Both the Gustavus men’s and women’s nordic skiing teams took fifth place at the Saints Hilltop Invitational hosted by the College of St. Scholastica on Saturday and Sunday in Coleraine, Minn. Each team combined for a total of 70 points – the men earned 34 points in Saturday’s 10K Freestyle and 36 in Sunday’s Classic, while the women garnered 31 points in the 5K Freestyle and 39 in the Classic.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks won the men’s competition with a combined 144 points on the weekend. Northern Michigan University took second with 137 points, while host St. Scholastica placed third with 116 points. In the women’s competition, Northern Michigan won with 143 points. Fairbanks was just one point behind for second and Michigan Tech. University took third with 129 points.
On Saturday, Erica Hett paced the Gustie women with a time of 13:14.0 for 14th place in the 5K free. Danielle Burgmerier was right behind in 15th with a time of 13:17.9. Annika Ferber took 32nd in 13:50.1, Meredith Bache-Wiig 35th in 14:01.5 and Megan Allen 38th in 14:16.1.
In the men’s 10K free, Anders Bowman led Gustavus in 14th place in a time of 21:48.1. Josh Blankenship took 39th in 23:25.6 with Peter Larson on his heels in 40th with a time of 23:26.0.
“On Saturday, we sat out Marian Lund because she was recovering from sickness,” head coach Jed Friedrich said. “But our other skiers stepped up nicely on the womens’ side. Erica Hett and Danielle Burgmeier led the charge. Anders had a very good race as he took fourteenth leading our men’s team.”
Sunday’s races consisted of 1.4K Sprint Qualifer races where the top 18 qualify out of the preliminary races to advance. Bowman was the only Gustie to advance out of the prelims in the men’s race. He finished in a tie for 13th in a time of 3:40.1 and posted a final ranking of 14th.
The women didn’t qualify anyone out of the prelims as Lund led the way in 20th place in a time of 4:33.0. Burgmerier took 22nd in 4:40.1, while Hett finished 23rd in 4:42.3.
“Anders broke one of his poles about 300 meters into the race, but those things happen in sprint racing,” Friedrich acknowledged. “The women raced solidly in twentieth, twenty-second and twenty-third. Our women should be stronger in the next couple of weekends as they get back to full strength. It was a great weekend for racing and we look forward to racing in Minneapolis and St. Paul the next two weekends.”
Next weekend, the men and women will travel to Minneapolis to compete in the USSA Super Tour for their second NCAA Qualifier of the season.