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3 Seawolves ski into the top 5 in season-opening NCAA cross-country race

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: January 17
  • Published January 17

A day after a podium sweep by Alaska men in a precursor to the Utah Invitational, Alaska skiers racked up nine top-20 spots in the first NCAA cross-country ski race of the season Sunday at Soldier Hollow, Utah.

Leading the way were a trio of UAA skiers and South High graduate Zanden McMullen, who races for Montana State University.

The Seawolves -- who on Friday celebrated the reinstatement of their alpine team -- were a force, placing two men and one woman in the top five.

JC Schoonmaker and Sigurd Roenning placed 3-4 in the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle race, and Astrid Stav made her NCAA debut by grabbing fifth place in the women’s 5K freestyle race.

The race included college skiers as well as non-collegiate skiers like Johnny Hagenbuch, a U.S. Ski Team member from Idaho who finished second in the men’s race.

McMullen placed fifth, 12.4 seconds behind winner Magnus Boee of Colorado (21 minutes, 24.3 seconds). Schoonmaker was 6.7 seconds back and Roenning was 8.7 seconds back.

Also making the top 20 were Anchorage’s Luke Jager, who was 15th for the University of Utah, and Fairbanks’ Ti Donaldson, who was 16th for Montana State.

In the women’s race, Utah freshman Novie McCabe won her first NCAA by nearly 25 seconds (12:14.3) and led a 1-2-3-4 finish by the Utes. Next was Stav, who finished 37.1 seconds behind McCabe.

On Saturday, the same field of racers competed in an FIS classic sprint qualifying race at Soldier Hollow. Jager triumphed to lead a sweep by Alaskans -- Schoonmaker was second and McMullen third. UAF’s Mariel Pulles topped the women.

Jager, Schoonmaker and McMullen will soon head to Finland for the Feb. 8-14 U23 and World Junior Championships. They are among nine Alaskans on the 22-member U.S. team.