St. Cloud, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s and women’s nordic skiing teams competed in their first race of the season on Saturday morning in the Minnesota College Championships held at the Graystone Trails. With a relay format, multiple teams competed in the race for each squad. The top women’s team finished first of 17 entries, while the top men’s team finished fifth out of 23 groups.
Gustavus’s top trio, consisting of Marit Sonnesyn (So., Plymouth, Minn.), Mata Agre (So., Corcoran, Minn.), and Marian Lund (Sr., Duluth, Minn.) finished in 50:16.3, exactly eight seconds in front of second-place finisher St. Scholastica.
Sonnesyn set the pace early with a 16:35.5 opening split to give Agre a two and a half second cushion in the second leg. After Agre gave ground, Lund finished strong with the second-fastest split of the race (16:14.6) to give Gustavus the top spot on the podium.
“Our first women’s team raced very well and competed hard to claim the Minnesota Championship,” stated Head Coach Jed Friedrich. “Mata crashed on the second leg and lost a little ground to St. Scholastica, but Marian closed the gap and pulled away at the end. This will serve as a really good springboard for these women heading into the NCAA Qualifying weekends.”
The Gusties also entered a second team in the race. The trio, which consisted of Megan Allen (Jr., Duluth, Minn.), Haley Bell (So., Andover, Minn.), and Dasha Terenteva (So., Gus-Khrustalny, Russia), placed 12th.
The men’s team entered three teams in a field of 23. Of the three trios, the group of Scott Williams (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.), Gabe Hanson (Sr., Stillwater, Minn.), and Marcus Speca (So., Minnetonka, Minn.) finished in fifth, while Tony Squillace (Sr., Duluth, Minn.), Tyler Gustafson (Jr., Grand Rapids, Minn.), and Josh Blankenship (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.) finished sixth.
Williams placed the first team in second after the opening leg, turning in the second-fastest split of the race, while the second team came from behind thanks to a strong performance by Tyler Gustafson.
“On the men’s side, guys like Scott Williams, Gabe Hanson, and Tyler Gustafson all put down some excellent splits. Unfortunately, they weren’t all on the same relay team,” mentioned Fridrich. “It was a good first race and I know these guys will be excited to get after it next weekend when we head to Cable, Wis., for our first NCAA Qualifier.”
Both teams will be back in action next weekend when they take part in their first of two NCAA Qualifiers in Cable, Wis. The Qualifier will be a two-day event on Saturday, Jan. 18th and Sunday, Jan. 19th.