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Michigan Tech's Lang takes 8th in NCAA Freestyle

Mon, Mar  16, 2009 - By Matias Saari

Lang of Michigan Tech bright spot on tough day for CCSA at NCAA Nordic Ski Championships

Despite Jesse Lang's performance, Saturday was another tough day for the Central Collegiate Ski Association at the NCAA Nordic Ski Championships in Rumford, Maine.

Though Lang of Michigan Tech picked up an All-American certificate for placing eighth in the mass-start 20-kilometer freestyle race, he was only joined by Martin Banerud of Northern Michigan (11th) among conference men in the top 20. For the women’s 15K, the CCSA’s best result was Laura DeWitt of NMU in 17th. Five women landed in the top 25 among 38 starters.

Lang, a junior from St. Louis Park, Minn., made history as the first male skier from MTU to be an All-American. He skied with the lead pack for much of the way and finished in 44 minutes, 43 seconds. Vegard Kjoelhamar of Colorado University won in 44:08.

“Jesse skied a really smart race,” MTU head coach Joe Haggenmiller told the school’s sports information department. “We knew he didn’t have the kick to race with the leaders at the end, so he had to force the pace early. We are really proud of Jesse. He has worked really hard during his ski career and this honor is well deserved. Our program has lots to celebrate tonight.”

The result was a dramatic improvement for Lang, who took 36th in the freestyle at the 2008 NCAAs. He also bounced back Saturday after placing 31st in Thursday’s classic-technique race.

Lang peaked at the right time as his only podium this season in CCSA qualifiers was a close second two weeks ago in freestyle at the Central Region Championships.

Lang’s All-American result was the only one for the CCSA in the NCAA Championships.

For Banerud, missing All-American by 0.2 seconds had to be a disappointment. The junior took fourth in freestyle at the two previous NCAA Championships and was aiming for the podium this time.

Other men’s results included Oskar Lund of MTU in 21st; Santiago Ocariz of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 29th; Tyler Kjorstad of College of St. Scholastica in 30th; Phil Violett of NMU in 32nd; Petter Sjulstad of MTU in 36th; Justin Singleton of NMU in 38th; and Oyvind Watterdal of Alaska-Fairbanks in 39th.

In the women’s race, Antje Maempel of Denver University won her second race of the championships in 38:35, as she outsprinted Alexa Turzian of Colorado by half a second.

For the CCSA, DeWitt was 17th in 40:18, Julia Pierson of UAF took 18th; Marie Helen Soderman of NMU was 20th; Anna Coulter of UAF placed 21st; and Theresia Schnurr of UAF notched 22nd. Pierson and Coulter are twins who have earned All-American in freestyle at previous NCAA championships.

Further back from the CCSA were Ingrid Fjeldheim in 32nd, Jenna Klein of MTU in 33rd; Carolyn Freeman of UWGB in 34th; Jill Smith of MTU in 35th and Elizabeth Quinley of MTU in 38th.

Denver University won the NCAA Ski Championship with 659 points. NMU led the CCSA in 11th place among 22 teams. The CCSA, which does not offer Alpine skiing, is at a disadvantage because the championships combine Alpine and Nordic results. There is no title awarded specifically for Nordic.

Complete results can be found here: