Alaska kept up its impressive start to the CCSA season, sweeping the podium on the men’s side and landing two more top-three finishes on the women’s in the freestyle events at the Saint Scholastica Hilltop Invitational.
Nanook senior John Parry earned his first collegiate victory in the men’s 10K race, nipping teammate Ray Sabo by less than 2.5 seconds. Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman, meanwhile, dominated the women’s 5K skate: her 17:32.5 time a good 15 seconds better than her nearest competitor.
“My hat’s off to Carolyn Freeman today,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said afterwards. “She had a great race.”
With the absence of Northern Michigan due to illnesses in the team and a reshuffled Alaska pack thanks to European competition, the Hilltop Invitational had a bit of a different look than the season-opening U.S. Nationals a week ago.
The Nanooks did not miss a beat, however, as Parry, Sabo, and Alex Morris took the men’s top three spots with a blistering pace. Parry and Sabo, both natives of Whitehorse, Canada and old friends, both hammered through the Marshall School course at a 3:02 per kilometer rate.
“It was a good day for us today,” Jerome said. “I was really proud of John Parry, it’s great to see him on top of the podium. It was really fun to see him and Ray battling: it was really tight throughout the race.”
“There’s no doubt about it; on a long road trip, people can start to get a little stir crazy,” he said. “But there’s no tonic like success. It was good to go out and have good ski races today to lighten up the mood.”
Morris, who was just flown in from Fairbanks this week to compete, wasn’t far behind either, finishing the course in 30:34.3 (a 3:02 per kilometer pace) for a solid third-place finish.
Behind him, Gustuvas’ Jens Brabbit took fourth with a 31:22.7 time – the senior showing signs that he will again be a serious contender for an NCAA spot come February. Michigan Tech’s Finnish import Mikko Harju scored a fifth-place finish in his first collegiate race as well, finishing with a time of 31:36.6.
Hosts St. Scholastica landed two of the next three spots in the standings, with Waylon Manske taking sixth and Jeremy Hecker taking eighth. Three other Alaska skiers rounded out the top ten, with Cody Priest finishing seventh and Lars Arneson (ninth) just beating Erik Soederstroem (10th) to the line by two-tenths of a second.
Green Bay’s Nick Maki (11th), St. Olaf’s Tom Jorgenson (13th), and St. John’s Jared Sundstrom (14th) all landed the top spot for their respective schools.
On the women’s side, the story of the day was Freeman. The senior earned her first CCSA victory of the young season in impressive fashion, setting a 3:30 per kilometer pace. Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber overcame an early fall to hammer her way back to second place, completing the course in 17:48.3. Fellow Nanook Theresia Schnurr rounded off the podium with a third-place finish in 18:16.8.
“I was glad to see Raphaela battle back after a fall, that really says a lot about her,” Jerome said. “Theresia had been battling a cold all week. She did well but I think she is certainly capable of skiing better.”
Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders, who had the CCSA’s best result in the junior 10K skate at U.S. Nationals, kept her momentum going with a solid fourth-place finish on Saturday. Flanders’ time of 18:26.4 put her just nine seconds off the podium, while St. Olaf’s Paige Schember took fifth with her 18:35.8.
Heather Edic crossed the line as Alaska’s third scoring skier, landing a sixth-place finish in 18:46.8. St. Cloud’s promising young skier Elizabeth Simak finished seventh, earning the team’s top spot with a 18:50.6.
St. Olaf’s Emma Lee (eighth), Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha (ninth), and Michigan Tech’s Kristen Monahan (10th) rounded out the top ten on the women’s side. Twelfth-place Erica Hett and fourteenth-place Megan Smith had the top finishes for their schools on the day (Gustavus and College of St. Benedict, respectively).
The CCSA skiers return to the Marshall School course tomorrow for the final day of the St. Scholastica Hilltop Invitational, with a men’s 10K classic race set to get underway at 11:00 a.m. and a women’s 5K classic to follow at 1:00 p.m.
For more information about the CCSA and it’s 11 member schools, please visit www.ccsaski.com.