Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski and Fredrik Schwencke have been voted the Central Region’s Women’s and Men’s Athlete of the Year, respectively, by the CCSA coaches, the conference announced Monday. In addition, St. Olaf coach Tom Jorgenson collected the Women’s Central Region Coach of the Year recognition, while NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim earned the same honor on the men’s side.
Frankowski earned the region’s top honor after writing a magnificent final chapter to her Northern Michigan career. The one-time walk-on was the national runner-up in the 15K skate race at the NCAA Championships, earning first-team All-American status. Frankowski also took sixth in the 5K classic race at nationals (good for a second-team All-American trophy), and also landed the top spot in both the regional and CCSA Championship skate events.
Schwencke, meanwhile, exceeded all expectations with his stellar first season with the Green and Gold. Like Frankowski, the freshman also collected a pair of All-American spots at the NCAA Championships, taking 10th in the 10K classic before finishing sixth as part of a massive lead pack in the 20K freestyle race. Schwencke found his best form at the right time of the season, helping the Wildcats to both CCSA and regional team championships by landing podium places at both events at the CCSA Championships.
The region’s Women’s Coach of the Year, Jorgenson has overseen a steady growth in St. Olaf’s skiing programs over his two-year tenure at the helm, culminating in an NCAA berth (and subsequent All-American finish) for Paige Schember this season. Schember took seventh place in the 15K freestyle at the NCAA Championships, and finished the season as the region’s fourth-ranked skier on the CCSA points list.
“I’m surprised, honestly, to win this award,” Jorgenson said. “I’m very honored, and I’m grateful to the other coaches for recognizing the improvements our program has made, as well as grateful for the high standards they have set that I can follow and work towards as a coach.”
Not far removed from CCSA competition himself — he skied for the Oles before graduating in 2011 — Jorgenson believes that experience has helped shape and inform his coaching. “It helps me to connect with my skiers a little bit more, and understand what they are going through as students and athletes,” he said. “For example, I know Paige so well at this point that the NCAA Championships was almost easy; we both knew what we needed from each other.”
Fjeldheim, meanwhile, continues to add to his impressive trophy cabinet, guiding his men’s team to team titles at both the CCSA and NCAA Central Region championships this season. Fjeldheim sent a full compliment of three men to the NCAA Championships earlier this month, where he helped the team ring up a total of three All-American places.
In addition, Fjeldheim, who earned the region’s men’s and women’s Coach of the Year honors a year ago, was also named the CCSA’s Coach of the Year following the regional championships in February.