Three Qualify for U-23 Worlds After Wildcats Compete at U.S. Nationals

Three Qualify for U-23 Worlds After Wildcats Compete at U.S. Nationals

ANCHORAGE, Alas.—Northern Michigan University Nordic Skiing wrapped up the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships at Kincaid Park on Monday following four competitions over the past six days. After the completion of the event, three Wildcats qualified for the U-23 World Championships set to take place in Switzerland alter this month.

Qualifying for the U-23 World Championships on the men's side were sophomore Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, Minnesota) and junior Ian Torchia (Rochester, Minnesota). Junior Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, Minnesota) was the lone qualifier for the NMU women.

The trio will travel to Goms, Switzerland where the U-23 World Championships will begin on January 28 and last through February 3.

Last Wednesday at the US Nationals, the Wildcat women were lead in the 10-kilometer freestyle race by senior Vivian Hett (Burnsville, Minnesota) who finished 33rd with a time of 30 minutes, 22.10 seconds. Not far behind, senior Kristen Bourne (Lake Elmos, Minnesota) finished in 30:31.60 to finish 34th. Two more NMU skiers also finished in the top-100 in a field of 147 finishers.

In the men's 15-kilometer race, the Wildcats also placed four in the top-100 lead by Ketterson who finished 62nd with a time of 40:48.30 in the field of 178 skiers.

Moving to Friday, a pair of Wildcats placed in the quarterfinals of the women's freestyle sprints. Schneider led the NMU Skiers with a 19th-place finish, while she was also the eighth fastest NCAA competitor.  Junior Sarah Bezdicek (Osseo, Minnesota) was not far behind, placing 22nd as the 11th fastest NCAA skier.

Ketterson was the top finishing Wildcat in the men's race with a fourth-place finish in the finals of the freestyle sprints. The finish made Ketterson the top NCAA finisher in the event of nearly 200 total skiers. 

Sunday saw the classic style events including the women's 20-kilometer race. Hett again led the Wildcats turning in a top-20 performance, finishing 17th in 1:05.07.10. Bourne placed 21st, Schneider was 27th, and Bezdicek was 29th in the race.

Torchia led the NMU men as the 12th-fastest finisher with a time of 1:22:22.40. Ketterson was not fair behind with a time of 1:23:03.00, good enough 15th. Hipp rounded out the Wildcat skiers by placing 35th and finishing with a time of 1:39:16.30.

The final event of the week were the classic sprints held on Monday. Schneider again lead the women with a 14th-place finish followed by Hett in 16th. Turning in a top-25 performance in the field of 65 was Bezdicek who finished 24th. Bourne rounded out the NMU skiers in 27th.

Advancing to the finals, Ketterson was the top-finishing NCAA skier in the men's classic sprints, also, finishing sixth. It was the third event for the week where the junior was the top Wildcat finisher. Junior Leo Hipp (Forest Lake, Minnesota) and Torchia finished 43rd and 47th.

Next for the Wildcats, the team will travel to Cable, Wisconsin for the Birkie Start CCSA and Junior Cup Race. Classic Style events are scheduled for Saturday, January 20, while freestyle events will take place Sunday, January 21.