College of Saint Benedict Blazers
Location: St. Joseph, Minn.
Head Coach: David Johnson (11th season)
Assistant Coach: Emily Ranta
Top women’s returners: Megan Smith, Stephani Seymour
2010 CCSA Championships: Women- 6th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Women – 4th
A program on the rise, the Blazers come into the 2011 season with high expectations, and rightfully so. The CSB women scored a school-record fourth-place finish at this year’s NCAA Regional, thanks in no large part to the performance of then-freshman Megan Smith. Smith turned in two top-20 overall finishes at her first regional event, including a 14th-place finish (15th overall) in the 5K classic with a time of 18:19.8.
Returning for her sophomore season in 2011, Smith will be looking to improve upon her outstanding freshman campaign, which saw her take ninth-place in the classic race at the CCSA Championships as well as a pair of top-15 finishes in the Telemark SuperTour events.
“I had no idea she was going to be such a good skier last year,” head coach Dave Johnson said. “She surprised me that first race and continued all year. She is a soft-spoken young woman who seems to switch on something rare during a ski race. She is a warrior who doesn’t like to be behind you.”
The biggest question mark for the Blazers this year will be how well they can cope with the loss of three key figures to graduation. Katelyn Engel, Christi Nowak and Anna Roessler were all regular scoring skiers for the CSB team, and Engel and Nowak combined with Smith to take the team’s top three spots in both events at last year’s NCAA Regionals.
“They will be hard to replace,” admitted Johnson. “But our program has demonstrated the ability to help talented young women become strong skiers whatever their background.”
In 2011, the Blazers will likely look toward senior Stephani Seymour to fill the gap left by the departing seniors. Entering her fourth year racing with CSB, Seymour produced a string of positive results at the end of last year, including a 29th place collegiate finish with a solid 35:00.1 in the Telemark 10K skate.
“Stephani is our senior captain and I expect to see her in our top three,” Johnson said.
Seymour is just one of 15 women on CSB’s deep roster that will be fighting for travel spots as the 2011 season progresses, a list that includes first-year skiers Adriana Gabres, Emily Krulc and Robyn Hall. If any of that trio comes close to matching the impact Smith had in her first season, the Blazers could well be a dark horse in the CCSA.
“Our first-year women have been a delight to work with this fall,” said Johnson. “I expect Emily Krulc to break into our top five, and Robyn Hall will be our ‘diamond in the rough’ with her first experience skiing in the lower 48.”
“Our sophomore skiers, Hanna Zerfas and Caitlin Goodman are expected to be significant contributors this year as well. They have a new focus and have significantly increased their training over the past 18 months.”
College of Saint Scholastica Saints
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Head Coach: Chad Salmela (5th season)
Assistant Coaches: Josh Tesch, Andre Watt, James Kyes
Top men’s returners: Masco Basco, Waylon Manske, Jeremy Hecker
Top women’s returners: Eleanor Magnuson, Julia Curry,
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 4th, Women – 5th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 4th, Women – 5th
The College of Saint Scholastica has made steady progress over the five-year tenure of Chad Salmela, steadily building themselves into a solid team that looks a genuine threat in the CCSA in 2011.
“Both of our teams are better and deeper than we’ve ever been, and the focus of the group on success is palpable every day,” Salmela said. “I think there is more belief than ever that we can win as a team in a CCSA race, and we’ve never been there before. To see that in realistic terms is very motivating.”
The Saints will look for some senior leadership from Mason Basco. The St. John’s transfer earned all-region honors with his fifth-place finish at the 15K skate in the NCAA Regionals a year ago, matching his fifth-place finish in the 20K skate at the CCSA Championships. Basco was CSS’s co-leader with five top-ten finishes in 2010, including two top-fives.
Likewise, fellow senior Waylon Manske comes into the season with plenty of momentum. Manske also landed five top-ten finishes in CCSA competition last season: the second consecutive year he has accomplished that feat. Along with Basco, his eighth-place finish in the NCAA Regional skate race helped CSS to fourth-place in the team standings.
Already a solid skate skier, Manske has seen steady improvement in his classic technique over his three years with the Saints, culminating in a career-best seventh place finish at the Telemark 10K. If that trend holds, Manske will be a genuine contender for an NCAA spot in 2011.
“Waylon is absolutely at the highest level he’s ever been, and the three previous years of training have really given him a higher level of fitness than ever for this entire training year. As far as NCAAs go, we don’t worry about it: so much is out of your hands. You just have to go out every weekend and race the best you can, and if you should be at NCAAs, you will be.”
