Nikander Wins 30K as Lobos Finish 3rd in Utah
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/09/2014

Park City, Utah --- New Mexico got a win from Aku Nikander in the men’s 30k freestyle and a third place finish in the women’s 20k freestyle from Eva Severrus as UNM finished third overall at the Pat Miller Invitational, hosted by the University of Utah.

Host Utah won the event with 657.5 points, edging Denver, who had 649.  UNM finished third with 566.5 points and ahead of Alaska-Anchorage, Montana State and Colorado State among others.  In all there were nine schools represented and competing at the Pat Miller Invitational.

Lobo Aku Nikander and Lukas Ebner of Alaska Anchorage wages an epic battle in the men’s 30k freestyle on the final day of the Pat Miller Invitational, but if you weren’t paying attention, it was easy to miss Nikander’s final push to pass Ebner and win the 30k race.  The 30k race was run in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals, Nikander and Ebner actually finished 13th and 14th among the racers, but in the collegiate portion, they waged quite the battle, with Nikander passing Ebner late and winning the 18.6 mile jaunt by just 4.9 seconds.

Nikander finished the course in an hour and 20 minutes, 48 seconds, while Ebner finished at 1:20:52.9.

Mats Resaland had a strong showing, finishing sixth at 1:22;31.8, and Aljaz Praznik was UNM’s third scorer with 14 points at 1:25:55.9, finishing 18th.

On the women’s side, Eva Severrus, who just transferred to UNM this semester, had a great run as well, finishing third in just her second collegiate race, finishing the 20k course at 1:01:55.2.  Teammate Anni Nord had her second eighth-place finish at the Miller, with a time of 1:04:38.1, and Andrea Lee had another good day with a 12th place finish at 1:05:35.8.

While UNM was pretty much locked into third place entering the final day, head coach Fredrik Landstedt came away impressed with the day’s results for the Lobos.

“Aku won a 30-kilometer race with a mass start.  He skiied a great race and made a great push at the end to pass the leader and get a win, which is great for his confidence,” said Landstedt.  Mats (Resaland) had another great race.”

Landstedt was particularly happy with the women’s side and the contributions of Severrus, who just enrolled after coming to the program from Slovenia right after Christmas.  “Eva is just a freshman, and she just arrived.  I think the women ran very good races.”

“Overall it was a much better day for the team, and we are excited for the MSU competitions this weekend.”

UNM Point scorers (Day Three)
Men’s 30K Freestyle
1st Aku Nikander 1:20:48.0 40 pts
6th Mats Resaland 1:22:31.8 27 pts
18th Aljaz Praznik 1:25:55.9 14 pts
Women’s 20K Freestyle    
3rd Eva Severrus 1:01:55.2 34 pts
8th Anni Nord 1:04:38.1 23 pts
12th Andrea Lea 1:05:35.8 19 pts
Overall UNM Point scorers
Aku Nikander 63 pts
Mats Resaland 54 pts
Juho-Pekka Penttinen 51 pts
Armin Triendl 49 pts
Aljaz Praznik 33 pts
Scott Snow 25 pts
Sean Horner 14 pts
Karoline Mykelbust 56 pts
Eva Severrus 51 pts
Mateja Robnik 50.5 pts
Anni Nord 46 pts
Andrea Lee 41 pts
Sydney Staples 18 pts