Northern Michigan and College of Saint Scholastica skiers dominated the podium positions in the classic races at the Saints Invitational on Saturday, with the Wildcats’ Erik Soderman earning his second win of the season in the men’s 10K event and freshman teammate Hannah Boyer topping the field in the women’s 5K.
All told, Northern Michigan would ring up four of the six podium spots up for grabs at Giants Ridge, though hosts Saint Scholastica managed to nab the silver medal spots in both the men’s and women’s interval start events.
“It was a good day for us today,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “It was a really technical course – they’ve hosted the World Cup here before and it really keeps you on your toes. So we were pleased with how things went.”
The reigning NCAA champion in the free technique, Soderman showed his double poling wasn’t half bad either on Saturday, completing his 10K in 33:15.3 and besting his nearest competitor by nearly 20 seconds.
“It was a good classic race for Erik,” Fjeldheim said. “We’ve been working on changing his rhythm a little bit in classic races, and it went well today.”
Another participant at the NCAAs a year ago, Saint Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker, earned a silver medal for the second consecutive race. The senior, who was named the CCSA skier of the week last week, kept a pace of 2:53 per kilometer to finish the race in 33:35.2.
Northern Michigan’s Chris Bowler took third with his time of 33:54.5 – a second straight podium finish for him as well – while St. Scholastica’s John Wessling turned in one of the best races of his Saints’ career to earn fourth place overall, in 34:17.8.
Michigan Tech’s Luke Gesior skied his way into a top-five finish, taking fifth overall with a time of 34:23.5. Northern Michigan’s third scoring skier, George Cartwright, continued his steady season for the Wildcats’ with a sixth place finish as well.
St. Scholastica’s Scott Johanik finished as his team’s final scoring skier, taking seventh overall in 35:10.2. Michigan Tech’s Thomas Kendrick posted the conference’s eighth-best time – the freshman from Minnesota earning the first top-ten of his young career in 35:11.6.
A pair of Saint Scholastica skiers rounded out the top ten, as Nick Power and Chris Parr placed ninth and 10th, respectively. The Saints’ made home course advantage count, finishing with five of the top ten skiers on the men’s side.
On the women’s side, Northern Michigan’s Hannah Boyer earned her first collegiate win, as the freshman sailed through her 5K in 19:15.3.
“Hannah looked really good today,” Fjeldheim said. “Technically, she was pretty good, there’s still some work we have to do. But when you get a bib on her, she’s just really competitive – that’s her biggest strength.”
St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, quietly becoming one of the most consistent performers in the CCSA, landed her best-ever conference finish on Saturday, finishing just ten seconds behind Boyer for a second-place result.
Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross grabbed the conference’s final podium spot, as she bested a pair of Wildcat teammates to earn third place. Teammate Mary Kate Cirelli was unfortunate to miss out on her first ever podium spot. The freshman earned fourth place with her time of 19:49.0 – just six-tenths of a second off of Ross’ pace.
Northern Michigan’s Malin Eriksson took fifth place, stopping the clock in 19:50.8 to ensure the Wildcats nabbed four of the top five places on the women’s side.
Gustavus Adolphus College’s Erica Hett turned in her best race of the young season to grab sixth place, crossing the line in 20:03.7. St. Olaf’s Paige Schember earned seventh place in the CCSA, and eighth overall, in 20:13.1.
Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha landed her team’s top finish on the day, placing eighth in the CCSA and ninth overall, while NMU’s Rosie Frankowski (ninth) and Michigan Tech’s Sarah Daniels (10th) rounded out the CCSA’s top ten.
The CCSA skiers return to Giants Ridge tomorrow for the final day of the Saints Invitational, which begins with a 15K mass start skate for women at 10 a.m. CST, followed by a 20K mass start freestyle event for men at noon.