Skiiers celebrate season of success

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NMU held a banquet for the men’s and women’s Nordic skiing teams for their success at the Division II national championships on Tuesday in the Wildcat Room. Many people from the NMU community came to honor the teams, including NMU President Les Wong, athletic director Ken Godfrey and a number of professors and coaches.

At the national championships the women’s team swept both the 5K freestyle race and the 15K classic. This was the first time in history that a school has taken the top three spots in both races.

Lindsay Weier and Lindsay Williams dominated the classic finishing in first and second over third place teammate Morgan Smyth. Williams won the 5K race for her own national title.

“It felt like the work we put in really showed in the output,” Williams said. “We really worked hard and it helped.”

The two champions were also co-recipients of the NMU Female Athlete of the Year Award.

“It was great to see these two girls get the award,” assistant coach Jenny Ryan said. “In a sport that doesn’t usually get recognized, they brought great pride and happiness.”

The men’s team also did well in the championships, with all-American Martin Banerud finishing seventh in the 20k classic. Teammates Bill Bowler and Phil Violett finished in the top 30 finishers in both races.

Despite their strong finish, the men’s team was also impressed by the accomplishments of their female peers.

“What the girls’ team did was just amazing,” Banerud said. “They did a great job and they deserve it.”

Bowler agreed, and added that the men’s team had a great race too, and hopes their team can sweep in the future.

“These teams have done an amazing job with all of the training and work that is done that many people never see,” Godfrey said. “We are proud of both of these teams, as athletes and students.”

The good news continued for the ski teams as coach Sten Fjeldheim announced that the men’s and women’s teams had the top two GPAs of any sports team on campus. The two teams are consistently the best scholastic team from NMU, but the men’s team edged out the women’s this year.

“We are proud of what was accomplished and by what the teams have done this year,” Fjeldheim said. “We accomplished what was not accomplished before. These are great ladies who were not cocky or taking anything for granted. We are really proud of all of them.”

The sentiments of everyone in the room may have been best summarized by Godfrey, who said: “We are all proud to be a Wildcat.”