On the women’s side, Eleanor Magnuson comes off an outstanding sophomore campaign that saw her score five top-10 finishes in just her first season of CCSA competition. The junior, who transferred to CSS during the semester break, made an immediate impact, landing a women’s program-best fifth place finish in the Telemark skate race.
Magnuson’s season culminated with a pair of all-region honors, taking sixth in the 10K freestyle and eighth in the 5K classic in Houghton. In doing so, she became the first female skier to earn NCAA All-Region honors in Saints history.
“I can’t speak for Eleanor personally, but it buoyed the program to a new level,” Salmela said. “Her arrival here at semester break changed the dynamic of the women’s team: a positive, competitive change. I sense last season gave her confidence and showed her what she can do with a little more support than she was getting ski racing on her own.”
Senior Julia Curry, meanwhile, was just as consistent for CSS, taking eighth in the Wirth 10K mass start classic and ninth among CCSA skiers at U.S. Nationals. Curry finished a breakout season with six top-15 finishes.
Curry has wasted no time picking up right where she left off either, taking the top collegiate finish and 10th place overall in both the classic and skate races at the Grandview XC Challenge in December.
Magnuson and Curry both came within a whisker of the NCAA Championships, landing first and second alternate spots, respectively. Neither will want to be denied again in 2011.
But the depth of his two programs is what stands out the most to Salmela.
“We’ve literally got a dozen of really tough skiers who can pop in there,” he said. “Jeremy Hecker has had some impressive results as a sophomore, and I think he will continue to be one of our top skiers through the season. Mason’s brother Kasey, when he is on, is absolutely a threat in the CCSA as well. On the women’s side, Brooke Adams is very gifted, and Lindsay Wallis who is coming back after overtraining symptoms, is feeling better than she has while at CSS. Her innate ability to ski has me excited to see what she will do as she races into shape.”
Gogebic Community College
Location: Ironwood, Michigan
Head Coach: Will Andresen (2nd season)
Web Site: http://www.gogebic.cc.mi.us/athletics/nordic.shtm
Top men’s skiers: Ben Noren, Leif Gilsvik, Kyle Weber
Top women’s skiers: ?????
2010 CCSA Championships: n/a
2010 NCAA Central Region: n/a
Entering just its second season of CCSA competition, Gogebic Community College is still working toward building a solid foundation for its young program.
“We are just entering our second year, so we are focusing on building our team,” head coach Will Andresen said. “The focus of our program is preparing athletes to reach their skiing goals through lots of time on snow and individualized coaching attention. For many of our skiers, their goals are moving up to a four-year Division I or II team.”
If this year’s preseason is any indication, GCC are on the right track. Ben Noran scored top tens (OJ division) in both the 10K classic (ninth) and 10K freestyle (10th) at the Wolverine Ski Challenge in December. Teammate Leif Gilsvik took 24th and 23th in each of those respective events as well.
“Ben has been training extremely hard this fall and early winter after a strong summer program,” Andresen said. “Lief worked real hard in the fall and is really coming into his own now.”
“Having the two of them training with each other, along with our other skiers, has helped them both improve their game. I expect to see both of them finishing strong in the JO’s this season.”
Gustavus Adolphus College
Location: St. Peter, Minn.
Head coach: Jed Friedrich (7th year)
Assistant coach: Andy Rishavy
Top male returners: Jens Brabbit, Anders Bowman
Top female returners: Erica Hett, Danielle Burgmeier, Cassandra Brady
Web site: www.gustavus.edu/athletics
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 6th, Women – 7th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 5th, Women – 6th
It’s impossible to talk about the Gusties without mentioning the name Jens Brabbit. The senior finished the 2010 season as the fourth-ranked CCSA skier on the men’s side, and was one of only seven Division III skiers to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships last March.
Brabbit enjoyed an outstanding CCSA campaign last time out, which included a pair of NCAA All-Region honors and a podium spot for his third-place finish in the 15K skate at regionals. Brabbit, also the only Division III skier to land All-CCSA honors last season, earned fifth in the classic race in Houghton as well to go along with a fourth-place finish at the Telemark freestyle event.
“Jens and I were both really pleased with his overall season last year,” head coach Jed Friedrich said. “I was really proud of the way he progressed through January and February and kept a level head while competing for spots at NCAA’s. He went from being a bubble skier at the beginning of the season to a very legitimate NCAA qualifier over the course of the season.”
