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Three-peat at home: Nordic Huskies win third-straight regional championship at Tech Trails

The Michigan Tech Nordic Ski team poses after winning their third-straight regional championship this weekend at the Tech Trails in Houghton. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies Nordic Ski teams saved their best weekend of racing for last, seeing the Huskies claim their third-straight NCAA Central Region Championships with the combined team win and a men’s team victory at the Tech Trails over the weekend. The Michigan Tech coaching staff also earned Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year.

The men won both days of competition for a point total of 108, with Northern Michigan finishing in second with 99 points. The women led through day one by a point but got surpassed on day two to take second place with 104 points, as Northern Michigan took first with 106 points in a close second day at the races. Michigan Tech claimed the combined team title by seven points (212) over Northern Michigan (205).

“We’re so proud of how the team came to play this weekend-showing up as true champions and skiing their hearts out,” head coach Tom Monahan Smith said. “It was really rewarding to see that pay off to see that pay off and for them to take home the central regional title for the men’s team as well as the overall team title. We really bounced back strong from conference championships and I think it was awesome to have such a great weekend from so many student-athletes here at home. It gives us a ton of confidence going into NCAA Championships for our student-athletes representing us and we know we’ll be in a great place going to colorado to compete in Steamboat.

“We had so many student-athletes compete as best they could this weekend and it’s hard to give anyone too much credit because it was a team effort this weekend.”

Monahan Smith also congratulated all of the volunteers and other who helped make the weekend as special as it was.

“I want to give a huge shoutout to our coaching staff, who was named men’s Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year, which was a deserving honor,” he said. “I also want to give a special thanks to the race organizing committee all the volunteers and parents that came out to support our student-athletes as well as Michigan Tech athletics staff for making this event possible with low snow conditions. But, we pulled it off with a real quality event and owe serious gratitude to all of those that helped make this possible.”

SKATE INTERVAL START

The men of Michigan Tech continued its Skate Interval dominance with another impressive pack of six in the top ten, with Skylar Patten taking the top step on the podium, winning by 30 seconds. Colin Freed joined Patten on the podium with a third-place finish, with Tryg Solberg two seconds behind to take fourth overall. Henry Snider made it a trio of finishes for Tech with a fifth place finish. 

Wes Campbell and Jasper Johnston had notable races, placing sixth and seventh, respectively. Campbell was less than a second away from claiming fifth place.

The women’s race saw Anabel Needham take gold, making it a Huskies sweep for the Skate Interval Start day, smashing the field by over 26 seconds. Synne Herheim was three seconds back from making the podium with a fourth place finish. Olivia Laven comfortably finished in fifth place by almost 10 seconds. 

Marie Sølverud Wangen came up a second short of cracking the top ten with an 11th-place finish.

CLASSIC INTERVAL START

Sunday’s race format, originally scheduled as a 20km Classic Mass Start, changed to a Skate Interval Start due to lack of snow at the Tech Trails. 

However, the change in race format seemingly benefitted the Huskies, who have had strength in skate races all season, producing six among the top nine in the men’s race, with Patten sweeping the men’s weekend with his second win. Snider finished three seconds behind third-place to take fourth overall, with Freed (fith place), Axel Aflodal (seventh place), Solberg (eighth place) and Johnston (ninth place) rounding out the Tech pack.

The women’s race started the second day of racing, with Needham leading the women’s team with a bronze finish leading a pack of three. Herheim and Sølverud Wangen finished five seconds from another to place fourth and fifth, respectively. 

Laven came up big with an eighth-place finish for the Huskies, making Michigan Tech the first team with four finishers within the top-eight.

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