GLIACs dominated by Wildcat skiers

Dustin Anand

The Northern Michigan University Nordic men’s ski team coasted to first place in the Central Collegiate Ski Association Championship at the Al Quaal Recreational Center in Ishpeming, Mich.

Junior George Cartwright competed in the 1.6 kilometer freestyle sprint, placing in first place followed by juniors Erik Soderman and Ben Hugus. Cartwright also took first with his teammates in the 3x10 kilometer relay.

The CCSA Championship started Saturday, Feb. 2. The competition was a combination of sprint races, relays, mass-start skate race and individual classic race.

Saturday’s event consisted of a freestyle sprint and Sunday was the classic relay race, both of which the men’s and women’s team won overall with total of points.

The men’s team topped first place in the 1.6 kilometer freestyle sprint.

Junior George Cartwright finished first place along with junior Ben Hugus in fourth and junior Erik Soderman in 6th for the men’s Green and Gold team. For the women’s team, three athletes scored in the top 10.

Cartwright said he was pleased with his team’s performance and the dedication everyone had.

“This weekend went well for the team,” Cartwright said. “As a team, we won all the events for both men and women. We expected nothing less.”

The ’Cats total points topped six other schools to win the event. A few schools who competed were Michigan Tech, Alaska-Fairbanks and UW-Green Bay.

“The CCSA championship is sort of an overall cup based on various event,” Cartwright said. “I had a solid weekend. I was fortunate to have two other very solid skiers on my team.”

New part-time assistant coach Ingrid Fjeldheim said the team exceeded their expectations thus far in the CCSA Championship.

“As a coach, it’s so rewarding to see all the athlete’s hard work for training and dedication pay off,” Fjeldheim said. “We saw some great improvements in technique and, of course, some fast skiing.”

The men’s team rallied up 73 points claiming first place with Michigan Tech coming in thirdwith 64 points.

“The season has been going very well,” Fjeldheim said. “The team meshes really well, both men’s and women’s. It’s a great group of athletes, mature and professional.”

The Wildcat men’s team finished on a high note placing in first Sunday in the classic relays. The ’Cats maintained the lead to stay on top as Erik Soderman, sophomore Kyle Bratrud and Cartwright raced to first place in the men’s 3×10-kilometer relay.

“Everybody worked well together, and we ended up taking home the entire event,” Soderman said. “The new course out at Al Quaal is fantastic to ski on, and the event was well executed.”

With the big finish of the men’s classic relay,  the ’Cats locked up first position with 78 points, with College of Saint Scholastica finishing in second with 69 points and Michigan Tech with 60 according to NMU Press Box.

For the women’s team, the ’Cats held the title with 78 points. Trailing behind was University of Alaska Fairbanks with 69 points and Michigan Tech with 60 points also according to NMU Press Box.

“We saw great improvements in technique and of course some fast skiing,” Fjeldheim said. “It was an easy weekend for waxing which always makes the coach’s job a bit easier. It was fun to be able to race on our home course.”

Fjeldheim said she looks forward for players to qualify for the NCAA championship and that the top 13 athletes at the NCAA tournament will be announced  All- Americans.

“The biggest goal for all collegiate ski athletes is to compete at the NCAA in March,” Fjeldheim said. “We are aiming to qualify a complete team, which is with three men and three women.”

The ’Cats look to tag-team with other athletes in the region to compete with the other regions. The NCAA championship will be held in Middlebury, Vt., starting on Wednesday, March 6. The ’Cats will continue the CCSA Championship for the distance portion on Saturday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 17 in Coleraine, Minn.