An impressive display of depth saw hosts Northern Michigan capture the men’s, women’s and overall team titles at the CCSA Championships in Ishpeming, Mich. The Wildcats’ Rosie Frankowski and Mary Kate Cirelli teamed up to pull away from the rest of the field to capture the top two spots in the women’s 15K mass start skate race, while Kyle Bratrud and Fredrik Schwencke took silver and bronze, respectively, in the men’s 20K event. Alaska’s Logan Hanneman captured his second individual title of the weekend, edging Bratrud in the men’s race to boost the Nanooks to second in the men’s and overall team standings.
“Our team really came together today and showed our depth, and that’s critical to winning team events,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “I think we were just tired and needed a little bit of a break after Senior Nationals, so we got some good rest and good training last weekend, and everyone really responded well to that.”
Having raced a limited CCSA schedule this season after competing for the U.S. Ski Team at the U23 World Championships, Frankowski showed she hadn’t missed a beat, combining well with teammate Cirelli to set the pace early and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field. The duo never looked back, with Frankowski claiming her second win of the CCSA season. Cirelli, finishing just under two seconds behind her teammate, earned her second podium spot of the CCSA Championships, having won the women’s classic race on Saturday.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure about Rosie racing today, but she talked me into it,” Fjeldheim said afterwards. “She skied a really solid race and never really redlined it. And having her up there was good for Mary Kate as well – her and Rosie really feed off each other.”
St. Olaf’s Paige Schember turned in arguably her finest race of the season, earning her first podium spot with a third-place finish in 36:38.5. St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, an NCAA qualifier last season, looks to get back in the hunt this season as well, earning a fourth-place finish at the Al Quaal Recreation Area on Sunday. Northern Michigan’s third skier, Hannah Boyer, crossed the line in fifth, meaning all three of the Wildcats’ scorers finished in a top-five position.
Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha was next across the line; her pace of 37:06.3 good for sixth-place, followed closely by a pair of Michigan Tech competitors – Alice Flanders wrapping up seventh in 37:09.5 and Deedra Irwin eighth just under five seconds later. Alaska’s Aly McPhetres and Heather Edic rounded off the top ten.
On the men’s side, it was a bit of deja vu from Saturday’s classic race as Hanneman, Bratrud and Schwencke all occupied the same podium spots Sunday as they did 24 hours earlier. Sticking with a lead pack of around eight skiers for most of the race, Hanneman made his move at the final climb, eventually edging NMU’s Bratrud by 1.4 seconds to claim his second CCSA Championships title.
Bratrud, in turn, held off teammate Schwencke by five-tenths of a second to take silver: his sixth straight podium finish. Freshman Schwencke continues his late charge for an NCAA spot with his third-place finish, completing his four laps around the 5K track in 40:25.
“Fredrik had his best skate race of the year today,” Fjeldheim said. “His strength is his classic skiing, so it was good to see him up there today.”
St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer returns to the top five with a fourth-place result on Sunday, while St. Olaf’s top skier on the day, Jake Brown, took fifth. All told, only 6.2 seconds separated the top five positions.
Alaska’s Michael Fehrenbach was next across the line, capturing sixth in 40:45.9, with George Cartwright not far behind in seventh (40:48.2). A pair of Michigan Tech Huskies, Raphael Bechtiger and Matt Dugan, along with Green Bay’s Matthew Nichols rounded out the top ten on the men’s side.
Sunday results meant that Northern Michigan comfortably captured the women’s team title; its 133 points nearly 40 better than second-place St. Scholastica’s, who finished on 95. Michigan Tech took third with 92 points. A little bit tighter on the men’s side, however, though Northern’s 129 points ensured it again took the top spot, ahead of Alaska (118) and St. Scholastica (96). The Wildcats’ combined score of 262 was more than enough to wrap up the overall team title, with Alaska second on 201 points and St. Scholastica third on 191.
The CCSA skiers now head to Houghton, Mich. for the NCAA Central Region Championships and the final two NCAA qualifiers on Feb. 15-16. For full results and team scores from today’s event, please see http://my1.raceresult.com/details/index.php?page=4&eventid=24797&lang=en.