Northern Michigan men, women sprint into first on Day 1 of CCSA Championships

ISHPEMING – Northern Michigan University head Nordic ski coach Sten Fjeldheim said he often doesn’t recruit sprinters since the NCAA only holds championship events in the distance races.

Turns out, he recruited a number of sprinters after all.

The Wildcats’ men’s and women’s squads both finished first in the 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprints on Saturday during Day 1 of the Central Collegiate Ski Association Championships at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming.

“It was a good day for us today,” NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “We had three guys in the A final, and I was really happy with the way George raced today. He just had a very controlled, smart race.”

Northern’s three male scorers all finished in the top 10, with George Cartwright placing first, Ben Hugus fourth and Erik Soderman sixth to give NMU 73 points.

College of St. Scholastica is eight points back and Michigan Tech nine back heading into the second round of competition, which begins today at 10 a.m. at Al Quaal, featuring the three-person women’s 5K and men’s 10K classic relays.

All three Wildcat women placed in the top 10, as well, with Elizabeth Simak taking third, Jordyn Ross fifth and Rosie Frankowski 10th overall in the sprints, which began with individual preliminaries, followed by semifinal and final heats.

“Jordyn looked as good as anyone in the semifinal, and I thought she was going to be tough to beat,” Fjeldheim said. “Unfortunately, she just ran out of gas a little bit.”

The NMU women lead Tech by four points, 67-63, while Alaska is third with 60 points.

The Nanooks’ Marit Rjabov was the top female racer on Saturday in the freestyle sprints.