Ski team wraps up championships

Lauren Lee

NMU brought home a National Championship win from Sophomore Fredrik Schwencke at the NCAA Central Region Championship Sunday March 1 at Al Quaal to end the season for the ‘Cats.

Schwencke said he was under the weather going into the race, making him doubt his chance to clutch the win.

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“This race was the one race I had in mind since last year’s NCAA championship,” Schwencke said. “A couple of days before the race I got a legitimate cold, which made me doubt that I would even start the classic race. I knew that on a good day I could be up there fighting for the win, so this was extremely frustrating and disappointing considering this was the race I have been training for for a year. This made crossing the finish line first a big surprise and a huge relief.”
Now ranking seventh in the NCAA standings with 76 points, NMU ended the National Championship in tenth place including the alpine races.

The ski team wrapped up their season Friday, March 13 at Lake Placid New York with the NCAA National Championship, taking home a first place win in the 20k classic event. Schwencke also picked up a first place win in the freestyle event with a 56:12.3 time passing three other skiers with .6 on the clock.

Head coach Sten Fjeldheim said Schwencke’s dedication and the team’s encouragement earned the National Championship.

“Schwencke had good teammates to train with during the fall,” Fjeldheim said. “They pushed one another in the training sessions daily, weekly and monthly. He has a good attitude when it comes to training and racing but mostly he’s willing to put in the hours it takes to be a good skier.”

Earlier in the week, the Wildcats placed eighth out of 13 in the NCAA Championship freestyle Wednesday, March 11. Senior Kyle Bratrud earned All-American status on the first day of the competition, placing seventh in the men’s 10K freestyle race. Bratrud ended with a 26:22.3 time. The men finished eighth out of 15 with the women placing 11th.

Both the men and women swept the NCAA Central Regional Classic, taking first place.

Kristen Bourne said with the team connection the sweep isn’t a surprise.

“Our team spends so much time together that it becomes quite natural to grow as athletes and as a team,” Bourne said. “We push each other in every workout and motivate each other to get fitter.  When you have the support of a team like this it’s pretty easy to grow individually and as a group.”

The men earned the title scoring 129 points also putting four NMU skiers in the top five and the women came in at 123 points.

Senior Erik Soderman took the 10K freestyle title with a 23:24.0 time finishing 33.3 seconds ahead of the second place skier. The men finished overall with four skiers in the top 10 to gain 62 points.

The women earned 63 points with five skiers placing in the top 10. Senior Jordyn Ross finished second overall for the Wildcats just 3.4 seconds behind first place.

NMU competes without an alpine team which gives them zero in two events.

In the Nordic division, the ‘Cats came in fourth place, the only school to qualify that isn’t division one.

The schools that placed above NMU were Colorado University, University of Utah and New Mexico University.

Earlier in the season, NMU swept the CCSA Distance Championships Friday Feb. 13 and Saturday Feb. 14 in Minneapolis, Minn. Both days the men and women took first place ending the competition with seven skiers placing in the top 10.

The ’Cats earned another first place win from Bratrud at the U.S. National Championship in the 15K freestyle with a 42:01.6 time 50 seconds ahead of second place.

Fjeldheim said the ski season was a successful one with the team achieving various awards.

“We had an exciting season,” Fjeldheim said. “Started our great with Kyle Bratrud winning the U.S. Nationals 15k and being named to the U.S. World Championship team, also having three
of our athletes making the U.S. Junior World Team was a great achievement.”