“He set a lot of all-time best results for our program, basically establishing every mark on the men’s side. Our goal is to return to NCAA’s and improve his results from last year. There’s a lot of racing to get there first, so we try to focus on the everyday work that will get us closer to his goals.”
But Gustavus are far from a one-man team, as Anders Bowman also landed a pair of top-20 finishes at NCAA Regionals a year ago. The Plymouth, Minn. native came in 14th in the 15K skate with a 41:41.7 time, and 18th in the 10K classic. Paired with a 12th-place finish in the Telemark skate race, the Gusties will hope Bowman can carry some of that momentum with him into the 2011 season.
“Anders could break out and establish himself as an NCAA contender at any point in the next two years,” Friedrich said. “He has all of the physical tools to mix it up with the contenders in this region.”
“There are a few guys who will most likely take turns as our third skier,” he added. “Andrew Poffenberger has good experience in the past two years as a third skier. Peter Larsen and Zach Wagner are also very strong candidates for our third spot. Our men’s team is deep enough that a few others could easily ski well enough to score points for us.”
On the women’s side, the return of sophomore Erica Hett gives the Gusties plenty to smile about. Hett was the surprise package of the CCSA Championships last season, landing a tenth-place finish in the 5K classic race in just her first season of collegiate competition. She then repeated her success at the NCAA Central Region Championships, taking all-region honors with another tenth-place result.
“Erica had one of the best rookie seasons at Gustavus, which is saying a lot with some of the NCAA skiers we’ve had here,” Friedrich said.“We certainly dialed in a few things that helped her ski faster last year, but most importantly was her passion for skiing. She has an exciting future ahead of her in skiing in the next three years.”
Hett has already kicked off her 2011 campaign in some style, leading the team with a tenth-place finish (classic) and a 12th-place result (freestyle) in the Grandview Classic races in Ironwood.
“Her skating has improved a lot over the summer,” said Friedrich, “and I think she will be just as strong as she was in classic races last year.”
Danielle Burgmeier had a solid season for the Gusties last season as well, establishing herself as a regular scorer for the team. Burgmeier took 24th in the classic race at the CCSA Championships, and 27th in both the classic and freestyle events at the Telemark stop.
“[Danielle] routinely steps it up at the end of the season in all of her sports,” Friedrich said. “I fully expect her to score some big points for us in February.”
Along with other returnees that include Cassandra Brady and Olivia Karns, the Gusties will look to Burgmeier to step up and help fill the gap left by the graduated Erin Eppler.
If these Gustavus women get going, they could easily propel the Gusties back into the upper echelons of the CCSA.
“Marian Lund, a first year from Duluth, looks like she will fill the spot of Erin Eppler pretty nicely,” Friedrich said. “She has taken turns with Hett as our top skier in the early races, so she is a huge addition to our program. Cassandra and Olivia could certainly take turns as our third skier throughout the year. Meredith Bache-Wiig also made some pretty substantial gains in her fitness over the summer, so she could move up in our top three as well.”
Michigan Tech Huskies
Location: Houghton, Michigan
Head coach: Joe Haggenmiller (9th season)
Assistant coach: Andrew Joda, Karl Walczak
Top male returners: Jesse Smith, Petter Sjulstad, Luke Gesior
Top female returners: Lynn Duijndam, Sarah Daniels
Web site: www.michigantechhuskies.com
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 1st, Women – 3rd
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 2nd, Women – 3rd
A new season brings a new look for Michigan Tech. After winning the men’s CCSA title last year, the Huskies faced a major overhaul after losing five NCAA qualifiers from the past few seasons, including both Oskar Lund and Henna Riikensen-Purtsi: the program’s only two representatives at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Despite the changes, it’s not likely that anyone in the CCSA will be taking MTU lightly.
For starters, the Huskies return junior Jesse Smith, a second-team All-CCSA member that narrowly missed out on an NCAA berth a year ago, as well as Petter Sjulstad. Both men placed in the top five in last season’s 10K classic at the CCSA Championships, with Sjulstad taking fourth and Smith fifth.
Sjustad also boasts NCAA Championships experience, having qualified for the showpiece event in his freshman season, while Smith earned two all-region honors last season.
