It was a clean sweep of the postseason awards for the Northern Michigan University Nordic ski teams, as the Wildcats' juniors Rosie Frankowski and Erik Soderman earned regional skier of the year honors, and head coach Sten Fjeldheim collected both the men's and women's coach of the year award.
"It feels awesome," Fjeldheim said. "I have a lot of respect for all the other coaches, so it's quite an honor. I'm really happy for both Erik and Rosie as well â?? they worked hard all season and really deserve it."
Frankowski earned the region's best finish on the women's side at this year's NCAA Championships, collecting her first All-American honor with a seventh-place finish in the 15K skate. Initially a walk-on to the heralded Northern Michigan ski team, Frankowski finished the year as the region's top female skier, an all-CCSA first-teamer, and earned the conference's top skier in four events this season, including both the freestyle and classic events at U.S. Nationals.
"Rosie made me a believer," Fjeldheim said. "She's one of the hardest working athletes I've ever seen. "
Soderman, meanwhile, collected his second and third career All-American awards at this year's NCAA Championships, earning a first-team spot with his fourth place finish in the freestyle event and a second-team spot with a 10th place finish in the classic race. Also an all-CCSA first-team member and the top scoring skier in the region this season, Soderman won six CCSA races, including sweeping both events at the CCSA Championships in February.
"Erik is just such a solid character," Fjeldheim said. "He doesn't say much, but when he does, its usually funny and just makes a lot of sense."
Fjeldheim oversaw another hugely successful season at Northern Michigan, adding four All-American awards, both the men's and women's CCSA Championships and the men's and the overall NCAA Central Region Championships to the school's already impressive trophy cabinet. Under his guidance, four of the region's top 10 skiers on both the men's and women's side wore the Wildcats' green and gold.
"It's a real honor, but I couldn't have done it without my assistant coaches â?? Ingrid, my daughter, and Martin Banerud have worked really hard this year," Fjeldheim said. "It takes more than just one coach to make a successful program, there's no magic wand you can wave. It just takes consistency, day in and day out, and that's a culture that the athletes themselves set. Rosie and Erik have both had a lot of great role models before them, and now they are the leaders helping set the tone for the rest of the team."