Minneapolis, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s and women’s nordic skiing teams finished tied for fifth and sixth, respectively, at the first of three NCAA Qualifiers over the weekend at Wirth Park. The men finished off the weekend with a 20km Classic race, while the women concluded their two-day competition with a 15km Classic technique race on Sunday afternoon. The men’s squad finished with 71 points. The women’s team racked up 77 total points on the weekend.
On the women’s side, the Gusties finished sixth with 77 points on the weekend. On Sunday, the women finished with 41 points, led by Erica Hett (Sr., Burnsville, Minn.). Hett finished in 13th with a final time of 50:10.2. Next came Marian Lund (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) with a 20th-place finish in a time of 51:56.9. Rounding out the top three for Gustavus was Mata Agre (Fy., Corcoran, Minn.). Agre crossed the finish line in 55:06.5 for 31st place.
“Erica skied a strong race and moved up closer to the top skiers in our region. She is such a strong classic skier, and this race really suits her well,” mentioned head coach Jed Friedrich. “Marian keeps getting better in classic races as she scored a top-20 finish. Mata skied great for us in her first 15k of her career. It is quite an adjustment for first-year skiers because they usually ski 5k’s in high school.”
For the men, it was a total of 71 points on the weekend, 36 of which came on Sunday. Josh Blankenship (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) led the way for the second straight day. Blankenship finished in 53:37.9 for 27th place. Scott Williams (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) was the next Gustie to cross the finish line. Williams recorded a time of 54:04.2 for 32nd place. Gustavus owned places 35-38 as well. Marcus Speca (Fy., Minnetonka, Minn.) captured 35th while Tyler Gustafson (So., Grand Rapids) finished 36th. Tony Squillace (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) ranked 37th and Zach Wagner (Sr., Marquette, Mich.) crossed the finish line in 38th on the afternoon.
“Our top four skiers closed out the weekend with career best performances in the classic technique,” said Friedrich of the men’s team. “All of them were first-years or sophomores, so it’s exciting to see them develop into stronger skiers. It was a challenging course for our guys. With the snow melting on Saturday and freezing hard in the morning, the course became really icy and caused a lot of crashes. For the most part, they dealt with it well and kept charging forward.”
Both teams will be back in action next weekend, Jan. 26-27 at their second of three NCAA Qualifiers in Biwabik, Minn.