Northern Michigan University's Andy Liebner opened the 2011 Championships in style for the CCSA, claiming an All-American spot with his ninth-place finish at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. Alaska’s David Norris just missed out on an All-American berth as well, taking 12th in the men’s 10K skate, while Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman produced the region’s top performance on the women’s side, finishing 15th in the women’s 5K event.
“I’m very excited about the outcome of Carolyn’s race today,” Green Bay’s Steve Teclaw said afterwards. “Her goal was to grasp an All-American title, but she had a solid race regardless. She was up against the best in the country, and it’s obvious Carolyn feeds off their talent. It definitely increases her drive to ski fast.”
Liebner earned the CCSA’s top finish on the men’s side, crossing the line with a time of 26:45.1. The junior stood in 11th place halfway through the 10K race, but turned it on over the closing stages to earn second-team All-American honors with a ninth-place finish in his first NCAA Championship race.
Alaska freshman Norris wasn’t far behind, however, taking 12th place in the event with a time of 26:53.5, just over seven seconds out from 10th place finisher Torhakon Hellebostad. Teammate Lex Treinen, a former All-American himself, took 15th place in the men’s event with his 26:57.5.
“There were a couple of good things to come out of today,” Alaska coach Scott Jerome said. “Dave Norris getting 12th and being less than eight seconds out of the top ten. And Lex has been sick half of the season, so for him to come in 15th was pretty good.”
Northern Michigan freshman Erik Soderman earned a top-twenty finish in his first trip to nationals as well; his time of 27:14.1 proving good enough for 19th place overall. Alaska’s third skier, Tyler Kornfield, crossed the line in 28th place, nipping Montana State’s Ryan Scott by just two-tenths of a second.
Northern’s Martin Banerud took 33rd place, with a time of 27:54.5, while Michigan Tech’s Mikko Harju and Gustavus’ Jens Brabbit, among the first competitors out on the course in the morning, finished 35th and 36th, respectively.
On the women’s side, Freeman led the way for the CCSA, with her 15:06.8 landing a top-20 finish for the senior. Northern Michigan’s Marie Helen Soderman missed out on 20th place by just one-tenth of a second, taking 21st in 15:16.0.
Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber was next in line for the region, finishing 24th with a time of 15:23.1 in her first NCAA appearance, while Wildcat Christina Turman came in 27th in 15:26.1. Alaska’s Theresia Schurr, racing in NCAA nationals for the third straight season, placed 28th, six-tenths of a second behind Turman.
“Today just wasn’t our day on the women’s side.” Jerome said. “It was a pretty easy wax day, but we just didn’t ski the way we expect to. But nobody mailed it in by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone gave it their all, I know that.”
Northern Michigan’ s Monica Markvardsen and Michigan Tech’s Malin Eriksson rounded out the CCSA field, taking 36th and 37th place, respectively.
The skiers now benefit from a day off before returning to Trapp Family Lodge on Friday to close out the 2011 season with a women’s 15K classic, starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a men’s 20K classic, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Early forecasts call for warm temperatures and rain on Friday, making for a potentially wet and unusual race. Regardless, the CCSA coaches maintain that they will be prepared.
“Regardless of the weather, we’ll be ready to go,” Jerome said. “We look forward to getting another chance.”
“I hope the predicted rain isn’t too much of a factor,” Teclaw said. “We’re confident that we can improve, and I believe our region has the talent to meet and exceed the results of the West and Eastern regions.”
For complete results from today’s races, please visit http://www.barttiming.com/eisa/Results11/ncaa11.htm.