Torchia Brings Home National Title in Freestyle Race

Torchia Brings Home National Title in Freestyle Race

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Northern Michigan University Nordic Skiing junior Ian Torchia (Rochester, Minnesota) will return to Marquette from the NCAA Skiing National Championships with a national title in hand after a stellar performance in the men's 20-kilometer freestyle race in the final event of the national meet.

Torchia became the seventh NCAA Champion in Wildcat Nordic skiing history after being the first skier to cross the finish line Saturday afternoon in the 20-kilometer freestyle race. In ironic fashion, he drew bib number-one prior to the start of the race and would end up being finishing first. Torchia crossed the finish line with a time of 54 minutes, 21 seconds to earn the NCAA crown.

The last national champion for the Wildcats was Frederik Schwencke in the 20-kilometer classic in 2015, while the last freestyle champion for NMU was Eric Soderman in 2012. Now a four-time All-American, Torchia earned his second first-team honor of the week in the victory to add to his two All-America awards earned in 2016.

Sophomore Lars Soensterud (Oslo, Norway) and freshman Kjetil Baanerud (Oslo, Norway) also scored for the Wildcats in the freestyle race. Soensterud was the 13th-fastest skier in the event with a time of 54:58.40. With a time of 55:43.00, Baanerud also turned in a top-20 performance by finishing 18th in the field of 40 competitors.

All three NMU skiers also scored in the women's 15-kilometer classic race, led by senior Vivian Hett (Burnsville, Minnesota). Hett finished in 20th-place with a time of 46:34.30 after an All-American performance in Thursday's classic race.

Junior Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, Minnesota) and senior Kristen Bourne (Lake Elmo, Minnesota) rounded out the Wildcats skiers in 24th and 27th-place. Schneider completed the race in 47:22.80 with Bourne finishing in 47:42.80, respectively.

As a team, the men and women combined for 179 points which was the highest total among teams without alpine competitors. In the Nordic standings, the 179 combined points were fifth-most. Overall Denver University earned the team crown with 604 total points between alpine and Nordic events.

NMU ends the 2018 NCAA Skiing Championships with four All-America honors and an individual national title to conclude their NCAA season.