Northern Michigan’s George Cartwright and Alaska’s Marit Rjabov kicked off the first weekend of the CCSA championships in style, earning the top spots in the A finals of their respective skate sprints at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, Mich.
“It was a good day for us today,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “We had three guys in the A final, and I was really happy with the way George raced today. He just had a very controlled, smart race.”
After showing his sprinting ability by edging out a photo finish in the Saints Invitational classic race last weekend, Cartwright once again came out on top in the men’s final Saturday. Michigan Tech’s Raphael Bechtiger stormed out of the gates to an early lead, but Cartwright quickly closed the gap over the 1,650 meter course, eventually winning by a comfortable margin.
Saint Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker edged past Bechtiger as well, taking the silver medal spot for the fourth straight CCSA event: a remarkable display of consistency from the senior Saint skier. Bechtiger would take third in the event, followed by NMU junior Ben Hugus.
On the women’s side, Alaska’s Rjabov earned her first CCSA win of the season, holding off second-placed Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha in the women’s A final. Northern Michigan’s Elizabeth Simak took third in one of her best performances in Wildcat colors to date, followed by Michigan Tech’s Sarah Daniels in fourth, and NMU’s Jordyn Ross in fifth.
“Jordyn looked as good as anyone in the semifinal, and I thought she was going to be tough to beat,” Fjeldheim said. “Unfortunately, she just ran out of gas a little bit.”
Cartwright’s win and Simak’s performance ensure that Northern Michigan ends the first day of the CCSA Championships with a slight edge in both the men’s and women’s standings. The Wildcat men sit on top of the CCSA table with 73 points, followed by Saint Scholastica in second with 65 points with Michigan Tech just a point behind in third.
The NMU women, with 67 points, sit just about Michigan Tech’s 63 points – the Huskies sitting in second thanks to solid performances from Daniels, Lynn Duijndam and Deedra Irwin. Alaska sits third on the women’s side with 60 points.
The CCSA championships continue tomorrow with a classic relay event. The women’s 3 x 5K race kicks things off at 10 a.m. EST, followed by a men’s 3 x 10K at noon.
Full team scores
1. Northern Michigan: 67 points
2. Michigan Tech: 63 points
3. Alaska: 60 points
4. St. Scholastica: 48 points
5. Green Bay: 47 points
6. St. Olaf College: 40 points
7. Gustavus Adolphus College: 8 points
1. Northern Michigan: 73 points
2. St. Scholastica: 65 points
3. Michigan Tech: 64 points
4. Alaska: 54 points
5. Green Bay: 41 points
6. Gustavus Adolphus College: 33 points
7. St. Olaf College: 27 points