A pair of newcomers announced their arrivals in the CCSA in style, as Alaska’s Nicole Bathe and Northern Michigan’s Adam Martin both claimed the region’s top spot in the distance classic event at the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow Resort in Utah. Bathe completed her 10K in 32:01.2 to earn 19th place overall, while Martin sailed through his 15K in 40:40.8 to finish with a share of 15th place.
Both freshmen, and competing in their first official CCSA event, Bathe and Martin showed remarkable composure to not only battle through elite competition, but also to handle the altitude as well: at nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, Soldier Hollow approaches the legal altitude limit for Nordic skiing competition.
“To finish in the top 30 at U.S. Nationals is impressive, but to get into the top 20 is really just incredible,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “It’s huge for our programs to have someone finish up there. That’s how high the level of competition is out here.”
Earmarked by head coach Scott Jerome as one to watch this season, Bathe lived up to expectations, turning in a mature performance in her first CCSA event. The Wisconsin native stayed within the top 20 throughout the race, finishing 19th overall and claiming the conference’s top spot.
Following Bathe, a flood of Northern Michigan skiers crossed the line next for the CCSA, including sophomores Mary Kate Cirelli and Hannah Boyer – a sign of the depth and young talent competing in the region this season. Cirelli took second in the CCSA and 23rd overall as she begins her quest for a return visit to NCAAs, while Boyer took the bronze medal spot and 30th overall in a time of 32:46.4.
Fellow Wildcat Felicia Gesior turned in the conference’s fourth-best time, placing 42nd overall in 33:21.1, edging teammate Rosie Frankowski by just a tenth of a second; the Northern Michigan senior forced to settle for 43rd overall.
“Overall, our women had a good day today,” Fjeldheim said. “Mary Kate, Hannah and Felicia all raced really well. Rosie started a little too fast and was never able to recover, but a lot of skiers here made that same mistake today, and she’ll learn from it.”
An impressive performance by Paige Schember saw the St. Olaf skier land a sixth-place finish in the region and 45th overall, followed by Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders, whose time of 33:41.6 earned her 53rd place. The Huskies’ Sarah Daniels (59th overall), along with Alaska’s Heather Edic (63rd) and Michigan Tech’s Lynn Duijndam (73rd), rounded out the region’s top ten.
On the men’s side, Martin turned plenty of heads in his CCSA debut, pacing himself with a steady start before rising as high as eighth during one split to earn his top 15 finish.
“Adam had an awesome day today,” Fjeldheim said. “It’s really just awesome for him to get in the top 15, and bodes really well for his chances of qualifying for the Junior Championships in February.”
Alaska’s Logan Hanneman, an NCAA qualifier in 2013, took second in the region, and 24th overall, with his time of 41:17.4 in the individual start event. Northern Michigan’s Kyle Bratrud earned his way onto the CCSA podium as well, placing third in the region and 33rd overall despite struggling with his skis.
“Kyle’s skis were a little slow – otherwise, he would be up there in the top 20 as well,” Fjeldheim said.
Alaska’s second scoring skier, Jonas Loffler, grabbed fourth in the CCSA with his time of 42:15.0, while Michigan Tech’s Jay Woodbeck got his season off to a fine start as well, placing 39th overall to land the region’s fifth position.
Looking to put a challenging and injury-shortened 2013 season behind him, St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer earned the region’s sixth-place spot; his time of 42:39.0 putting him 45th overall. St. Olaf skier Jake Brown continued his fine form as well, placing 55th overall, just ahead of Michigan Tech’s Kyle Hanson, in 57th. St. Scholastica’s Chris Parr and Northern’s George Cartwright rounded out the CCSA top ten with their 60th and 66th place finishes, respectively.
The CCSA skiers now hit the Soldier Hollow trails for a freestyle sprint tomorrow prior to their next NCAA qualifier, Wednesday’s distance skate event.
For complete results, please visit http://summittiming.com/races/race_results.php.