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Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen third overall in Sprint

Wed, Jan  7, 2015 - By CCSA

The second day of the US Cross Country Championships proved to be another good showing for CCSA skiers with Logan Hanneman of The University of Alaska Fairbanks winning the B Final, Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen third overall, and teammate Deedra Irwin skiing to tenth for the women.

“It’s an exciting day for the program,” said Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. “We haven’t had anyone in the sprint finals for a few years, so to have some people make the finals is pretty exciting.”

An incredible 7 inches of snow reportedly fell over the morning of the race, making a trying sprint course all the more slow and difficult. First overall in qualifying was Michigan Tech student Haakon Hjelstuen, with a time of 4:23.2. Hjelstuen, on exchange from NTNU in Trondheim, Norway, has been training with MTU’s team, but is currently ineligible to compete for the Huskies.

Haggenmiller says he hopes to resolve Hjelstuen’s status with the NCAA quickly. The Norwegian brings a wealth of experience to the Huskies, having notched multiple sub-90 point FIS races in his skiing career. Haggenmiller praised Hjelstuen saying, “Haakon’s really brought a great element to the team.” Hjelstuen not only posted the fastest qualifying time of the day overall, but he worked his way through the preliminary heats with relative ease, winning his semifinal and taking third overall in the final heat.

Haakon Hjulsten earned a spot on the podium and Deedra Irwin finished in the top 10 in today's classic sprints at the U.S. Cross Country Championships hosted at Michigan Tech's Nordic Training Center.

Men's classic sprint podium, with Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen third overall.

It was a good day for the CCSA men overall, with eight skiers through to the heats, not including Hjelstuen. Fredrik Schwencke of Northern Michigan University led the CCSA men in qualifying, posting the fifth fastest time. Schwencke missed out on a spot in the semifinal heats by just over two seconds to finish 13th overall.

Logan Hanneman of Alaska Fairbanks bested Hjelstuen in their quarterfinal heat and missed making the final heat by less than half a second. Unlucky to not have advanced despite taking third in his semifinal heat, Hanneman showed his sprinting prowess, and endurance, to win the B Final in an emphatic fashion, crossing the finish line with a four and a half second margin over his closest competitor.

The other top CCSA men on Tuesday were Isaac Lammers of Alaska Fairbanks in 21st, Joe Dubay of St. Scholastica in 22nd, and Reitler Loeffler of Alaska Fairbanks in 25th. Rounding out the top thirty for Michigan Tech were Sam Holmes in 27th, and Tom Kendrick in 30th. “Sam really surprised me today,” Haggenmiller said of Holmes standout performance. “We should be moving up the College Cup rankings now.”

The CCSA women were led by Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin. 11th in qualifying, Irwin worked her way through her quarterfinal heat, and finished fourth in the B Final to take tenth overall.

“I expected her to be competitive,” said Haggenmiller of Irwin. “She was 9th last year at US Nationals in qualifying, but she took a pretty bad crash [last year] in the quarterfinals, and my thought was that if she could get through qualifying today and stay on her feet, she would do well.”

Anita Kirvesniemi of St. Scholastica proved that she is back in form after a shoulder injury derailed her 2014 season. Kirvesniemi skied the fifth fastest qualifier of the day overall, and was the CCSA women’s top qualifier with a time of 5:23.1, just ahead of NMU’s Vivian Hett who qualified in sixth.

Only Irwin was able to navigate her way through the quarterfinals, with Hett finishing 13th overall, Kirvesniemi 16th, and Jordyn Ross of NMU in 28th.

Haggenmiller praised the work of those involved in making the races happen, saying, “the race crew has been doing an outstanding job.”

“Everyone’s getting to experience what we get to every winter,” said Haggenmiller. “I hope they’re having fun and enjoying it.”

Full results can be found at myresults.com