Ahmed Leads Saints in Stacked Home Meet
As winter challenges snow sports worldwide, the Saints Hilltop Invitational slated for The Marshall School in Duluth, needed to move to Coleraine, Minnesota’s Mt. Itasca where a 2.3 kilometer loop of manmade snow challenge the Central Collegiate Ski Association’s best skiers in the first in-region NCAA qualifying event. All CCSA teams were in full attendance, making it the most competitive Hilltop Invitational yet.
Freshman, Sharmila Ahmed, led a strong Saints showing in 16th place, with a time of 12:30.7, just 1.2 seconds ahead of senior teammate, Eleanor Magnuson in 17th with a time of 12:31.9. Sophomore, Brooke Adams finished 20th in 12:44.7.
Northern Michigan’s Molly Burger was the surprise winner in an incredibly tight race, pacing the field in 11:48.5. Alaska Fairbank’s Marit Rjabov was just 3.5 seconds back in second, edging Northern Michigan’s Monica Markvardsen by two-tenths of a second in third. Places 4th through 6th were separated by only three-tenths of a second, with only 6.2 seconds separating 1st through 6th.
The Saints finished 4th as a team with its top five skiers all finishing in 23rd or better. Northern Michigan University won the team title on the day, 7 points better than Alaska Fairbanks. Michigan Tech finished 3rd.
“The slightly short course and incredibly hard fast track made every little spot on the course critical,” said Saints head coach, Chad Salmela. “It literally was a race of split seconds. I feel really good about how our women skied and I think we are poised really well for the remainder of the season.”
The Saints Hilltop Invitational concludes Sunday with a 1.5km CCSA Individual Sprint Championship.