Wildcats Finish Strong Week at U.S. Distance Nationals

Wildcats Finish Strong Week at U.S. Distance Nationals

CRAFTSBURY COMMONS, Vt.—Northern Michigan University Nordic Skiing competed at the week-long U.S. Ski & Snowboard SuperTour Finals and L.L. Bean U.S. Long Distance National Championships that wrapped up on Wednesday. The Wildcats competed against some of the world's best skiers including a number of athletes that completed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Freshman Daniel Streinz (Hersey, Maine) excelled on the first day of competition by finishing as the top amateur skier in the men's classic sprints. Streinz led three Wildcats skiers to place in the finals with a seventh-place performance. sophomore Mathias Aas-Rolid (Redalen, Norway) and sophomore Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, Minnesota) also placed in the finals, finishing in 11th and 26th, respectively.

Also, with many of the world's top skiers competing, junior Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, Minnesota) was the top finishing Wildcat in the women's classic sprints finishing 33rd overall.

Saturday began with the men's 15-kilometer freestyle race, which saw a pair of NMU skiers place in the top-20 in the field of 116 competitors. Freshman Kjetil Baanerud (Oslo, Norway) finished his three laps in 36 minutes, 51.80 seconds to finish 17th as the second-fastest amateur in the field. Not for behind, Ketterson was 19th with a time of 36:53.50.

Five Wildcats finished in the top-50 of the women's 10-kilometer freestyle race, led by Schneider and freshman Julie Ensrud (Saltnes, Norway) finishing 26th and 27th, respectively. Schneider finished her two laps in 28:54.00, while Ensrud crossed the finish line in 28:54.60. Senior Vivian Hett (Burnsville, Minnesota), senior Kristen Bourne (Lake Elmo, Minnesota) and junior Sarah Bezdicek (Osseo, Minnesota) also placed in the top-50.

Mixed technique and gender relays took place on Sunday with NMU fielding three different teams. The top Wildcat relay team finished eighth with an overall time of 57:40.90. That team was made up of Ketterson, Hett, junior Ian Torchia (Rochester, Minnesota), and Schneider. The other two teams finished 12th and 15th out of 30 teams.

Distance events began on Tuesday with the women's 30-kilometer classic race. Hett was the top Wildcat skier earning a top-20 finish. The senior placed 19th with a time of 1:34:57.60, finishing less than 10 minutes of the top time. Bourne finished about one minute behind Hett with a time of 1:36:01.00, good enough for 22nd.

Three NMU men's skiers placed in the top-20 of the 50-kilometer classic race on Wednesday. Torchia was the top Wildcat finisher placing ninth with a time of 2:35:17.70. Ketterson and Baanerud finished behind him in 12th and 17th, respectively. In the junior boys 30-kilometer race, Streinz finished 14th.

NMU finished their NCAA season earlier in March with a fifth-place finish among Nordic teams at the NCAA National Championships. Their 179 points were the most among teams without alpine programs at the national meet. Additionally, the Wildcats earned four All-America awards, including a national title by Torchia.