“With Jesse, we certainly hope that he is able to be more consistent; that he can ski in the top 10 in the CCSA, and on his good days, place in the top five and be duking it out for the podium,” head coach Joe Haggenmiller said.
Michigan Tech’s chance of repeating as CCSA champs could well come down to depth, and what young guns step up for the Huskies. Matt Dugan, Sondre Sadivk, Matt Wong and Luke Gesior have all demonstrated their potential during their short time at MTU.
“We’ve got a lot of depth,” said Haggenmiller. “We’ve got guys that on their best days can be in the top five in our region. At the same time, they are young and they will have some ups and downs.”
“Sondre Sandivk was in the top ten in the classic at the Birke last year, and we have a transfer student from Finland, Mikko Harju, that I think will come right in and be competitive. These are guys that probably aren’t going to be on a lot of people’s radar.”
On the women’s side, replacing the impressive Riikensen-Purtsi, in addition to the departed Jenna Klein and Liz Quinley, remains on top of Haggenmiller’s to-do list for 2011.
The Huskies will have high hopes for sophomore Lynn Duijndam coming into the new year. Duijndam earned All-American honors at the Junior Nationals Championships in March, finishing just seven seconds off the pace on her way to fourth place in the 5K freestyle.
Sarah Daniels also turned some heads at junior nationals, turning in a 10th place finish in the classic race and a 12th- place showing in the skate event. Along with newcomer Malin Eriksson, who showed plenty of promise with a second-place finish in the classic race at the Michigan Tech Challenge in December, Duijndam and Daniels could well challenge for NCAA positions.
“Malin, Lynn, Sarah and Alice Flanders should be the ones leading our team,” Haggenmiller said. “Those four are the future of our team as we look down the road, but certainly they’ve got the talent to excel this year as well. Jill Smith has qualified for the NCAA’s as well, and she is still working for the level of fitness that she wants to be at.”
“Everyone wants one of those NCAA spots, but we are just focusing on trying to control what we can control. We can’t control what other teams in our region are doing, we just have to go out and do the best that we can do. At the end of the day, we could have one man and one woman at NCAA’s, or we could have five or six. It’s going to be very competitive this year.”
Northern Michigan Wildcats
Location: Marquette, Michigan
Head coach: Sten Fjeldheim (22nd season)
Assistant coach: Jenny Ryan
Top male returners: Martin Banerud, Kevin Cutts, Chris Bowler
Top female returners: Christina Turman, Monica Markvardsen, Marie Helen Soderman
Web site: webb.nmu.edu/SportsAthletics
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 2nd, Women – 1st
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 1st, Women – 1st
Regional powerhouse Northern Michigan seems again poised for success on the trails this season, boasting a talented roster on both the men’s and women’s side.
Just how deep are the Northern Michigan men? After being the only CCSA team to qualify a full team of three guys in 2010, the Wildcats welcome back a world class talent in Martin Banerud after the Norwegian took his redshirt year in 2010. Banerud has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of his three seasons of competition, earning two All-American honors in 2007 for a fourth-place finish in the skate race and a seventh-place mark in the classic. He also scored a pair of top-ten finishes at nationals in 2009 to go along with a NCAA Central Region crown in the 10K classic.
“[Martin] is in very good shape, and with his experience, we expect him to do very well this season,” head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “He is a great team leader.”
Along with Banerud, the Wildcats also feature Kevin Cutts and Chris Bowler, all of whom represented NMU at the NCAA event last season. Cutts finished the season as the CCSA’s fifth-ranked skier and recorded top tens in each event at the NCAA Central Region championships, taking eighth in the 10K classic and seventh in the 15K skate.
Bowler, meanwhile, stormed into the NCAA Championships in just his first season with the Wildcats. A strong, versatile skier, Bowler carved out a second-place finish in the regional classic race, taking sixth in the regional freestyle event as well. The Wausau, Wisc. native scored a top-ten in the skate race at the CCSA championships a year ago as well, taking seventh.
“Chris is one of the hard, most consistent young skiers that I have ever coached,” Fjeldheim said. “He is very light-hearted and has a great sense of humor, which is often overlooked in this sport. Kevin has a ton of natural talent and speed, and his endurance has improved as well.”
The Wildcat men have such strength in depth that they can afford to redshirt 2010 team MVP George Cartwright. Cartwright won the 15K skate at regionals and was second in the 10K classic at the CCSA championships a year ago.
On the women’s side, the Wildcats will have to fill the hole left by the graduated Laura DeWitt: the conference’s top skier a year ago.
