Phoenix senior Matt Nichols qualifies for NCAA Nationals
ISHPEMING, Mich. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Battling warm, sloppy conditions, the Green Bay Nordic Ski team concluded its 2016 season this past weekend at the NCAA Central Region Championships in Ishpeming, Mich.
With his seventh place finish in the 10K skate competition, Phoenix senior Matt Nichols (Wausau, Wis.) qualified for the NCAA National Championships which will be held from March 7-12 in Steamboat Springs, Colo., becoming the first member of a Green Bay ski team to qualify for Nationals since Carolyn Freeman in 2011. The Wausau, Wis., native was also named to the All-CCSA Second Team.
“Everyone on the team is ecstatic for Matt,” said head coach Steve Teclaw. “This has been a team effort, and a testament to the work put in thus far over the past four years of rebuilding.”
“Matt’s season this year was solid and consistent. He’s right where he needs to be, racing his best at this point in the season.”
As a team, the Phoenix men placed fifth overall with 80 points over the two-day span, while the women also ended in fifth with 64 points against a field that included Northern Michigan, Alaska-Fairbanks, Michigan Tech, St. Scholastica, St. Olaf and St. Cloud State.
The NMU Wildcats won both the men’s and women’s titles with 122 points, respectively, which featured the women’s 5K and men’s 10K skate races on Saturday followed with the women’s 15K and men’s 20K mass start classics on Sunday.
The aforementioned Nichols paced the men’s team on Saturday completing the 10K course in 26:09.2, followed by juniors Jake Bauer (Richfield, Minn.) in 13th (26:50.2) and Kyle Marshall (Shoreview, Minn.) right behind in 14th (27:06.2).
Marshall concluded his season on Sunday with his best result of the year, a 12th place result to lead Green Bay in the 20K race in 1:02:18.5. Nichols earned a top-15 spot three places behind in 1:02:52.4 while Jake Ajax (Blaine, Minn.) rounded the Phoenix’s top-three in 22nd (1:04:19.0).
On the women’s side, junior Bree Mucha (Soldotna, Alaska) led the Phoenix in both races, including a season-best finish with a 12th place result in the 15K classic race. In the 5K skate, Green Bay was paced by Mucha (21st, 15:32.4), followed by Kayla Billett (East Bethel, Minn.) in 22nd (15:38.0) and Cassie Thobe (Forest Lake, Minn.) in 24th (15:48.4).
Aside from competition, several Phoenix were named to the USCSA All-Academic team for receiving at least a 3.5 GPA and competing at Regionals, a list that included Billett, both Burgers, Mucha, Marshall and Nichols.
Finally, while Nichols will compete at NCAA’s, both Ajax and freshman Cory Rouw (St. Cloud, Minn.) will represent Green Bay at the U.S. Junior National Championships for being ranked inside the top-10 skiers’ 20-years and under in the Midwest.
“Our junior successes are also noteworthy,” said Teclaw. “It’s imperative as a program to have our younger athletes compete in and place well on the junior national circuit.”
“Jake is returning to juniors for the second time under the Green Bay program, which is excellent to see. Cory qualified as a redshirt, which is significant as he was without coaching and ski service from our program during the race season. It’s great to see both guys hard work pay off with some post season racing.”
Women’s 5K (Overall)
Men’s 10K (Overall)
Men’s 20K (Overall)
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