Northern Michigan University nordic women skiers work their away across the country

Northern Michigan University women’s nordic skier Merle Richter races at the NCAA Championships held in Steamboat, Colo., in early March. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University women’s nordic ski team won its half of the NCAA regional meet in late February and kept going from there to the nationals along with a solid showing at the SuperTour Finals and Spring National Championships held near Duluth, Minnesota, in late March.

Here are details from each meet:


Wildcat women win

On Feb. 25-26 in Houghton, the NMU women beat out host Michigan Tech by two points, 106-104, for the women’s title, losing the first day by a single point before prevailing on day two by three points. St. Scholastica was third and Wisconsin-Green Bay fourth.

Northern’s Henriette Nilssen was second place for a silver medal on the opening day’s 7.5-kilometer freestyle race, clocking 18 minutes, 46.3 seconds. Teammate Merle Richter was right behind in third for bronze in 18:55.8.

Then on the second day, Richter won the 20K interval start in 1:01:21.8 with Nilssen finishing runner-up again for another silver.


NCAA national championships

At Steamboat, Colorado, on March 7 and 9, Richter, Nilssen and Victoria Dybwad were selected from NMU to compete.

In the first day’s 7.5K individual freestyle, Nilssen led the Wildcats in 30th place in 24:30.9, which included splits of 7:33.9 at 2.5K and 16:12.8 at 5K. She was 27th after 2.5K and 30th after 5K.

Richter came in 38th in 25:08.1 with a 2.5K time of 7:46.8 and 5K of 16:40.3, while Dybwad came in 40th in 26:13.3, timing 7:49.5 at 2.5K and 17:10.0 at 5K.

On the second day’s 20K classic, Richter headed up the NMU contingent in 21st place in 1:06:27.6. Her 5K split was 15:54.1, 10K at 32:26.9 and 15K at 49:31.1. She was only 26th after 5K but moved up to her final 21st place at 10K and 15K.

Nilssen was 32nd in 1:09:04.1 with a 5K split of 16:31.8, 10K of 33:56.9 and 15K of 51:37.8, while Dybwad was 37th in 1:11:15.6, clocking at 5K in 16:34.5, 10K in 34:39.1 and 15K at 53:11.7.


SuperTour Finals

The SuperTour Finals and Spring Nationals were held in the Duluth, Minnesota, area included four events held over six days from March 21-26 and included both collegiate and professional skiers.

On the first day was the 10K classic individual start with Nilssen finishing runner-up among under-20 collegians and 10th overall in 27:41.2. Her 3.3K time was 9:12.3 and 6.6K was 18:24.5.

Richter was 14th overall in 28:10.7, also coming in fourth among all college skiers. Her splits were 9:11.0 at 3.3K and 18:40.0 at 6.6K.

Dybwad was 21st overall and eighth among college skiers in 29:27.6, teammate Kolibri Drobish 22nd and ninth for collegians in 29:34.1 and the Wildcats’ Pearl Harvey 23rd overall and 10th for collegians in 29:43.3.

Teammate Flisa Ravald was 30th overall and 13th in college in 30:30.3, Jordan Parent 33rd and 15th in college in 30:38.8, and Ella Niznik 40th and 19th in college in 31:55.6.

Day 2 was the classic sprint with Richter and Nilssen each making it to the senior division semifinals. Short sprints were held in six-skier brackets, with top finishers advancing to the next of a total of three rounds.

In her opening quarterfinal, Richter was second in 3:36.76 to automatically advance, then clocked 3:29.83 in the semis to finish fourth. One of the racers in her semi, Novie McCabe, won the overall title in the following round in 3:28.17.

Nilssen was fourth in her quarterfinal in 3:37.38, but as one of the two fastest skiers who wasn’t a top-two finisher in her quarterfinal, Nilssen still got to advance. In her semi, she clocked 3:31.16 to finish fifth, missing advancing by one spot in the faster semifinal.

Nilssen actually edged out Dybwad in the quarterfinals, as the latter clocked 3:43.18 for the fastest time to not advance in their section of quarterfinals.

The Junior U-20 bracket, which was a single race with five competitors, Parent won in 3:49.99 and Niznik was second in 3:56.23 as they beat out another collegian and two pros.

The third day was the team sprint with Nilssen and Richter teaming up to finish in sixth place in the “A” final.

They qualified for the top final with a combined time of 6:29.12, coming in ninth, Richter finishing 11th individually in 3:09.26 and Nilssen 25th in 3:19.86.

In the finals, skier alternated laps, each skiing three as the NMU pair clocked 20:23.58, about 1:15 out of first place.

Harvey and Ravald also made the “A” final, Ravald 17th in individual qualifying in 3:14.85 and Harvey 22nd in 3:16.97. They were 12th in the alternating-lap final in 20:43.50.

And Dybwad and Drobish also made the “A” final, with Dybwad 21st individually qualifying in 3:16.50 and Drobish 34th in 3:23.08. They were 13th in the final in 20:56.01.

Niznik and Parent got to the “B” final, Niznik 33rd in qualifying in 3:23.05 and Parent 45th in 3:30.04. They finished fourth in the finals in 22:06.05.

On the last day, the 40K mass start, Harvey led Northern in 15th in 2:12:04.3, finishing less than 17 minutes out of first place. She was also fourth among college skiers.

Drobish was 16th overall and fifth in college in 2:13:02.8, while Dybwad came in 17th and sixth in 2:13:24.2.

Ravald was 21st and ninth collegiately in 2:18:04.1, Richter 24th and 12th in 2:21:14.0 and Nilssen 25th and 13th in 2:21:16.8.

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


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