Fortunately, Coach Fjeldheim’s team seems to have plenty of depth to help fill those shoes in 2011.
“Christinia [Turman] has become a more seasoned athlete along with her teammates Ingrid Fjeldheim and Marie Helen Soderman,” Fjeldheim said. “This trio will be ready this year – they are all three stronger and faster than last season.”
An adequate warning sign for the rest of the league, as Turman was the CCSA second-ranked skier in 2010, finishing only behind teammate DeWitt. Turman won the 10K freestyle race and finished just one second off the pace on her way to a second-place finish at the NCAA Central Region Championships a year ago.
The Fairbanks native also earned a podium spots in both events at the CCSA Championships, taking second in the 5K classic and third in the 15K freestyle.
NMU also returns sophomore Monica Markvardsen after a fantastic freshman season that saw the Washington native finish as the CCSA’s fourth-ranked skier.
Markvardsen turned a lot of heads with an impressive 14th-place finish in the 15K freestyle at the NCAA Championships last year, and turned in a solid 24th-place performance in the national classic race as well. Really finding her stride at the end of the season, she also found podium spots with second-place finishes at both the NCAA Central Region Championships freestyle as well as the CCSA Championship freestyle.
Joining Markvardsen will be junior Marie Helen Soderman. Soderman was the unfortunate NMU member to be left out of the NCAA squad a year ago: though her scores made her the seventh-ranked skier in the CCSA, she was not eligible since her three teammates (Gillis, DeWitt, Markvardsen) had already filled NMU’s quota. Rest assured, she will not want to be denied this time by.
“She learned from [not qualifying for NCAA’s] and became motivated. She improved big time in her strength and I see her as consistent force on the women’s team.”
Regardless, Soderman still turned in a number of outstanding results for the Wildcats in 2010, such as a sixth-place finish in the 5K classic at regionals and a fifth place finish in the CCSA Championships classic event.
A second-place finisher in the regional classic race as a freshman as well, Soderman certainly has the talent to make a big impact at nationals come March.
If those two weren’t enough, NMU also features the likes of Libby Ellis and Ingrid Fjeldheim, an excellent skate racer, as well, both of whom are more than capable of holding their own against the region’s top competition.
“I feel we have four potential NCAA All-Americans on this team on both the men’s and women’s team,” Fjeldheim said.
Saint John University Johnnies
Location: Collegeville, Minn.
Head coach: David Johnson (11th season)
Top returners: Jared Sundstrom, Ethan Evenson, Charlie Ward
Web site: www.gojohnnies.com
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 7th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 6th
After seeing some progress in 2010, the Division III Johnnies will face a major overhaul for the 2011 season. For starters Saint John’s will have to overcome the loss of Grant Cook, who finished as the team’s top skier in each of the team’s last four events, as well as Bob Gerten: both of whom are spending the semester studying abroad.
The Johnnies do return senior Jared Sundstrom, however. Sundstrom was the team’s top finisher in the 15K classic race at the Mayor’s Challenge SuperTour, and had an impressive 15th-place performance at the Telemark freestyle race.
The Proctor, Minn. native also scored for the team in the skate races at both the NCAA regional and CCSA Championships, taking 27th-place in the former.
“Jared is one of the senior captains,” head coach Dave Johnson said. “He has been focused and training well. I expect that he will be one of the team leaders on and off the ski trail.”
Ethan Evenson and Charlie Ward also bring some experience to the Johnnies, as both sophomores competed in every NCAA qualifier for the team a year ago.
“Ethan and Charlie are both sophomores, and now have a better understanding of how to train smarter while balancing the academic demands of college,” Johnson said. “They realize that they are in better shape and expect to race stronger every week.”
In addition, Saint John’s will feature a host of fresh faces, as four first-year skiers will be competing for spots on the travel roster, including Aurora, Minnesota native Kellen Witschen and Nate Engel.
“Kellen is my top first-year,” said Johnson. “He has the athletic ability, mindset, and training to become a strong freshman racer.”
“Nate Engel spent the fall running cross country where he had a strong season. I haven’t spent much time with him yet, but I expect that he too will be a strong freshman skier. He certainly has grown and matured from his senior year in high school.”
St. Cloud State Huskies
Location: St. Cloud, Minn.
