NMU Nordic skier Schwencke captures national championship

MARQUETTE – Nordic skier Fredrik Schwencke of Northern Michigan University fended off three other racers in the final 100 meters to win the NCAA National Championship in the men’s 20K classic race Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y.

A sophomore, Schwencke – who started in the second position – raced with the lead pack the whole way to clock a 56:12.3.

At the end, he out-sprinted three other skiers in the final 100 meters to cross just 0.6 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.

Schwencke is the first National Champion in Nordic skiing for the Wildcats since NMU senior Erik Soderman won the freestyle race at the 2012 NCAA National Championships.

“Freddy had a really intelligent race and never led for too long,” NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “He showed he’s a tough kid.

“It’s a great day for the Wildcats to have a national champion.”

Along with Schwencke, NMU senior Kyle Bratrud earned All-American honors by finishing seventh in the men’s classic race, clocking a 56:47.4.

Bratrud was in the lead pack and had a crash before the final 5K. He chipped away at the competition, however, moving up seven places in the final leg of the race.

Teammate Soderman rounded out the men’s contingent, finishing in 11th place with a time of 57.08.2.

“Our men’s team was outstanding,” Fjeldheim said.

On the women’s side, NMU junior Felicia Gesior led the Wildcats by finishing 13th in 49:43.7 in the 15K classic race.

NMU sophomore Kristen Bourne was next for NMU, finishing 17th in 49:49.2.

Wildcat senior Jordyn Ross crossed the finish line in 36th place, clocking a 53:20.9.

“Our team had great races today. I was proud of our whole team,” Fjeldheim said.

The Wildcats men’s team finished the classic race atop the standings with 85 combined points.

The women’s team placed eighth with 34 points.

Information compiled by Senior Sports Writer Craig Remsburg. He can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251, or via email at cremsburg@miningjournal.net.