JACKSON, N.H.The flowers at the flower ceremony could not have smelled any sweeter for the Northern Michigan University women’s Nordic Freestyle squad and their coach Sten Fjeldheim, as they swept the top three positions in the first day of competition at the NCAA Skiing Championships held at Jackson XC Center on Wednesday afternoon. The host of the event is the University of New Hampshire.

            The winner’s podium was a sea of green as the 5 K race was won by Lindsey Williams, who had the only time under 14:00.0 with a clocking of 13:50.4. Placing second was her teammate Morgan Smyth (14:06.6) and third went to NMU’s Lindsey Weier (14:08.3).

            As a result of the strong effort by Northern Michigan, the squad leads all teams with 189 points after Day 1 of competition, followed by Dartmouth (166.0), Denver (146), Utah (143), Colorado (131), Alaska-Fairbanks (106), and Alaska-Anchorage (100.0). In all, 18 teams registered points Wednesday.

            “We just raced hard as a team and Sten always tells us attitude and effort, so we went into it with a positive attitude, a ready-to-go, go-get-em attitude, and left it all out on the course,” said Williams. “I know that our team is really strong, so it doesn’t surprise me that much, but it’s just awesome that this really did happen. I was pushing hard the whole way, from the very beginning to the very end. I like this course a lot, it’s really fun. The first half is a climb to the woods uphill and you get to the top of the course, then its fun downhill. When you get to the stadium again you hammer it to the finish line.”

            The top 10 finishers are named All-Americans and Dartmouth College had a big day with three finishers in the top 10. Placing fourth was Denver’s Annelise Bailly (14:23.8), Sara Schweiger of Utah was fifth (14:31.0), sixth place was earned by Colorado’s Maria Moe Grevsgaard (14:34.7), The Big Green’s Elsa Sargent was seventh (14:39.8) and teammate Sara Studebaker was eighth (14:42.8), Alaska-Fairbanks’ Julia Coulter was ninth (14:43.7) and Dartmouth’s Susan Dunklee rounded out the top 10 (14:49.1).

In the men’s grueling 10 K Freestyle Nordic Race, University of Denver’s Rene Reisshauer was all smiles as he spoke to reporters, after taking top honors with an amazing clocking of 24:52.2, earning his team 39 points. Also helping to boost the Denver team total was John Stene, who crossed the finish line in fifth place with a time of 25.51.7.

            “I had to pace myself differently here than I have the whole season,” said Reisshauer. “It was not easy because the climb was pretty long to go up to 3K. I didn’t feel too great, but in the end I got really good splits, finished hard and it was a good race.

This is a good first step toward our goal of winning the overall team title. The individual titles are nice, but in the end the team is what counts and that is what we are going for.”

            The top 10 finishers in each event earn All-America honors. In addition to Reisshauer and Stene, Utah’s Snorri Einarsson placed second (25:21.6), Alaska-Fairbanks’ Marius Korthauer was third (25:43.5), Martin Banerud of Northern Michigan was fourth (25:44.2), Matt Gelso of Colorado was sixth (26:07.3), Simeon Hamilton of Middlebury College was seventh (26:08.2), Dartmouth’s Benjamin True was eighth (26:08.3), Andy Liebner of Alaska-Anchorage was ninth (26:10.0), and the 10th All-American was Even Sletten of Utah (26:16.7).

            NCAA Skiing Championship action returns tomorrow as the teams move to Attitash for the Alpine Giant Slalom Races. The women compete at 9 a.m. and the men’s action begins at 12:30 p.m. at Bear Peak.

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