Head coach: Jeremy Frost (10th season)
Top returners: Jenny Beckman, Hannah Sanborn
Web site: www.stcloudstate.edu/athletics
2010 CCSA Championships: Women – 9th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Women – 8th
A St. Cloud State team rich in experience will be looking to climb back out of the CCSA cellar in 2011. The Huskies boast four seniors and three juniors on their roster, while head coach Jeremy Frost has brought in a handful of talented first-year skiers as well.
“We have a large group graduating this year,” Frost said. “Our seniors have provided great leadership to our incoming student-athletes. Obviously we hope they can impart their knowledge about CCSA racing, race venues, racing and training philosophies, etc to our younger skiers.”
There were plenty of positive results to come out of 2010 for the Huskies. For starters, the Huskies produced an impressive showing in the Saints Invitational last January, grabbing second place in the standings over a trio of conference rivals: Gustavus Adolphus, College of Saint Scholastica and St. Olaf’s.
At the event, a 12K skate race on St’s John’s Trails, current senior Jenny Beckman earned a fourth-place finish with a time of 38:24. Beckman, the team’s MVP in her sophomore season, also took 20th place in the Telemark 5K Classic.
“Jenny will be one of our top athletes again this year,” Frost said. “She is extremely motivated and has a positive attitude about training and racing. I believe it is this attitude, and her strong work ethic, that has resulted in continued improvement each year. We have worked hard on improving her classic skiing and it is exciting to see that pay off in improved race results.”
Newcomer Hannah Sanborn, meanwhile, skated to a 19th-place finish at the Telemark 10K race and was the team’s top finisher in both the classic and freestyle races at the NCAA Central Region championships.
Entering only her second season of competition, Sanborn’s continued development could play a big role in the CCSA fate of the Huskies.
“Hannah had a great freshman season,” said Frost. “She is a huge part of our future. Her continued improvement in the classic races will help make her an all-around competitive skier in the CCSA. We will look for her to continue skiing strong and help compete for our top spot.”
Supporting Beckman and Sanborn will be a host of newcomers, including freshman Elizabeth Simak. The Hayward, Wis. native got her collegiate career off to a promising start, finishing as the team’s top skier in each of her first four events, including a fourth-place finish in the 5K freestyle and a 12th place finish in the 10K classic at the Wolverine Ski Challenge.
“Elizabeth obviously has had a great start to her season in West Yellowstone and Ironwood.” Frost said. “I think this is a testament to her solid training this summer and fall as well as to her strong motivation and desire to excel.”
“All of our freshmen are a great fit for our team and provide us with a bright future,” he added. “We look forward to our seniors continuing their efforts and fighting for a spot amongst the top three as well.”
“Overall, we have seen improvements from all of our skiers each year, so we are looking forward to another great season”
Saint Olaf College Oles
Location: Northfield, Minn.
Head coach: Mark Skildum (3rd season)
Top male returners: Tom Jorgenson, Brandon Piechowski
Top female returners: Emma Lee, Sarah Fleming
Web site: www.stolaf.edu/athletics
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 8th, Women – 8th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 8th, Women – 9th
After a somewhat disappointing 2010 season on both the men’s and women’s side, St. Olaf will be looking for a fresh start in the CCSA in the new year.
“Last year’s problems were mainly a result of a lack of depth,” head coach Mark Skildum said. “The women’s team didn’t score a complete team at either conference or regionals because of skier illness and injuries, and on the men’s side our No. 3 skier (Jens Matson) did not race a skate race after Christmas because of a back injury. With a large influx of freshmen talent this year’s team is much better equipped to handle the loss of a scoring skier.”
For the men, the Oles return senior Tom Jorgenson, who will serve as the team’s captain for the second straight year. A two time USCSA national champion, Jorgenson took 16th place among CCSA skiers in the 15K skate race at regionals a year ago: the team’s top finish over the two-day event.
Jorgenson was also the team’s top finisher in both events at the CCSA Championships a year ago, finishing 21st in the skate race and 22nd in the classic.
“Tom is in very good aerobic shape right now; his testing results are ahead of where he was the last two falls,” Skildum said. “We felt like he got out a little hot last year, skiing well early and fading a bit in February before coming up big at USCSAs so we have altered his training plan with the goal of more consistent results during the season.”
“Tom’s goal is to be in the mix for a NCAA qualifying spot by consistently finishing in the top-10 at CCSA qualifiers.”
Junior Brandon Piechowski is also back for St. Olaf. The Shoreview, Minn. native took the team’s top spot in the 10K classic at the Telemark stop, finishing 46th overall.
