Skier Nicole Schneider leads Northern Michigan University with women’s sprint win at U.S. Cross Country Championships

Northern Michigan University's Nicole Schneider, center, stands atop the podium with other top finishers after winning the women’s junior classic sprint race at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, on Sunday. (Photo courtesy NMU)

SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah — Nicole Schneider of Northern Michigan University won the junior classic sprint race at the U.S. Cross Country Championships on Sunday.

And in a field of more than 300 skiers, Fredrik Schwencke reached the finals of the senior classic sprint where placed sixth.

“The quality of the competition is the best that I have seen in many years,” head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “This event is also part of the Canadian Nationals so there are nearly 700 of the top North American skiers, as well as some top foreign athletes, competing here this week.”

On Saturday, a pair of Wildcat alumni won the freestyle distance races. Kyle Bratrud claimed a victory in the men’s 15-kilometer in 34 minutes, 52.0 seconds, while Caitlin (Compton) Gregg, a 2013 NMU Sports Hall of Fame inductee, captured the women’s 10K title in 27:00.6.

“It’s fun that two NMU ski team alumni won,” Fjeldheim said. “That says something about our program and how our alumni are setting the bar for our current team.”

Northern Michigan University senior Sam Elfstrom skis the men's 15-kilometer freestyle race at the U.S. Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. (Photo courtesy NMU)

Adam Martin was NMU’s top finisher in the men’s 15K freestyle, placing 13th, and second among collegiate athletes, in 36:02.0. He was joined in the top 100 of a 307-athlete field by Schwencke, who was 62nd in 38:20.9, Zak Ketterson, 72nd in 38:32.8, and Sam Elfstrom, 95th in 38:57.9.

In the women’s 10K freestyle, six of the eight Wildcats who raced cracked the top 100 in a field of 248 — Schneider, who was 34th in 29:27.4, Sophie Schimpl, 35th in 29:27.9; Vivian Hett, 48th in 29:48.3; Caroline Brisbois, 51st in 29:52.5; Kristen Bourne, 57th in 30:06.4; and Sophie McDonald, 81st in 30:53.9.

“Adam had a very respectable 13th-place finish, and Nicole led the women’s team,” Fjeldheim said. “Nicole stands a good chance of qualifying for the World Junior Championships, and Adam could qualify for the U-23 World Championship team.”

Full results are at the website http://www. nmuwildcats.comsports/skiing/results.

Northern concludes the U.S. Cross Country Championships on Tuesday with classic distance races.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.