Jager top American male finisher in 10-K classic race at NCAAs

March 11, 2021
Luke Jager Cross-Country Skiing

Luke Jager

Dynamic double-poler Luke Jager of Anchorage again showed why he is one the country’s best classical skiers for his age after posting a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships in Jackson, New Hampshire.

The only person to beat the Alaskan in the 40-man field was Norway’s Magnus Boee of the University of Colorado.

Jager earned first team All-American honors and scored 37 team points to help the University of Utah move into first place and keep alive its undefeated season after the second of four days of competition.

Jager, of West High fame, had a 10-K time of 26 minutes, 30 seconds to finish 13 seconds behind Boee and 13 seconds ahead of Utah teammate and third-place finisher Samuel Hendry of Canada.

Utah sits atop the team standings with 319 points; Colorado (252.5) and Montana State (213.5) round out the top three. UAA is fourth with 200 points and UAF 11th with 75.

Jager was the only Alaskan in the top 10 on the day, with Anchorage’s Zanden McMullen of Montana State University just missing with an 11th-place showing and Fairbanks’ Kendall Kramer finishing 12th in the women’s 5-K classical race out of 40 finishers.

Jager has a terrific track record for producing podium finishes in 10-K classical races, which helped pave his way to winning a spot on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Development Team.

In 2020, he won the boys title at the U.S. Cross Country Championships. He also finished 10th at the Junior Cross Country World Championships.

During the college season, Jager never placed outside the top 10 in his four starts in classical. He entered the NCAA Championships as the No. 8 seed in the 10-K classic.

He qualified for the NCAAs last year but was able to compete in only freestyle after the championships ended early because of COVID. This year he was able to race in his strongest event and was in contention for a national championship.

McMullen, a sophomore, was the fourth seed just missed a top-10 effort in 27:22, finishing fewer than two seconds behind Emil Book Bratbak from The College of St. Scholastica.

Kendall Kramer

In the women’s 5-K classical race, Jager made a strong debut in her first appearance at the NCAAs and improved on her 17th seed by five spots.

Kendall, a freshman at UAF, crossed the line in 17:08, holding off Poland’s Weronika Kaleta of the University of Colorado.

Chugiak’s Adrianna Proffitt gave Alaska two women in the top-20. The Montana State University freshman finished in a dead heat with Germany’s Anna-Maria Dietze of the University of Colorado.

Both skiers crossed the line with the exact time of 17:37.1.

Also in the women’s race was Anchorage’s Aubrey Leclair of Montana State and Fairbanks’ Maggie Whitaker of St. Scholastica.

Leclair, a NCAA returning qualifier, was 28th in 18:10 and Whitaker was 35th in 19:30.