COLERAINE, Minn. - Northern Michigan and Alaska skiers dominated the podium spots at the first day of the Hilltop Invitational, with the Wildcats’ Molly Burger claiming her first collegiate win in the women’s 5K skate and Alaska’s Tyler Kornfield taking the top spot in the men’s 10K freestyle event.
All told, the Wildcats put two skiers in the top three in both the men’s and women’s events, giving them 76 points on the day and a six point lead over Alaska (69 points) in the team standings heading into Sunday’s classic events.
Burger set the pace on the women’s side, completing her trek around the Mt. Itasca course in 11:48.5 – good enough for a comfortable three and a half second victory over Alaska’s Marit Rjabov, who followed up an impressive performance at last week’s U.S. Nationals with a silver medal finish on Saturday.
Northern’s Monica Markvardsen, an NCAA qualifier in 2011, took third place, finishing just two-tenths of a second behind Rjabov with a time of 11:52.2. Another NMU sophomore Jordyn Ross, was next across the line, nipping Michigan Tech’s Lynn Duijndam, who landed her best finish of the young season with a fifth-place result in 11:54.5.5.
Alaska freshman Aly McPhetres continued to turn heads with her sixth-place finish, followed by a pair of Northern skiers in juniors Libby Ellis and Marie Helen Soderman. Alaska’s Crystal Pitney (12:03.4) and Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin rounded out the top ten.
On the men’s side, Kornfield carried over his momentum after an impressive stay at U.S. Nationals, where the junior took the CCSA’s top spot in the 30K classic and earned a national championship by topping the podium in the classic sprints. On Saturday, Kornfield cruised to an 11-second win, finishing his 10K race in 20:32.9.
Northern Michigan freshman Kjell-Christian Markset continued to prove his pedigree as well, storming to a second-place finish in 20:44.3. The Wildcats Erik Soderman earned the final podium spot, showing the form that led him to a NCAA berth a year ago by taking third place in 20:55.2.
An outstanding race by St. Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker saw the junior cross the line in fourth place, while Northern’s third-scoring skier (and third racer in the top 5), Chris Bowler, finished fifth in 21:23.6.
Michigan Tech welcomed back the returning Mikko Harju, as the Finn took sixth in 21:25.2. Alaska freshman Logan Hanneman continued to state his case for an NCAA position with a seventh-place finish, while another Husky, Michigan Tech’s Jesse Smith, took eighth in 21:30.2.
Northern Michigan’s Kevin Cutts and Alaska’s Ludwig Schott rounded out the top ten on the men’s side.
The CCSA competitors return to the Mt. Itasca course again tomorrow for a classic sprint, with the men’s individual start qualification kicking off at 10 a.m., followed by the women’s qualification at 10:30 a.m.
For more information, please visit the CCSA website at www.ccsaski.com.