“Brandon raced all of last season with pretty severe tendinitis in his shin and ankle last season which severely limited the amount of roller skiing he was able to do this summer,” Skildum said. “This fall he and Tom have been able to push each other quite a bit more than in year’s past. This season I see him finishing in the top 15 pretty consistently, perhaps sneaking a top 10 in a classic race.”
They will be joined by a host of highly-decorated newcomers, including Joel Bransky and Elliott Hodgson. Bransky was an all-conference skier in both his junior and senior years at Duluth Central High School, while Hodgson, a four-year letter winner at Henry Sibley High School, earned all-conference honorable mention in his last two seasons.
“Joel Bransky is a diamond in the rough, he has a big engine and a lot of enthusiasm,
Skildum said. “If he continues to progress the way he has this fall I would not be surprised if he ends the season as a scoring member of varsity team.”
On the women’s side, a young Oles team return a number of top talents, such as St. Paul native Emma Lee. Lee finished her 2010 season on the strongest possible note, bringing home national titles in both the 8.5K freestyle and 15K classic races at USCSA Nationals.
Lee was the team’s top finisher in the both events at the NCAA Central Regional Championships a year ago as well, taking 21st in the skate and 24th in the classic races.
“Emma is a tough competitor and a very talented endurance athlete,” Skildum said. “She is still a little raw as a skier but she gets better every week. I think she will have most of her success in mass start races that reward head-to-head competition.”
Lee is joined by junior Sarah Fleming, who returns for her third season with the Oles. Fleming turned some heads by turning in the team’s top performance at the CCSA Championships’ 5K classic race, taking 26th with a time of 16:12.8.
Though Fleming will not race for the team in January as she participates in a study abroad program, she will return toward the end of the season to provide the team with a vital boost ahead of the big events.
“Sarah and Hillary Boyce, our two captains, are the glue that hold our team together,” Skildum said. “They are the social instigators and workout leaders. Sarah brings an aura of calm precision to the women’s team. I know that as long as she is around my women’s team will be warmed up, with their skis tested and to the start line on time.”
“She has shown consistent improvement since her freshmen year and I think she will have great results at conference and regionals.”
St. Olaf also head into the season with four first-year skiers, including the highly-rated Paige Schember.
“Paige will be our No. 1 skier on the women’s team this year,” Skildum said. “She has the potential to be in the top 5 of every CCSA race this season and has made the women’s team 20 points better by herself. Gretchen Mueller brings much needed depth and can step up to fill in when needed. Kelsey Cork has shown potential, especially in skate races.”
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Head coach: Scott Jerome (6th season)
Top male returners: John Parry, Tyler Kornfield, Erik Soderstrom
Top female returners: Theresia Schnurr, Raphaela Sieber, Rebecca Konieczny
Web site: www.alaskananooks.com
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 3rd, Women – 2nd
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 3rd, Women – 2nd
With a handful of proven racers returning and an outstanding recruiting class, the Alaska men certainly seem to be a team to watch in 2011.
Back for the Nanooks are senior John Parry and sophomore Tyler Kornfield, both of whom represented the Blue and Gold at NCAA nationals a year ago. Parry enjoyed his most consistent season with Alaska in 2010, earning fourth-place finishes at U.S. Nationals (20K classic) and regionals (15K classic) and didn’t place any lower than seventh among CCSA skiers in a single race.
“John has improved so much over the last few years,” Jerome said. “He has really gotten serious as an athlete, and has really stepped up as a leader. I am really proud of how he has developed.”
Kornfield, meanwhile, took second in the classic sprint races at U.S. Nationals last year, earning the U.S. championship title as teammate Erik Soderstrom, who is Swedish, was unable to claim the honor.
To an already deep roster, the Nanooks add freshman David Norris. The 19-year-old Norris turned a lot of heads with his fourth place finish in the 30K classic race at U.S. Nationals last year, 12 positions above any collegiate skier at the time. A versatile racer, Norris also took the top spot in the 15K classic race at the 2010 Junior Olympics, and finished runner-up in the event’s skate race.
“We are trying to set realistic expectations for David,” Jerome said. “He’s certainly one of the top racers in his age class. He’s someone who has just made the most of his training and loves to ski: just a ski racer through and through. We want to give him the space to develop and I’m excited to see what he can do this year as well as in the three years after this.”
