NMU’s Erik Soderman wins national championship at first day of NCAAs

CCSA News, Race Results

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman claimed the national championship with a dominant performance in the men’s 10k skate, and three CCSA skiers (all from NMU) earned All-American honors in the first day of racing at the NCAA Championships.

Soderman’s sister, Marie Helen Soderman, finished as the region’s top finisher on the women’s side, collecting a second-team All-American spot with her 10th place finish in the women’s 5K race, while Wildcat teammate Kjell-Christian Markset took ninth place at Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center.

“We are really happy with our results today,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “It was a real team effort – everyone worked really hard, from the athletes to the assistant coaches and the alumni that showed up to help out. We are really excited with how things went today.”

The story of the day, however, belong to Soderman. The Sweden native, who also won both events at the NCA regionals last month, was tied for sixth after the first 5K: a good 13 to 14 seconds out of the lead. Soon after, however, he turned on the jets and never looked back, winning the race by a substantial 25 second margin over his nearest competitor.

“Erik really knows how to pace himself,” Fjeldheim said. “It really fits his personality – he’s an even-keeled, level headed guy and just has a great work ethic.”

Markset took ninth place with his time of 26:10.9 – an impressive performance from the true freshman, who had little experience racing at altitude prior to this event.

Saint Scholastica’s duo of Paul Schommer and Jeremy Hecker turned in solid performances in their first NCAA Championship appearance as well, taking 15th and 16th place, respectively, in the interval start race. Alaska freshman Logan Hanneman finished as the Nanooks top skier, taking 22nd place in 27:01.8.

Northern Michigan’s third skier, Chris Bowler, took 33rd, completing his 10K in 27:40.2, while Alaska’s Tyler Kornfield (37th) and Michigan Tech’s Mikko Harju (38th) rounded out the CCSA field.

On the women’s side, Soderman led the CCSA charge with her time of 15:10.5, earning her an All-American award in her final skate race for the Wildcats.

“It was a super positive day for Marie,” Fjeldheim said. “She had a heck of a race today.”

Northern Michigan teammates Monica Markvardsen and Molly Burger were next across the line for the region, with Markvardsen landing 18th spot in 15:34.8 and Burger taking 26th in 15:53.4.

Michigan Tech freshman Deedra Irwin took 29th spot in 16:06.8, and a trio of Nanooks skiers rounded out the field: Raphaela Sieber finishing 33rd, Marit Rjabov 35th, and Heather Pitney 39th.

The CCSA skiers now have a day off before returning to Bohart Ranch for their final event of the 2012 season on Friday – a 20K mass start classic for men, starting at 9 a.m., and a 15K mass start classic for women, at 11 a.m. The event will be broadcast live at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.