The Gustavus men’s nordic ski team placed fifth overall at the NCAA Central Region Skiing Championships held Saturday in Houghton, Mich. Due to heavy winds in excess of 40 miles per hour, the classic and freestyle races of the season’s final NCAA qualifier took place on the same day with the Gusties securing fifth in both events in the nine-team field.
Gustavus took fifth place in the team scoring for the freestyle race, with its top three skiers combining to amass 51 points. Northern Michigan University won the event with a total score of 87 points.
Jens Brabbit captured fifth place in the 10k Freestyle with a time of 26:52.9 to garner All-Region honors and ensure his second-highest finish in a race this season since placing fourth in the Hilltop Invite in mid-January. Anders Bowman finished the course with a time of 28:26.7 to place 27th in the field. Peter Larsen and Andrew Poffenberger crossed the finish line together, with Larsen earning 33rd place with a time of 29:11.7 and Poffenberger earning 34th with a time of 29:11.8. Rounding out the six-person squad sent to the meet by Gustavus were Zach Wagner and Gabe Hanson. Wagner finished 38th in 29:28.7 and Hanson finished 41st in 29:37.2.
“In the morning skate race, Jens came out with a purpose and skied his best race of the year. Considering that he missed two consecutive weekends because of illness, the fact that he was able to put himself in contention for a spot at nationals is pretty impressive,” said head coach Jed Friedrich. “Anders Bowman and Peter Larsen rounded out our top three, which provided us with what was probably our best team day in a skate race for the year.”
The Gusties added another fifth place team finish in the Classic race with a total of 52 points in the event. Northern Michigan University won the event with 86 points.
Skiing a mere six hours after his first race, Brabbit finished 15th in the 10k Classic with a time of 29:24.6. Bowman captured 20th place, finishing the course in 29:57.4 while Poffenberger earned 26th place after crossing the finish line in 30:32.1. Hanson finished right behind Poffenberger in 27th place in a time of 30:32.1 and Wagner finished in 33rd place in a time of 31:21.7. Larsen rounded out the Gustie contingent in the event with a 37th place finish in a time of 31:43.3.
“Jens and Anders thought they were skiing great, but they had no one else to really ski with because their start order was in the back. A 15th place finish by Jens isn’t bad, but it made things a little more interesting regarding qualifying for NCAA’s,” said Friedrich. “Andrew had his best race of the year, which is great to see out of any senior. Overall, his weekend was really strong and I’m proud of him for stepping up at the end.”
The Gusties will now wait for the NCAA selection process which will determine if any Gustavus skiers will compete at the NCAA Championships to be held from March 10-13 in Stowe, VT.