All three NCAA divisions have completed racing for the regular season, and teams now prepare for the NCAA Championships the weekend of March 14th in Rumford, Maine.
CCSA – Central Region Championships
by Matias Saari
Pierson, Ocariz win first Central Region ski titles
At the top of the penultimate climb on Sunday in Houghton, Mich., five Nordic skiers were still grouped together and in contention for the NCAA Central Regional Championships women’s freestyle title.
At the crest of the final climb, Julia Pierson of the University of Alaska Fairbanks made sure there was only one.
Pierson, a junior who redshirted last year, broke away between 8-9 kilometers and won the 10-kilometer mass-start event at the Michigan Tech Trails in 33 minutes, 17 seconds.
Her twin sister, Anna Coulter, then outsprinted Laura DeWitt of Northern Michigan University to finish one second ahead of her in 33:27.
Kelly Chaudoin of Gustavus Adolphus College (33:35) and Ingrid Fjeldheim of NMU (33:37) rounded out the top five.
The result was redemptive for Pierson and Coulter, who placed just 12th and 19th, respectively, in Saturday’s 5K classical technique race won convincingly by DeWitt. But it wasn’t a total surprise, as the pair typically excel in freestyle races and have each been NCAA All-Americans.
The event, held at a temperature of 15 degrees, also featured a handful of elite club skiers who claimed the first four spots. Olympian Lindsey Dehlin won easily in 31:53 followed by three skiers from team CXC.
The race was last of nine qualifying events used to determine which 11 women and nine men will earn berths at the NCAA Skiing Championships March 11-14 in Rumford, Maine. That team will be named Monday.
In the men’s 15-kilometer race, Santiago Ocariz, a junior from Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Jesse Lang of Michigan Tech waged a good battle. Ocariz, who was sixth in the same race a year ago, won in 42:52, with Lang 11 seconds back. Sindre Stokke of NMU was a distant third, followed by Oskar Lund of MTU and NMU’s Justin Singleton.
NMU’s Martin Banerud, who edged Lund by a mere 0.4 seconds on Friday in the 10K classic, did not start Saturday’s race.
CXC skiers Brian Gregg and Bryan Cook took the top two overall spots, with Gregg 20 seconds ahead of Ocariz.
In the team standings, Michigan Tech edged NMU by one point in the men’s freestyle race, but NMU prevailed for the two-day men’s title, 181-178. UWGB was third in 134.
For the women, UAF won the freestyle Sunday with 92 points to 88 for NMU.
NMU, however, claimed the overall championship with 183 points. UAF was second with 163, followed by MTU with 152.
NMU (364), MTU (330) and UAF (288) took the top three spots when combining men’s and women’s team scores.
Banerud and DeWitt win Central Region classic ski titles
Laura DeWitt of Northern Michigan University defended her classic-technique title at the NCAA Central Region Championships on Saturday in Houghton, Mich., by cruising to an easy 5-kilometer win.
DeWitt’s time of 17 minutes, 33 seconds was nearly a half-minute faster than teammate Marie Helen Soderman (18:00) on the Michigan Tech University Trails.
The thinnest of margins decided the men’s 10-kilometer crown, as NMU’s Martin Banerud edged Michigan Tech University’s Oskar Lund by 0.4 seconds. Banerud won in 29:58.9 while Lund clocked 29:59.3 and defending champion Phil Violett of NMU was third in 30:14.4.
In the team standings (comprised of all the schools in the Central Collegiate Ski Association), NMU’s men have a narrow margin so far over MTU (93-89) while NMU’s women are comfortably ahead with 95 points to MTU’s 82.
EISA – Eastern Championships/Colby Carnival
by Lincoln Benedict
Day 1 – 5/10km Classic
Kingfield, ME: Mother Nature has thrown some curve balls to the carnival circuit this year but the first day of the Colby Carnival, also the Eastern Championships, takes the cake and eats it with howling winds, pounding rain, and sunshine interspersed.
Through the tumult the reigning champion, Dartmouth, yet again took the lead on the first day with a very assertive 491 points. Following up second was Middlebury with 369 points while the University of Vermont was nipping at their heels with 364 points.
On the Nordic side of events Dartmouth took both of the victories in the Men’s and Women’s 10k and 5k classic events. Glenn Randall clocked the winning time of 31:59.9 while Rosie Brennan proverbially blew the competition completely out of the water by clocking a 19:11.8, over a minute and a quarter ahead of her nearest competitor.
Following the trail of fire scorched by Brennan was Colby’s very own Lucy Garrec with a time of 20:32.2. In third was Caitlin Patterson from the University of Vermont clocking a 20:40.8. On the Men’s side Middlebury’s Simeon Hamilton slid into the second spot with a 32:07.4 while Dartmouth skier Patrick O’Brien garnered third with a 32:11.6.
Day 2 – 15/20km Freestyle
Kingfield, ME: Middlebury may have claimed the individual wins but the Dartmouth Nordic teams took the overall win during Saturday’s Nordic Events at the Sugarloaf Touring Center, contributing to Dartmouth’s massive 755 point total with Middlebury and the University of Vermont following with 582 and 560 points respectively.
With the Alpine events canceled due to hazardous snow conditions, the spotlight turned to the Nordic events. While the alpine racers may not have been able to add to their team’s totals point wise they made the trip down to the Nordic center and contributed volumes of cheering the likes of which have yet to be heard this season. The races were also quite exciting with the frozen course yielding very fast conditions as well as many a broken pole.
Triumphing for the men in the 20k freestyle was Middlebury’s Simeon Hamilton, completing the course in a time of 54:30.4 followed by a pack of Dartmouth skiers headed by Eric Packer who was a mere half second back for second place with a 54:30.9. Following Packer was Patrick O’Brien, clocking in at 51:31.3, less than a second behind Hamilton.
For the Women’s 15k freestyle, Middlebury’s freshman Elise Moody-Roberts came out on top with a winning time of 48:11.1. Yet again a Dartmouth pack followed close behind with Sophie Caldwell only four tenths off with a 48:11.5. Only six-tenths behind Caldwell was another Dartmouth skier, Hannah Dreissigaker, who laid down a 48:12.1 for third place.