HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech Huskies Nordic ski team wrapped up the 2017-18 regular ski season with five First Team All-Conference honorees; Sarah Goble, Gaspard Cuenot, Tom Bye, Mitch DeLong and Reid Goble along with two Second Team All-Conference award winners, Amanda Kautzer and Patrick Acton. MTU's head coach Tom Smith was also named Coach Of The Year by the the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA).
Under the leadership of Tom Smith, the Huskies Nordic ski team has had five podium finishes in CCSA competition and has successfully coached five athletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado – Sarah Goble, Amanda Kautzer, Gaspard Cuenot, Tom Bye and Reid Goble. Smith and Assistant Coach Kristen Monahan, executed their first fundraising efforts as collegiate coaches, raising over $8,000 and fully funded the team's new race suits. Joe Haggenmiller was the last Tech Nordic ski coach to be named Coach Of The Year in 2009.
The CCSA recognized MTU's student-athletes for their accomplishments this season, with five skiiers being named to the First Team All-Conference and two honored as Second Team All-Conference. With each CCSA race the skiers receive points based on their performance; the top-five skiers with the most points receive First Team honors. The remaining five athletes in the top-10 tier are named to the Second Team. Cuenot and Goble earned All-Region honors for their top-10 performances at the regional championships Feb. 18 as well.
Sarah Goble, a freshman from Harbor Springs, Mich., tallied 116 qualifying points to rank fifth in the conference standings and gained a spot on the All-CCSA First Team. Goble has finished every race in the top-10 in all of the collegiate races this season. She was one off from the podium in the skate races at the MTU CCSA races Feb. 4.
"Sarah is consistent and shines when the pressure is high. Best of all, we feel that she has yet to have her best races of the season and are looking forward to what she can do at the NCAA Championships."
Junior Gaspard Cuenot of Le Cerneux-Pequignot, Switzerland has had back-to-back skate race wins. He took first in the MTU CCSA Race and first place at the conference championships in Rhinelander, Wis. Cuenot has a biathlon background and is traditionally a strong skate skier but he proved his abilities when he achieved third place in the classic ski races at the St. Scholastica CCSA race where he had the fastest lap of the entire field to make a comeback, taking third on the podium. He is second overall in total points with 144 in the All-CCSA rankings.
"Gaspard is on form and proving he can compete with the best skiers in the nation every race," said Smith. "He has a fierce tenacity that makes him a true competitor on the race course."
The Eden Prairie, Minn. native, junior Tom Bye has continued to push the pace of the team all season. His best finish yet was third in the Birkie Start 10K classic race at the Tech Trails and has proceeded to finish within the top spots in each race. Bye holds third in the All-CCSA rankings with 141 points.
"Tom brings a true professional approach to his life as a student-athlete that has allowed him to continue to excel in all aspects," Smith said. "He holds the same tactical style in his racing – he's all in. That's the effort you can guarantee from Tom."
Freshman Mitch DeLong of Calumet, Mich. delivered on the course early on in the season. DeLong placed third in the MTU CCSA Skate race, where he made a bold attempt to make a break for the race win. He has persevered and continues to improve each race. DeLong secured fourth place with 124 points in the All-Conference rankings to earn his First Team honors.
"He is a leading scholar student-athlete, not only representing us with honors on the race course but most importantly in the classroom," added Smith. Mitch has a well-balanced approach to all of his pursuits that complement his successes, and truly earns everything he seeks out to accomplish."
Reid Goble, a freshman from Harbor Springs, Mich. has had a tremendous first season. He finished ninth place in the U.S. National Championship classic race in Anchorage, Alaska amongst some of the best skiers in the country. His most recent performances this weekend at the NCAA Regional Championships earned him All-Region honors, but also a berth to the NCAA Championships. Goble clinched fifth in the All-CCSA rankings with 122 points.
"Reid has arguably made one of the biggest jumps from junior skiing in high school to the top of the competitive stage in collegiate skiing," said Smith. "He set a high goal of making the Central Region NCAA Championship Team this season, and through his consistently solid performances all season long has achieved this goal."
A sophomore from Plymouth, Minn., Amanda Kautzer has shined her abilities this season by proving how dynamic she can be. Her strongest race this season was at the MTU CCSA skate race where she made a risky attack on her last lap to pull ahead of the competition for sixth place. Kautzer was seventh in the running with 101 total points, earning Second Team honors.
"Amanda has really believed in herself this season and has proven just how great of a skier she is by achieving her first qualification for NCAA Championships," Smith said. "She is a 4.0 student-athlete, and is truly as bright as they come.
Patrick Acton is a freshman out of Eagan, Minn. He has been aggressive and challenged alongside his teammates and managed to execute a fourth-place finish in the MTU CCSA skate race – just seconds shy of the podium. He totaled 88 points to earn his Second Team All-CCSA honors.
"Patrick is strong and an all-around incredible athlete," said Smith. "He has been part of a hard charging freshman class within our CCSA conference, as well as our MTU men's team as a whole. Earning this honor as a freshman is a highly respected accomplishment."
The ski races held in Ishpeming closed the regular season for the MTU Nordic ski teams. The Huskies will now get a break before finishing their 2017-18 season at the NCAA Championships March 8th and 10th in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.