Alaska also added Lex Treinen, a major coup signed from archrivals Anchorage. The junior has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of his two previous collegiate seasons, and already has two All-American honors under his belt, having taking second in the 2009 freestyle and ninth at the 2010 skate.
“The best thing about Lex, he has a smile on his face after every race,” Jerome said. “He is much better health-wise and just excited to be skiing well again. He’s a huge plus for the program.”
On the women’s side, it is a bit more open for the Nanooks, as they look for a third skier to step up and score points for the team.
A pair of Germans, Theresia Schnurr and Raphaela Sieber, give Alaska a solid one-two punch, and both will likely be serious contenders for an NCAA spot come March. Schnurr was a NCAA nationals participant and second team All-CCSA member a year ago, coming close to All-American honors with her 15th-place finish in the 5K classic at the NCAA Championships.
Sieber, meanwhile, demonstrated her potential with an impressive display at the team’s season-opening Alaska Nordic Cup competition, winning the freestyle and pursuit events on her way to an overall women’s champions honor.
“We knew Raphaela was going to be good,” Jerome said. “Seeing her in training and in local races around town, we knew we had something special. She is really getting into peak shape, and is very professional. She knows what she needs to do and makes sure she gets the job done.”
“I think its good for Theresia as well; it takes pressure off of her as far as being the No. 1 skier. It’s really going to help her this year knowing that she just needs to go out and ski her own race.”
Exactly who will accompany Schnurr and Sieber atop the Alaska depth chart, however, remains to be seen, though there are several good candidates, including Rebecca Konieczny and Marit Rjabov.
“We have a number of women who could step up,” said Jerome. “Rebecca had some really strong races at the Alaska Nordic Cup: probably the best I’ve seen her ski. And Marit has improved a ton from last year to this year. It’s going to be a battle and going to be interesting.”
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Location: Green Bay, Wisc.
Head coach: Nate Balk (1st season)
Assistant coaches: Steve Teclaw
Top male returners: Jeff Cook, Nick Maki, Kyle Fredrickson
Top female returners: Carolyn Freeman, Lindsey Marshall
Web site: http://www.greenbayphoenix.com/
2010 CCSA Championships: Men – 5th, Women – 4th
2010 NCAA Central Region: Men – 7th, Women – 7th
The 2011 season started on a sad note for Green Bay as the Phoenix lost their longtime coach Butch Reimer, who passed away in October after a lengthy battle with leukemia. Green Bay.
While he may not physically be with the team at the trails, there is no doubt that Reimer’s leagcy is stamped all over this team, from the quality of student-athletes he recruited to the lessons he taught them, both about skiing and about life.
The Phoenix men will attempt to regroup this year, both from the loss of Reimer as well as the graduation of Santiago Ocariz. Ocariz was the CCSA’s top point-getter in 2010, and earned All-American honors with a 10th-place finish in the NCAA freestyle race.
The task of filling those shoes will fall to the likes of seniors Jeff Cook and Nick Maki. Cook was the team’s top finisher in the 10K classic at regionals a year ago and, more recently, placed 11th in the same race at the Grandview Ski Challenge in December.
Maki also landed a top 20 finish at the Grandview races, carving out a 20th place finish in the 10K classic, and finished just behind Cook in the skate race, taking 22nd place.
Cook and Maki are joined by fellow seniors Kyle Fredrickson and Steven Gromatka as well as a host of underclassmen (three sophomore, three freshmen). That combination of youth and experience could compliment each other well as the CCSA season goes on.
On the women’s side, Carolyn Freeman has opened her 2011 season on fire, which means trouble for the rest of the CCSA competition. Freeman earned her first collegiate win in the 5K skate at Michigan Tech’s Husky Challenge, and took fifth in the classic race at the same event.
A 2010 All-CCSA first teamer, Freeman has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of her last two seasons, putting together an impressive 17th-place finish in the skate race last March. She also took fourth place in the freestyle races at both the Telemark and Wirth SuperTour stops last year, missing the podium in the latter by two seconds.
Fellow senior Lindsay Marshall seems a likely candidate to be a regular scorer for the Phoenix, alongside Freeman. Marshall seemed to get better as the season wore on in 2010, turning in a pair of impressive finishes in the 10K classic (15th place) and 5K skate (16th place) at the CCSA Championships.
Marshall also 15th overall in the 5K skate at the Wirth Supertour event, and finished seventh in the Telemark freestyle, helping the Phoenix to an impressive third-place team finish.