NMU on top as Liebner, Freeman win at CCSA Championships Freestyle
Northern Michigan sits atop both the men’s and women’s leaderboard after the first day of racing at the CCSA Championships in Ishpeming, Mich. The Wildcats swept the podium in the men’s 10K skate, and put each of their three scoring skiers in the top 8 in the women’s 5K event.
Andy Liebner continued his outstanding 2011 season for the Wildcats with a dominate victory at the Al Quaal Trails on Saturday. The junior crossed the line in 29:24.8 – over a minute and 20 seconds faster than his nearest competitor.
NMU freshman Erik Soderman enjoyed one of the best finishes of his young career, taking second, followed closely by teammate Chris Bowler to round out the Wildcat-heavy podium.
Alaska’s Alex Morris earned fourth place with his 31:11.3, while Michigan Tech’s Mikko Harju secured another top-five finish for himself with a 31:28.3.
Saint Scholastica also enjoyed a fine day at the trails on Saturday, led by the sixth-place finish by Jeremy Hecker. Hecker, who completed his 10K in 31:36.4, was one of the Saints two top-ten finishers on the day: Waylon Manske grabbed tenth with a 32:08.6.
Alaska’s John Parry took seventh with a 31:48.2, followed by Northern’s Martin Banerud (eighth) and Gustavus Jens Brabbit (ninth).
On the women’s side, it was the usual suspects racing for the top spot, with Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman again showing her ability in the freestyle discipline by earning the victory in 17:23.4. Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber wasn’t far behind, taking second in 17:28.6.
Northern’s Christina Turman rounded out a tightly-contested fight for podium positions, finishing just under four seconds behind Sieber for third place.
Alaska’s Theresia Schnurr continued her push for an NCAA berth with a solid fourth-place finish, crossing the line in 17:44.8. Northern’s Marie Soderman earned 26 points for her team as the Wildcats second scoring skier, taking fifth.
A pair of Michigan Tech skiers earned spots in the top ten, as the Huskies continue to look sharper as the season progresses. Alice Flanders landed sixth-place in the event with her 18:04.7, followed by teammate Lynn Duijndam in seventh in 18:20.5.
Libby Ellis came in as Northern’s third-scoring skier, taking eighth place in 18:24.1. Teammate Monica Markvardsen and St. Olaf’s Paige Schember rounded out the top ten on the women’s side.
Behind a dominant performance on the men’s side, Northern holds a comfortable 15-point advantage over second place Alaska going into the final day of the CCSA Championships. Saint Scholastica sits third, followed by Michigan Tech, Gustavus, Green Bay, St. Olaf’s, and Saint John’s.
On the women’s side, Ellis’ finish gives the Wildcats a four-point advantage over Alaska, who themselves hold just a four-point edge over third-place Michigan Tech. Green Bay sits fourth, followed by St. Olaf’s, St. Cloud State, Saint Scholastica, Gustavus, and College of Saint Benedict.
The CCSA skiers return to action tomorrow for the mass start classic race at the Al Quaal Trails.