The St. Scholastica women’s Nordic ski team became the first CSS athletic program since March 13 to take part in an intercollegiate competition as the Saints opened the Central Collegiate Ski Association season at the Gitchi Gami Games Saturday at the Birkie Trailhead in Cable.

Junior Rana Kraftson (Stillwater, Minnesota) surged to an eighth-place CCSA finish (18th overall), covering the 10-kilometer classic race in 35 minutes, 27 seconds. She was followed by first-year skier Maj-Lis Helmer (Duluth East) in ninth in 35:30 and senior Samantha Benzing (Boise, Idaho) in 10th in 35:44.

Northern Michigan’s Malin Boerjesjoe won in 31:37. Michigan Tech took team honors with 38 points, edging Northern Michigan by a point, while the Saints were third with 21.

Junior John Schwinghamer led the St. Scholastica men for the first time in his career with a career-best seventh-place finish.

Schwinghamer (Mora, Minnesota) finished the 15K classic race in 43 minutes.

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Northern Michigan’s Kjetil Baanerud won in 40:36 as Northern Michigan had three skiers finish in the top five to win with 56 points. Michigan Tech was second with 46 points and CSS third with 31 points.

Despite not practicing as a team since November due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Saints had 12 women’s skiers and 16 men’s skiers competing.

Action resumes Sunday at the Birkie Trailhead with the women’s 5K freestyle at 11:45 a.m. and the men’s 10K freestyle at 1:15 p.m.