Houghton, Mich. - The Gustavus Adolphus men’s and women’s nordic skiing teams brought home a pair of sixth place finishes from the NCAA Central Region Championships, which concluded on Sunday afternoon with the freestyle races. The men finished sixth in a field of seven teams with 46 total points while the women finished sixth of eight teams with 56 points. With Sunday’s finish, both teams conclude their 2012-13 seasons.
On the men’s side, Josh Blankenship (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) bounced back from a 46th place finish on Saturday in the classic race to cross the line in 28th place with a final time of 43:10.7 to lead the Gusties in the freestyle race on Sunday. Tony Squillace (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) followed Blankenship in 31st with a time of 43:29.6. Zach Wagner (Sr., Marquette, Mich.) crossed the finish line directly after Squillace just :07 seconds later. Wagner finished in 32nd place with a time of 43:36.7.
“I was proud of the way the guys raced,” said head coach Jed Friedrich. “Some of them were battling illness, but they stuck with it and fought all the way to the finish line. It is difficult to stay focused at the end of a long season, but they fought nonetheless. There is a good core of young guys that have the ability to improve and that’s exciting to plan for next year, but we will definitely miss Zach, our only senior.”
For the women, Erica Hett (Sr., Burnsville, Minn.) led the charge one last time. Hett finished 13th in a time of 32:16.8, which was good enough for her best career finish at the Regional meet in the freestyle technique. Behind her came Marian Lund (Jr., Duluth, Minn.) in 21st with a final time of 33:25.9. Meredith Bache-Wiig (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) was the third Gustie to cross the finish line. The senior finished her career with a 29th place finish in 35:34.3 for her second straight top 30 finish.
“The women raced well and fought hard,” mentioned Friedrich. “They kept a positive attitude and skied as hard as they could right to the end. I was happy with their effort. Erica had another great race with her best regional result in the freestyle technique of her career, and Marian and Meredith each had good races as well. It was good to see Erica and Meredith go out with good showings in their last races.”
The Gustavus Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to seniors Meredith Bache-Wiig, Erica Hett, and Zach Wagner for their dedication to the Gustavus nordic skiing program over the past four years.