.”

Sophomores Jens Brabbit and Andrew Tilman are expected to pace the men’s team. Brabbit got off to a strong start this season by finishing third in the freestyle and sixth in the classic among college skiers Dec. 13-14 at the Grand View XC Ski Challenge in Ironwood, Mich.

SAINT JOHN’S UNIVERSITY

2007-08 standings: Central Region: 10th (men’s standings: 8th)

Location: Collegeville, Minn.
Head coach: David Johnson, 9th season
Assistant coach: Kelly Wubbels

Top returners: So. Jared Sundstrom, So. Mason Bacso
Top newcomers: Bob Gerten, Grant Cook
Key departed skiers: Derek Neal

Web site: www.gojohnnies.com

2008-09 outlook: After graduating five seniors the year before, the Johnnies spent 2007-08 in rebuilding mode. Now sophomores Jared Sundstrom and Mason Bacso head the 12-member squad that hails entirely from Minnesota. "We have a strong, yet young, team,” coach David Johnson said. “January and February will tell if they are ready to compete this year.”

Saint John’s is one of six schools from Minnesota in the CCSA. “We want to continue to develop our young skiers and be competitive with the other Minnesota schools,” Johnson said. 

Aiding SJU’s cause is 20 kilometers of groomed ski trails on a 2,500-acre campus filled with natural hardwood forest, lakes and prairie. The trails start just 100 meters from the team’s locker room. 

Johnson seeks to balance academics with athletics and competition with fun. "We work to provide a quality training and racing experience without killing the joy of being a ski racer,” Johnson said. “We encourage each athlete to not just train hard but train smart and focus on developing long-term goals.”

SJU is a men’s only team. Located 10 kilometers away is the women’s only College of Saint Benedict, which is also coached by Johnson. Both schools are in central Minnesota near St. Cloud and share an academic program but have separate athletic programs, campuses, residence halls and traditions.

SAINT OLAF COLLEGE

2007-08 standings: Central Region: 7th

Location: Northfield, Minn.
Head coach: Mark Skildum, first season

Top male returners: So. Tom Jorgenson, Sr. Jim Vaillancourt, Sr. Matt Rowe
Top female returners: Sr. Shaina Short, Jr. Caitlin Marine
Top newcomers: Brandon Piechowski, Anders Nienstad, Sarah Fleming, Hillary Boyce
Key departed skiers: Nels Dyste, Jennie Hedberg, Nellie Adams

Web site: www.stolaf.edu/athletics

2008-09 outlook: Mark Skildum takes over as coach of the Oles and inherits men’s and women’s teams that each won 2008 U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association national championships. Skildum, a 2003 St. Olaf graduate, was the head ski coach for five seasons at Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minn. He also founded the Cowboy Nordic Ski Club in 2005. Skildum replaces Ollie Garrison, who led St. Olaf for two years.

Skildum looks for Shaina Short and Caitlin Marine to be in the mix for NCAA berths. Short (Plymouth, Minn.) narrowly missed an NCAA spot in 2008 and placed second overall at the USCSA championships.

Freshmen Sarah Fleming and Hillary Boyce each have potential to be Junior Nationals qualifiers.

For the men, sophomore Tom Jorgenson (Roseville, Minn.), the individual winner at the USCSA championships, leads the way. “The men’s team has a good young core of athletes that are looking to get more CCSA experience this year in preparation for future seasons,” Skildum said.

Saint Olaf is an NCAA Division III school that cannot offer athletic scholarships, unlike DI and DII institutions. Skildum’s goal is to qualify two athletes for NCAAs and finish as the top non-scholarship school in the Central Region.

ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY

2007-08 standings: Central Region: 11th (women’s standings: 9th)

Location: St. Cloud, Minn.
Head coach: Jeremy Frost, 8th season

Top returners: So. Diane Vezendy, So. Mariah Featherly, So. Jenny Beckman, So. Amy Peterson
Top newcomers: Christy Ringsmuth

Web site: www.stcloudstate.edu/athletics

2008-09 outlook: A quartert of sophomores - Diane Vezendy, Mariah Featherly, Jenny Beckman and Amy Peterson - look to move St. Cloud State up in the CCSA ranks.

“I believe the outlook for this season is very positive. We have such a great group of women who are supportive, motivated and anxious to compete,” coach Jeremy Frost said. “The learning curve was steep last season and they come into this year’s races with valuable experience. We have used those experiences to help us modify and improve our training this year, which should make for some exciting racing this season.”

The Huskies, a women’s only team, started the season in late-November in West Yellowstone, Mont., raced in Ironwood, Michigan in mid-December and will attend the U.S. Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska in early January before hosting the Minnesota College Cup Jan. 18. Then they begin the Central Region NCAA qualifying races.

Featherly had the best result in Ironwood by taking 25th in the 10-kilometer classic. 

Frost, in his eighth season, said he appreciates how the conference works together to achieve success. “The CCSA coaches and athletes are a great group and really push all teams to improve,” he said.

The second largest university in Minnesota, SCSU is a Division II program located on the banks of the Mississippi River.