It was another Blue and Gold day at the St. Scholastica Hilltop Invitational as victories from Raphaela Sieber and Alex Morris in the women’s 5K and men’s 10K classic helped hand Alaska the team title in Duluth.
The Nanooks filled four of the six podium spots at the Marshall School course, as Theresia Schnurr took second place in the women’s race while Saturday’s winner John Parry took silver in the men’s. All told, Alaska would place five men and four women in the top ten.
Gustavus’ Anders Bowman turned in his best race of the young season to take third on the men’s side, while Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman, who won Saturday’s skate event, showed her versatility by taking third among the women.
“I was really happy with the team from top to bottom today,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said. “Alex Morris was just on fire today. He got off to a really quick start and got faster every lap. Raphaela was a couple seconds behind early on, but then she stepped up. There’s a big hill in the middle of the course, and she was just ripping up it faster than everyone else.”
It was a second trip up to the podium this weekend for Sieber. The young German overcame a fall on Saturday to take second in the freestyle event, but there was no such mistake this time by. Trailing by two seconds after the first 1.5K, Sieber put the hammer down and ran away from the field, ultimately winning by a decisive 27-second margin.
Teammate Schnurr shook off ill effects of a cold to take second in a time of 18:02.8, a pace of 3:36 per kilometer. Freeman continued her push for a third-straight NCAA berth with a third-place finish in 18:06.4.
Freeman was followed closely by her Phoenix teammate Kailey Mucha, the freshman turning some heads with an impressive fourth-place finish in 18:13.2.
Another promising first-year skier, St. Olaf’s top finisher, Paige Schember, landed her first top-five finish of her collegiate career, taking fifth with an 18:21.0. Alaska’s third scoring skier, Marit Rjabov, took sixth with a time of 18:39.6, just edging seventh-place teammate Heather Edic by 2.6 seconds.
Gustavus’ Erica Hett (eighth), St. Cloud State’s Elizabeth Simak (ninth), and St. Olaf’s Emma Lee (10th) rounded out the CCSA top ten.
Inspired by seeing fellow Nanook Parry land his first collegiate win on Saturday, Alaska’s Morris followed suit, earning his first victory in comprehensive fashion on Sunday. The junior, who was just flown in earlier in the week, set a blistering 3:06 per kilometer pace to best his nearest competitor by a full 34 seconds.
Parry, meanwhile, took second with his time of 31:34.7, holding off the challenge of Gustavus’ Bowman by just 1.8 seconds. Bowman boosted his hopes of competing for an NCAA spot with one of the finest races of his three-year career: a third-place, 31:36.5 finish.
Alaska’s Erik Soederstroem and Ray Sabo took fourth and fifth place, respectively, giving the Nanooks four of the top five on the men’s side. Soederstroem’s time of 31:57.2 put him just ahead of Sabo’s 32:00.0.
Michigan Tech’s Petter Sjulstad showed his potential with a sixth-place finish in 32:02.5, while the Huskies’ Mikko Harju took seventh to round off a solid first weekend for the Finn.
Gustavus’ Jens Brabbit took eighth, while Alaska’s Lars Arneson (ninth) and host St. Scholastica Kasey Basco (10th) round out the top ten.
Behind the heroics of Parry and Morris, among others, Alaska earned the men’s team title with 77 points, followed by Michigan Tech with 63. Gustavus (58 points) edged St. Scholastica (56) for third, while St. Olaf (38), Green Bay (34) and St. John’s (31) completed the scoring.
On the women’s side, Alaska was again on top with 75 points, while Freeman’s performances over the two days helped lift Green Bay to second with 61. St. Olaf landed an impressive third-place finish with 51 points, followed by Michigan Tech with 45. Gustavus’s 42 points was good enough for fifth place, followed by St. Scholastica (37 pts), St. Cloud State (34 points) and College of St. Benedict (27 points).
The CCSA racers now head to the Wirth SuperTour stop in Minneapolis, Minn. next weekend, with freestyle racers set for Jan. 22 followed by classic events on Jan. 23.
For more information on the CCSA and its 11 member schools, please visit www.ccsaski.com.