HOUGHTON, Mich. – Buoyed by first-place finishes by Amanda Kautzer and Kristoffer Vollset on Sunday and a combined six top-10 finishes on Saturday, the Michigan Tech Nordic ski team finished second overall at the 2019 NCAA Central Region Skiing Championships.
"Ending the Central Region Championships with two individual wins for our men and women was an awesome achievement," said head coach Thomas Smith. "Amanda had a very close race and was actually trailing the NMU skier towards the end before she cranked it to a level I've never seen before, it was just a really great achievement for her. And with Kristoffer, he skied a very tactically-smart race today and won a very close race against another Norwegian from Northern Michigan."
Kautzer earned her second win of the season in the 15k Classic, finishing 2.8 seconds ahead of Northern Michigan's Julie Ensrud as the Plymouth, Minnesota-native crossed the finish line at 50:59.7. Kautzer was among the top four at the 3.3k portion of the race, climbing to third at the 6.6k mark, and then jumping into first at the 10k mark. She held off Ensrud for much of the final portion of the race, beating out the NMU skier in a dead sprint to the finish line.
"It was a weird race, I don't think I've ever had one like this with the wind and the snow," said Kautzer. "It was tough plowing through the snow in the first couple of laps, but midway through the third lap things picked up a little and we separated from the pack. Through the finish, that last lap was where things really picked up and it was a fun last lap."
Sarah Goble also earned a spot in the top three by crossing the finish line at 1:00:11.6, while Erin Lipp finished 12th with a time of 1:02:45.4 in the final race of her Michigan Tech career. Oda Hovland placed 15th with a time of 1:05:48.6, and Mary Lyon finished right behind her in 16th with a time of 1:06:54.1.
Vollset locked up his spot at the NCAA Championships with a thrilling win in the 20k Classic. For much of the opening stages of the race, the pack held tight as the snowfall and punishing winds as the Norwegian stayed near the front of the field. Towards the middle stage of the race, Vollset made his move and jumped into the lead with seven kilometers still to go. Vollset briefly fell behind Northern Michigan's Mathias Rolid at the 16.6k mark, but he regained the lead and never let it go as he crossed the finish line at 1:13:10.7.
"The race today was pretty chaotic; it was a real snowstorm out there, something I've never experienced before," said Vollset. "The first three laps were very slow, we skied as a team out there to start. At the fourth lap, me and one of my teammates saw an opportunity to increase the tempo and the speed. I didn't plan on getting a gap like that, but I had an opportunity go out in front and I took it."
Patrick Acton put in a fourth-place finish on the snowy course today, crossing the finish line at 1:13:48.9 to give him two First Team All-Region performances on the weekend. Also finishing in the top 10 for the Huskies was Reid Goble in seventh (1:14:26.4) and Somer Schrock in ninth (1:15:06.2).
On Saturday, Acton led the way for Michigan Tech as three skiers finished in the top 10. Acton finished fourth in the 10k Skate with a time of 28:54.5, while Dan Wood finished eighth (29:54.6), David Jasczak finished ninth (29:59.2), and Gaspard Cuenot (30:09.6) placed 10th. Reid Goble (30:17.1) narrowly missed out on the top 10.
In the women's 5k Skate, Sarah Goble finished third with a time of 16:06.5 to earn her the first All-Region honor of the weekend. Amanda Kautzer was close behind with a fourth-place finish in 16:23.9. Erin Lipp made it three Huskies inside the top 10 by finishing 10th at 17:30.3.
The Huskies finished the weekend with 363 team points, putting them second behind Northern Michigan and ahead of College of Saint Scholasitca. They received 171 combined points from their men's team, and 192 points from the women's squad.
The Huskies will take a week off from competition before heading to Stowe, Vermont for the 2019 NCAA Skiing National Championships. The race will be held on Wednesday (Mar. 6) and Friday (Mar. 8), with the 5/10k Skate happening on Wednesday and the 15/20k Classic on Friday.