The 2007 NCAA Central College Regional Championships were contested this weekend at the Al Qual Trails near Marquette, Michigan. Hometown Northern Michigan University had strong performances nearly sweeping every race to reclaim the crown from 2006 Champions University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Saturday’s race was held in traditional Upper Peninsula weather with snow falling heavily and swirling in all directions and temperatures in the teens. The competitions were held on the challenging Olympic loop which many skiers commented as being the most challenging course of the season.
In the men’s 10km freestyle race, split times showed that, Martin Stuge Banerud (NMU) led the race from the start line, winning by 15.3 seconds in 31:26.7. CXC Teamates (non-collegiate) Bryan Cook, 31:42.0 and Andre Watt, 31:49.7 finished second and third. Cook was in the second position for most of the race, but Watt moved up from 6th positing at 5km. Completing the Northern Michigan sweep of the top 3 collegiate positions were Bill Bowler (NMU), 31:59.8 and Phillip Violett (NMU), 32:01.9
Martin Stuge Banerud: â€œI opened hard. Coach Sten gave me a split at 1.5 kilometers that I had the lead by 7 seconds. I was tired at the lap but focused on my technique and skiing well. At 6.5km I was 13 seconds in the lead. This was surprising but very encouraging. I went hard and pushed myself all the way to the line.â€
Andre Watt: â€œIt was one of the harder courses of the year. Not too far into the race it started snowing which slowed things down. This was one of the hardest courses of the year.â€
Bill Bowler: â€œThis was one of my better skate races. I started pretty conservative, but I got good splits which was encouraging. The last 2 kilometers were pretty tough for me and I lost some time there.â€
In the women’s 5km freestyle race, Lindsay Williams also led from start to finish, with a 9 second lead at 1.5km, according to splits. Williams won by 19.8 seconds in 17:39.0. The battle for second through fourth was tight throughout the race. In the end Lindsey Weier (NMU) was quickest in 17:58.8 to take second overall. Morgan Smyth (NMU) finished just one second back in 17:59.9 ahead of Maria Stuber (NMU) 18:06.9. Anna Coulter (UAF) finished fifth in 18:29.4.
Lindsay Williams â€œI started hard and just kept hammering. I was going as hard as I could. The down hills were hard, but funâ€
Sundays competition again saw temperatures in the teens, but with clear skies and sun. The race was held on the Teal Lake loop with steady gentle climbs. The women’s 10km mass start classical race was the first event of the day.
Lindsay Williams (NMU) and Lindsay Weier (NMU) had a commanding lead over the rest of the pack by the time they came through the lap at 5km. Morgan Smyth (NMU) skied by herself in the third position ahead of a pack of skiers containing: Aurelia Korthauer (UAF), Kristina Owen (MTU), and Tami Kochen (Atomic).
In the sprint for the line Williams and Weier went hard all the way to the line, with Williams edging Weier by one meter to take her second Regional title of the weekend. Smyth held her third position to the line. Owen had a gap after the final climb but Korthauer finished strong making a pass in the final 100 meters to take fourth overall.
In the men’s 15km mass start classical the pace started quick with six skiers: Marius Korthauer (UAF), Martin Stuge Banerud (NMU), Jesse Lang (MTU), Andre Watt (CXC), Vahur Teppan (UAF), and Brian Gregg (CXC) putting a gap on the main field in the first few kilometers. At 3km Banerud went down with a broken pole near the top of the course. At the lap the steady but quick pace put the lead group down to three skiers with Lang skiing alone a few seconds off the group. Watt made a move on the final climb but couldn’t shake Korthauer and Teppan who sprinted for the victory. Teppan edged Korthauer to win his first Regional title. Banerud and teammate Phil Violett (NMU) moved up on those dropping of the lead pack with Banerud catching and putting a move on Lang on the final climb. Violett finished 6th.
Vahur Teppan: â€œMarius did a lot of the work. I had good skis, with perhaps a little better glide than others. I was happy with the day.â€
Marius Korthauer: â€œI tried to push the pace. I was upset with yesterday’s race and I was racing for time today. It may not have been the smartest way to race, but I was happy with todayâ€
Martin Stuge Banerud: â€œI felt good and found myself in the lead at the start. I was surprised with this but just tried to stay with Marius. At 3km I moved behind Andre and fell and broke my pole. It was my mistake. Still I kept my focus and really pushed hard. It was probably the best classical race I have ever had. Unfortunately accidents happen.â€
Northern Michigan University won the men’s, women’s, and overall Regional Championship.