2020 Season Preview

CCSA News |  

A new ski season is on the horizon and teams around the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) Region have been preparing for the opening races in December.  The CCSA consists of six women’s programs and five men’s programs- a combination of DI, DII, and DIII teams.

One big highlight this racing season includes the U.S. National Championships hosted in Houghton, Michigan. This is a huge advantage for Midwest athletes for qualifying for trips such as the Junior World Championships and U23 World Championships (and possibly the World Cup being hosted in Minneapolis this spring?) as last time U.S. Nationals were in Houghton, ten Midwest athletes qualified for international trips.

Last season, Northern Michigan University led the CCSA Region, with the College of Saint Scholastica’s men’s and women’s teams leading the fight for the Division III programs. Out of the twelve athletes who represented the Central Region last year at NCAAs, only five return, and with lots of new athletes throughout the season, expect results to be shaken up this season. Another noticeable difference this year is that the Central Region will compete for eight men’s spots and seven women’s spots (a jump up from six spots per gender last year) for the NCAA Championships, capped at three athletes per team. Each team around the conference has been working hard to show up prepared for the season opener, December 14th in Duluth.

University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB)

UWGB Skiers rollerskiing this fall

UWGB Skiers rollerskiing this fall

Jeremy Hecker is coming off of a successful first year as the UWGB Head Coach, after sending Sadie Peterson to the NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vermont last spring. Hecker has an impressive resume, spending time at both Williams College and Stratton Mountain School as an assistant coach, along with being a head coach with the Endurance United Club in Saint Paul. UWGB has two new members on the team this season: Jackson Alder, a successful junior skier from Green Bay, WI, and Lara Ketterer from Titisee-Neustadt, Germany. As they gear up for the season, UWGB is ready to build on their success this year. “We had a great ‘duathlon’ time trial this fall” Hecker said, “It was roughly 4x5km switching between skate and classic roller skiing. Athletes were also required to switch boots in addition to poles/skis so it made it a lot more interesting. Ryan Mead had our fastest times, but Shad Kraftson ended up winning because of his efficiency during the exchanges!” Expect Kraftson to lead the UWGB charge, along with Peterson and Tom Woolhouse, and do not be surprised if the UWGB ups the number of athletes they send to NCCAs this year.

St. Cloud State University (SCSU)

SCSU Skiers in Cable last year

SCSU Skiers in Cable last year

Mike Schroden is in his second year as the head coach at SCSU and is working on rebuilding the program. Schroden has had over ten years of coaching experience with nearby high school programs such as St. Cloud Cathedral High School and Sartell High School. He also worked in the Nordic Ski Industry for over two decades and is a professor at St. Cloud State. Despite having a small team, SCSU is looking to grow as a unit of skiers, and they hope to grow and better their program. Returning skiers to look out for are Jamie Herridge and Anna Stockinger, who Schroden says, have been continuing their growth as skiers and working on their all-around ski skills. Usually having to train on a small man-made section, SCSU got caught up in one of the early winter storms that hit Minnesota this year. “We were blessed with the snow gods this year and have been on natural snow at our full training loop. So happy!” Schroden

Saint Olaf College

St Olaf skiers on the first snow of the fall

St Olaf skiers on the first snow of the fall

Kevin Brochman returns for his eighth year as the head coach at Saint Olaf. Brochman is originally from Stillwater, Minnesota, and before he became a coach, he was an accomplished skier, competing at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Brochman was on the US ski team for three years and had twenty-five top ten finishes at US National Championship events.

Based out of Northfield, Minnesota, Saint Olaf comes off of a year of strong finishes at the US Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships, and they aim to have their skiers improve on the points list this season. Top returning skiers include Kieran Mullen, Tyler Radtke, Spencer WareJoncas, Henry Wortman and Peter Carlen on the men’s side, and Stephanie Bales, Erica Meyers, Dana Pflughoetf and Lucia Wyland on the women’s side. This group of skiers hope to gain a spot in the NCAA Championships this season and are working hard to do so. “The favorite workout is to see 16 smiling faces at 6:15 AM for morning rollerskis on campus” Brochman says.

College of Saint Scholastica (CSS)

CSS skiers on their home course in Duluth

CSS skiers on their home course in Duluth

Based in Duluth, the College of Saint Scholastica has had great improvements under Maria Stuber, who is in her third season as Head Coach at CSS. Not only has Stuber coached three athletes to NCAAs, but she is also a former NCAA athlete herself, and was inducted into the Northern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame this fall with her own college teammates. CSS sees the most team growth this season, with twelve new men and nine new women. Considering that CSS is returning almost their full varsity squad, this will be a team to watch. Stuber says that the group is starting to work together to elevate the team as a whole. “The team is very strong in technique sessions, where focus, open-mindedness, and effort have become a cool part of our culture”. On the men’s side, CSS will be led by Emil Book Bratbak, Jack Christianson, Tamer Mische-Richter, and Nick Matelich. On the women’s side, expect to see Nicole Gilman, Samantha Benzing, and Rana Kraftson to led the women’s squad but keep an eye out for freshmen Mae Barns, Emma Stertz, and Maja Peterson to contribute as well.

Northern Michigan University (NMU)

NMU skiers classic skiing some intervals this winter

NMU skiers classic skiing some intervals this winter

The NMU Ski Team has historically seen a lot of success, led by Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim – but massive changes have been made this season as five of the six NCAA skiers from last season have departed or are red-shirting.  NMU hopes to field a full roster (three men and three women) for this year’s NCAAs and earn as many All-American as possible. NMU’s sole returner, Kjetil Bånerud has two top twenty finishes and one All American title under his belt from the last two seasons, so expect him to lead the NMU team in the charge, this season. NMU’s assistant coach, Andy Keller also stated that last year’s NCAA alternates, Nadine Matter and Mathias Aas-Rolid should be strong contributors, but with eight new athletes on the squad, no spot is certain. “Everyone on the team realizes that there are NCAA spots up for grabs so there has been a lot of good hard work being put in over this summer and fall to earn one of those spots”. NMU is hosting NCAA Central Regionals this year, and they are hoping to win a team title on their home course, along with defending last season’s College Cup win they earned as the top college program at US Senior Nationals.

Michigan Technological University (MTU)

MTU skiers racing a mach sprint on their US Championship course

MTU skiers racing a mach sprint on their US Championship course

MTU has the strongest batch of returning skiers out of the whole conference, and with four additional women and three additional men, the team is working hard to improve upon previous season’s results. The top two returning women from last year’s CCSA points lists, Sarah Goble and Amanda Kautzer hold three top twenty performances at last year’s NCCAs together, and look for them to improve on that as MTU hopes to see All-American finishes from both Women’s and Men’s team at the 2020 NCAA Championships. The men’s side is just as strong, as Patrick Acton, Reid Goble, and Mitch Delong will be a trio to be reckoned with. Michigan Tech has a goal to win both the CCSA Conference Championship, and the NCAA Central Regional Championship overall as a team, and finish in the top eight as a program at NCAA National Championships. The team also has ambitious academic goals as they hope to have the most USCSCA All-Academic honorees of all NCAA Nordic Ski Teams and maintain about a 3.5 cumulative team GPA. When asked about what has been one of their favorite workouts this past fall, Head Coach Tom Smith replied, “A skate mach super sprint we did with our Thanksgiving Ski Camp on our new U.S. Cross Country Championship sprint course! Excited to feature new racecourses for all of our 2019-20 MTU host Nordic events”.