Fifteen of the Central Collegiate Ski Association’s fastest men and women skied in Thursday’s classic event at the NCAA Championships. The Steamboat Springs, Colorado setup was 5 kilometers for women and 10 for the men. It was the first day of Nordic competition at the championships, and the CCSA skiers were looking to prove themselves against the country’s top collegiate competition. In the women’s race, 3 CCSA skiers finished in the top 15. Although winner Antje Maempel (16:03) of the University of Denver may as well have been skiing a different course in her 47 second victory, the results tightened up for the rest of the top 20. Laura DeWitt led all CCSA women with an 8th-place result and received All-American status in the process. The Northern Michigan senior was just 12 seconds off the podium. Alaska teammates Aurelia Korthauer and Theresia Schnurr were next across in 11th and 15th, respectively. The duo led the Nanooks to a 7th-place team effort in the women’s portion of the race, the best such result for the CCSA. Monica Markvardsen of Northern Michigan was 24th, helping the Wildcats into 8th place with 52 points for the race. Henna Riikonen-Purtsi was 28th for Michigan Tech in the 39-racer field. Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman represented the Phoenix from 32nd. Christina Gillis, the CCSA’s top points-getter this season, took 37th for NMU to round out the women’s scoring. The University of Denver, with two women on the podium—Maempel and Mari Elden—was the top team in the race with 121 points. Rosie Brennan from Dartmouth took 2nd to round out the top 3. The CCSA men had a more disappointing result. University of Colorado skier Matt Gelso claimed the men’s title in 29:25, a commanding win of almost 25 seconds. Santiago Ocariz of Wisconsin-Green Bay was 13th on the 10-kilometer course, but no other conference skier cracked the top 20. John Parry of Alaska, who claimed the CCSA’s final qualifying spot, took 22nd, while teammate Tyler Kornfield took 25th. Right behind the Alaskans was Northern Michigan skier Kevin Cutts in 26th. His teammates George Cartwright and Chris Bowler, who have taken turns as the top Wildcat skier all year, were 28th and 30th, respectively. The 3 NMU skiers put the men in a CCSA-best 10th place for the race. Oskar Lund of Michigan Tech snuck between the NMU skiers in 29th. Jens Brabbit of Gustavus Adolphus was 34th, rounding out the conference skiers. The University of Colorado was the top team for the race with 111 points behind Gelso’s victory and another skier in 4th. University of Vermont’s Franz Bernstein was 2nd in the race, while Nevada’s Charlie Smith took 3rd. The University of Denver was in 1st after 2 days of competition, one of Alpine and one of Nordic, and had 420 team points. Northern Michigan was the top CCSA team, in 12th place of the 21 teams. Alaska-Fairbanks was 13th. The 15/20k freestyle race will wrap up NCAA championship competition on Saturday, March 13th. For complete results see ncaa.com.