College of Saint Scholastica Saints
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Head Coach: Maria Stuber
Assistant Coaches: Josh Tesch, Reitler Hodgert, Bryan Cook
Top women’s returners: Sharmila Ahmed, Anita Kirvesniemi, Kelsey Dickinson
2014 CCSA Championships: Men – 3rd, Women – 2nd
2014 NCAA Central Region: Men – 3rd, Women – 2nd
The College of Saint Scholastica anticipates 2015 as a season to seal its place as one of the top teams of the CCSA. The winter of 2014 saw the Saints women ski to second at both the CCSA Championships and the NCAA Regionals, while the Saints men finished third at both events.
Coach Salmela is looking forward to the upcoming season and hopes that his women’s team will stay healthy and avoid injury. If they can manage that, then “the Saints women should be as strong as in 2014,” says Salmela, who will be without 2014 graduates Brooke Adams, and Sarah Allen, the Saints’ first CCSA champion. Nevertheless, the team has “a lot to be excited about,” says Salmela.
Leading the Saints this season will be seniors Anita Kirvesniemi and Sharmila Ahmed. Salmela believes Ahmed should be a contender in the CCSA at every race, while Kirvesniemi returns to the Saints after a strong summer of training with her “time trials looking good in the fall.” The Saints will also be boosted by the return of Kelsey Dickinson, back from a hiatus with the US Junior World’s Biathlon Team, and Salmela calls her fall fitness “profoundly better than at any time prior.” The team will be further boosted by the return of Chelsey Youngberg, Ellie Evans, and Liz Peterson as well as incoming freshman Allison Ternes of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. All in all, Salmela says, “I’m very excited about the potential of this team!”
For the Saints men the “big shoes to fill are that of Scott Johanik and John Wessling who graduated last season,” says Salmela. The team will also be without Chris Parr, All-CCSA 2nd team in 2014, and who is not using this year of eligibility. Nonetheless, Salmela is confident that the team has several skiers poised to fill their shoes.
The Saints men will be led by Paul Schommer who finished 8th in the 2014 NCAA Championships and became the program’s first All-American in Nordic skiing. He gained further experience over the summer by training at US Biathlon “X” Team camps, and earned himself a spot on the National Biathlon Development Team. Schommer, who is taking the fall semester off to focus on biathlon, is expected to return to the team this winter “in a great position to compete at the top of CCSA,” says Salmela. Nick Power, Jake Richards, and Joe Dubay return to the Saints in great fitness, and Salmela believes that St. Scholastica’s men’s team “should be at, or nearly the same strength as last season.”