MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University sophomore Erik Soderman of Sweden captured the Wildcats' first individual Nordic national title in five years by winning the men's 10-kilometer freestyle race at the 2012 NCAA Skiing Championships in Bozeman, Mont.
It's Soderman's third straight victory since winning the classic and freestyle races at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional at Al Quaal in Ishpeming.
"What a great way to start the championship," head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. "Erik struggled last season at the NCAA's, finishing 19th in the freestyle and last in the classic.
"I told him 'wait till next year, you'll win the championship' and look what happened today."
Soderman crossed the finish line in 25 minutes, 20.2 seconds, which was 25 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
NMU freshman Kjell-Christian Markset joined Soderman as an NCAA All-American, finishing ninth in 26:10.9. Wildcat junior Chris Bowler took 33rd in 27:40.2.
"(Erik's) only a sophomore, but a great team leader," Fjeldheim said. "We really found a diamond in the rough with Erik."
In the women's 5K freestyle, Erik's sister, senior Marie Helen Soderman, became an NCAA All-American by finishing 10th in 15:10.5.
She was followed by NMU junior Monica Markvardsen in 18th at 15:34.8 and Wildcat sophomore Molly Burger in 26th in 15:53.4
"For Marie to finish in the top 10 is really gratifying," Fjeldheim said. "She made a big push at the end of the season and it's a great way finish her college career."
The Wildcats currently sit sixth overall with 154 total team points, 88 coming from the men.
NMU will return to the trails Friday for the men's 20K classic at 11 a.m. and women's 15K classic at 1 p.m.