The Gustavus men’s and women’s nordic ski teams both overcame obstacles to post successful finishes in the classic on the final day of competition at the Mayor’s Challenge, which was held on Sunday at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, Minn. The men secured a fourth place finish in the event amongst Central Collegiate Ski Association teams while the women finished in sixth place to wrap up a productive weekend for the Gusties.
Skiing for the second consecutive day without standout Jens Brabbit, the men’s team stepped up to the occasion in the 15k classic. Anders Bowman logged an 18th place finish with a time of 42:53.8, while Zach Wagner placed 23rd in 43:33.9 and Gabe Hanson finished 25th with a time of 43:49.6.
“Our men skied amazing considering the fact that Jens didn’t race. Our top three guys really stepped up and did exactly what they needed to do,” said head coach Jed Friedrich. “For them to finish fourth in the region without our top guy is huge. Gabe is steadily improving and probably had his best race of the season today.”
The women overcame difficulties of their own as injuries and crowded racing conditions combined to create problems for the Gusties in the 10k classic. Despite the team’s struggles, Erica Hett crossed the finish line in 17th place with a time of 33:27.8, while Marian Lund finished in 26th place in 35:02.2 and Danielle Burgmeier turned in a 28th place performance in a time of 35:19.3.
“We had a really good day as a team today. The girls held together to finish ahead of St. Scholastica even though they faced some adversity,” said Friedrich. “Erica had some issues with her back seizing up during the race, but she still skied very tough for us. Marian battled through a huge field to find position and then got caught in heavy traffic right before the end, and Danielle Burgmeier bounced back after a tough day yesterday to ski really strong as our third scoring skier.”
In its final tune-up before the CCSA Championships, Gustavus will send a select number of skiers to compete in the NCAA Qualifier to be held in Houghton, Mich. on Saturday and Sunday while the rest of the team will race on Friday at the Minnesota Relays in St. Paul, Minn.