The Gustavus men’s nordic skiing team will travel to Grand Rapids, Minn. to compete in the second Central Region NCAA qualifier of the season. The qualifier will take place at Mt. Itasca with the freestyle race on Saturday, January 22 and the classic race on Sunday, January 23. Other schools that will compete in the meet are UW-Green Bay, Northern Michigan University, Michigan Tech University, St. Olaf College, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Saint John’s University, St. Cloud State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth and the College of Saint Benedict.
Four skiers will be competing in their second race of the season while the rest of the Gustie squad will be competing in their first race of the season. Andy Rishavy, Jon Miller, Danny Kueffer and Nate Porath competed in the first qualifying race of the season in Park City, Utah January 5-6. The qualifier was held in conjuction with the U.S. National Championships. The best skiers in the country were there including the U.S. National Team and the best college programs from all divisions.
Andy Rishavy was the top performer in Utah earning valuable points toward qualifying for the NCAA championships. Rishavy placed 97th out of 232 competitors in the 10km classical race. He was the 13th skier from the central collegiate region and was the top division III skier from the region. Rishavy becomes the first Gustavus skier in the program’s history to finish in the top half of the field at the U.S. Nationals Championships.
In the freestyle race, Rishavy placed 15th for central collegiate skiers placing 140th out of 209 competitors overall. Danny Kueffer also scored NCAA qualifying points by placing 20th out of the central region skiers.
Seniors Erich Ziegler and Nate Porath are the top returners for the men this season. Ziegler claimed the classic and freestyle titles in last season’s MIAC Championships and also scored well at the NCAA qualifying races. First-year head coach is impressed with Ziegler’s efforts in the off-season. “Erich really worked hard over the summer to improve his standings in the region. On most days, Erich sets the training standard at practice,” Friedrich commented.
Nate Porath finished the 2004 season with top ten performances at the NCAA Central Region Championship. Coach Friedrich stated, “Nate has worked diligently on his technique over the past three years and his detailed work is showing with great technique.” Friedrich looks to the seniors to have good battles, as well as leading the team against strong Division I and II competition.
Upperclassmen Andy Rishavy, Jon Miller and Dan Kueffer will compete for the third and final scoring position on the team. Coach Friedrich felt that newcomers Lorin Skoglund and Nils Ohlsen will also challenge for the final scoring spot.
The team’s training conditions have been challenging with little snow accumulation in the area. However, this has not slowed down coach Friedrich’s squad. “My skiers have worked really hard all summer and fall by rollerskiing, running and bounding with poles,” Friedrich commented. “Not having snow doesn’t stop us from training 2-3 hours a day. Luckily we have been able to get on snow a few times in the Twin Cities on man made snow. We have held rollerski time trials to help stimulate racing conditions to prepare us for the opening races in January.”