Minneapolis, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s and women’s nordic skiing teams competed in the first day of a two-day NCAA Qualifier Saturday mroning at Wirth Park. The men’s race was a 10k Freestyle technique while the women competed in a 5k Freestyle race. Both teams sit in sixth after day one. The men’s team racked up 36 points while the women tallied 35.
On the men’s side, the Gusties were led by Josh Blankenship (So., Maple Grove, Minn.), who finished in 26th place with a final time of 24:00.8. Tyler Gustafson (So., Grand Rapids, Minn.) came next for Gustavus. Gustafson finished in 30th place in a time of 24:22.6. Tony Squillace (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) and Zach Wagner (Sr., Marquette, Mich.) rounded out the top four for the Gusties. Squillace and Wagner finished one after another, Squillace in 35th in a time of 24:41.5 and Wagner in 36th in a time of 24:51.0.
“Our top three men raced really well. Josh Blankenship’s result was right on par, but Tyler Gustafson and Tony Squillace really had breakthrough races,” said head coach Jed Friedrich. “They have trained well for the last couple of years and their dedication is starting to pay off; definitely their best results so far in their college careers. Our skiers competed really hard today, which is exactly what I asked of them going into the race.”
For the women, Erica Hett (Sr., Burnsville, Minn.) led the way with an 18th place finish in 13:33.3. She was followed by Marian Lund (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) in 20th place with a finishing time of 13:42.6. Mata Agre (Fy., Corcoran, Minn.) and Meredith Bache-Wiig (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) rounded out the top four for the women in 34th and 36th place, respectively. Agre crossed the finish line in 14:37.9 while Bache-Wiig finished in a time of 14:51.1.
“Our top two women led the charge and will put us in a couple of tight battles in the team competition,” remarked Friedrich. “Mata Agre stepped up as our third skier just ahead of Meredith Bache-Wiig. Those two ladies will likely take turns as our final scoring skier throughout the year.”
Both squads will be in action again tomorrow morning in a Classic technique race.
“It was exciting to see the attitudes our racers had today,” finished Friedrich. “We are looking forward to tomorrow.”