The powerhouses in the past for the Central Collegiate Ski Association have been Northern Michigan University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Michigan Tech University.
Add tiny Gustavus Adolphus College from St. Peter, Minn., to the mix.
The Gusties have qualified a maximum three women to the NCAA Skiing Championships March 5-8 in Bozeman, Mont.
Earning berths by virtue of their performances in eight CCSA-qualifying races this season were senior Laura Edlund (Forest Lake, Minn.), senior Kathleen DeWahl (St. Paul, Minn.) and junior Kelly Chaudoin (Ely, Minn.). That trio also led the Jed Friedrich-coached team to second place in the women's standings at last weekend's Central Region Championships.
Previously, GAC had only sent one skier to NCAA's in school history â€” Chandra Daw in 2006.
“It's really exciting for our team to be in this position,” Friedrich said by e-mail before his women locked up their berths. “Ever since our region expanded the number of qualifiers, I had a pretty good idea this group of women could do it. I actually proposed the challenge at the beginning of last season and they kept after it even when no one qualified last year.”
Edlund, DeWahl and Chaudoin were ranked sixth, seventh and 11th in the final points standings.
The CCSA had earned 11 NCAA spots for women. The maximum a school can qualify per gender is three, which meant Ashley Pletcher of Wisconsin-Green Bay snagged the final spot in 12th place overall.
NMU continued to dominate the conference, qualifying its usual three skiers in Morgan Smyth (first), Laura DeWitt (second) and Maria Stuber (fourth).
Smyth, who landed twice on the 2007 NCAA podium, edged DeWitt for the top spot by less than one point.
NMU's Tanya Cook was eighth in the region but fourth for NMU, so she missed qualifying.
Alaska also qualified three women â€” Aurelia Korthauer (third), Anna Coulter (fifth) and Elisabeth Habermann (10th overall).
MTU's Jenna Klein landed the remaining spot in ninth overall.
Five CCSA schools were represented among the 10 men who made NCAA's.
Alaska's Marius Korthauer easily led the way, having been beaten just once by CCSA competition all season. He's shooting for more podiums at NCAA's and perhaps a national championship if things go his way.
Following Korthauer as qualifiers were Martin Banerud (NMU), Phil Violett (NMU), Vahur Teppan (Alaska), Gus Kaeding (NMU), Jesse Lang (MTU), Santiago Ocariz (UWGB), Bjorn Bakken (St. Scholastica), Ray Sabo (Alaska) and Adam Airoldi (MTU).
Just missing out for the final berth were Tyler Kjorstad (CSS), Craig Hertz (UWGB) and Kevin Heglund (MTU).
Justin Singleton of NMU was also a tough-luck omission. He tied for sixth overall but was fourth for NMU â€” just one-tenth of a point behind Kaeding, who thus earned the berth.
The top overall rankings are as follows:
1. Marius Korthauer, Alaska, 115.5
2. Martin Banerud, NMU, 131.7
3. Phil Violett, NMU, 137.4
4. Vahur Teppan, Alaska, 141.9
5. Gus Kaeding, NMU, 157.0
6. Jesse Lang, MTU, 157.1
6. Justin Singleton, NMU, 157.1 (not a qualier)
8. Santiago Ocariz, UWGB, 165.6
9. Bjorn Bakken, CSS, 173.5
10. Ray Sabo, Alaska, 176.6
11. Adam Airoldi, MTU, 179.9 (final qualifier)
12. Tyler Kjorstad, CSS, 180.3
13. Craig Hertz, UWGB, 180.5
14. Kevin Heglund, MTU, 181.3
15. Tim Cook, NMU, 182.4
1. Morgan Smyth, NMU, 106.7
2. Laura DeWitt, NMU, 107.8
3. Aurelia Korthauer, Alaska, 113.9
4. Maria Stuber, NMU, 123.0
5. Anna Coulter, Alaska, 133.6
6. Laura Edlund, GAC, 145.9
7. Kathleen DeWahl, GAC, 155.9
8. Tanya Cook, NMU, 156.8 (not a qualifier)
9. Jenna Klein, MTU, 157.9
10. Elisabeth Habermann, Alaska, 164.9
11. Kelly Chaudoin, GAC, 168.2
12. Ashley Pletcher, UWGB, 171.3 (final qualifier)
13. Anna Berglund, NMU, 176.0
14. Shaina Short, St. Olaf, 179.6
15. Carolyn Freeman, UWGB, 179.7