The CCSA/NCAA regional championships kicked off today at Al Quaal recreation park in Ishpeming, MI. The 5 and 10 kilometer individual start skate races saw abnormally warm temperatures, causing the snow to soften and deteriorate as the day went on.
The day began at 10am with the women’s 5k skate race. As temperatures held steady well above freezing, Northern Michigan’s Sophie Schimpl stormed her way to first place and her first Regional title with a time of 13:50.7. Ten seconds back from Schimpl, was Saint Scholastica’s Kelsey Dickinson in second place. Dickinson’s second place finish is also the best placing by a Saints women at a Regional championship according to Saints coach Chad Salmela.
“This is the most memorable ski race I’ve ever had,” said Dickinson of her performance. “Including biathlon.” Dickinson raced two seasons internationally as a member of the junior and senior US Biathlon Teams before returning to St. Scholastica this year.
Coming in a strong third place, another ten seconds down to Dickinson was Michigans Tech’s Andrea Lee. Right behind Lee by less than a second was Northern Michigan freshman Sophie McDonald in fourth.
The women of the University of Alaska Fairbanks were operating like a well-oiled machine today placing fifth, sixth and seventh with Nichole Bathe, Anne-Tine Markset and Sarissa Lammers all coming in with less than five seconds separating all three racers. This performance was good enough to place UAF in second on the day with 57 points behind Northern Michigan University’s 62 points.
Northern Michigan’s third scorer, Caroline Brisbois, wasn’t far off the women of UAF in eighth. Saint Scholastica’s Elizabeth Evans followed in ninth and Northern Michigan’s Vera Gruber rounded out the top ten.
The team podium is still up for grabs as all of the team scores are very close heading into tomorrow’s 15k classic mass start. Northern Michigan leads with 62 points, they are followed by UAF, 57 points and Saint Scholastica in third with 52 points and they are followed very closely by the women of Michigan Tech with 51 points.
On the men’s side of things, the temperatures remained well above freezing causing the conditions to soften as more and more racers lapped the course for the 2 lap, 10k race.
Northern Michigan’s Jake Brown stomped his authority all over the men’s race to take his first ever regional title finishing with a time of 24:36.6, a full minute and four seconds ahead of Michigan Techs Kyle Hanson who took second on the day.
“I’m super happy for both Jake and Sophie today” said Northern Michigan Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “For both of them to take not only the individual regional title, but have it be their first time doing it is just amazing!”
The men of Northern Michigan followed in the footsteps of their women’s team by placing in the same exact places with fourth, Sam Elfstrom, and eighth, Krystof Kopal, to give them the team lead with 62 points after day one.
Michigan Tech solidified their second place team score of 58 points with strong performance behind Hanson with Gaspard Cuenot in sixth and Didrik Fjeld Elset in ninth.
The fight for third, fourth and fifth in the team scores is a close one at the moment with the University of Alaska Fairbanks leading the charge with 49 points by taking fifth, Max Donaldson, tenth, Alexander Eckert, and eleventh, Michael Fehrenbach. As we look to fourth and fifth we have a tie after day one between Saint Scholastica and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. The Saints were led by Reitler Hodgert in third, missing out on second overall by 0.2 of a second, while Matt Nichols led Green Bay in seventh.
Each team will be looking for crucial points tomorrow as they try to better their position in the team scores with 15 and 20k mass start classic races.
For a full list of results and team scores please visit superiortiming.com.