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UW Nordic Ski Club Fares Well Against NCAA Division I Schools
January 25, 2008 — As the only club team competing the last two weekends, the University of Wyoming Nordic skiers have held their own against varsity sport teams.
Competing in a pair of NCAA-sanctioned races, the UW Cowboys and Cowgirls fared well, says Coach Christi Boggs, UW Outreach Credit Programs assistant lecturer. To gauge how the team competes against NCAA teams, the club figures percentage points back from the actual winner.
"In this way we can tell if we are improving from race-to-race and from year-to-year," Boggs says. "If one of our athletes is within 30 percent of the winners at an NCAA race, they are automatically qualified for the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association Nationals."
Earlier this month, competing in a total of four NCAA Division I races at Utah's Soldier Hollow, the site of the Nordic events for the 2002 Olympics, the UW club members raced against skiers from nine other teams.
The first competition was an interval start classic style race, with the women competing in a 15km and the men 20km.
John Kirlin, sophomore from Casper, lead the way for UW with a 38th place finish, only 14 percent from the winner. He was followed by two Lander skiers, sophomore Jacob Peterson, 52nd, and senior Brian Sebade, 55th. Nicholai Smith, junior from Chugiak, Alaska., was right behind.
"The men had a great day and finished only a few points behind Whitman College and Western State College," Boggs says. "Plus, we had two men inside the top 30 percent."
Gwynn Barrows, sophomore from Laramie, finished as the top UW skier in 39th place, 30 percent out, followed by Lander freshman Marie Catrwright and Pinedale senior Mae Peterson.
The second race was a freestyle mass start. The women competed in a 5km race and the men 15km. Only two UW men finished the race -- Peterson, 58th (26 percent back) and Sebade, 61st (30 percent).
The Cowgirls improved with Barrows again leading the team in 40th place (21 percent back); Catwright in 43rd (24 percent) and Peterson in 45th (30 percent). All three women managed to pre-qualify for the USCSA Nationals later this winter.
Last weekend the elite racers competed at the two-day University of Colorado invitational at the YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, Colo., and the competitive team racers were at the Devil's Thumb Pursuit, also in Granby.
For the UW men competing in a 10km skate race, Kirlin placed 39th (19 percent back); Peterson, 42nd (20 percent), Sebade, 47th (25 percent) and Smith, 50th (36 percent).
The Cowgirls fared well when Barrows placed 34th (23 percent back) and Cartwright only four seconds back of her teammate (23 percent). Liz Turner, junior from Chugiak Alaska, joined the women for this race and started her season in 40th place (31 percent) followed just two seconds back by Peterson in 41st (31 percent).
The competitive UW group was led by Casper sophomore Justin Kinner who defeated all skiers. He was closely followed by Michael Fitzgerald, freshman from Laramie; Patrick Richards, junior, Clear Creek, Colo., fourth; and freshman Adam Kargas, from Grand Rapids, Minn., seventh. Laramie freshman Gina Shively was the only Cowgirl to compete, but was the women's runner-up.
The second day's race was a 15km for the men and 10km for the women.
The Cowboys were led once again by Kirlin, 36th (20 percent back); Peterson, 40th (21 percent); Sebade, 42nd (24 percent); and Smith 47th (33 percent). The double weekend enabled two young skiers from the UW competitive team to try their hand at Division I competition. Kinner and Fitzgerald placed 45th (28 percent) and 48th (39 percent), respectively.
Boggs says the UW women finally had a full contingent of five women for the race. Barrows was the Cowgirls' top finisher at 38th place (27 percent back); followed closely by Peterson, 40th (28 percent); Catrwright 41st, Turner 42nd and sister Katie Turner 43rd.
"Our men's team looks great this season and are pumped. They are hoping to get revenge on Cornell University who beat them by only one point for the USCSA national title last season," Boggs says.
The defending national champion UW women's team is struggling a bit this season, Boggs adds, and has yet to field a consistent team because of injuries and illnesses, and another left to study abroad this semester.
"We have only four team members able to race who are eligible for nationals," she says. "Despite this, there is still hope for some great finishes from our women. What looked to be a great shot at defending their national title is fading with each surgery, but they are looking strong for a top three finish. That would be an amazing recovery considering the hurdles they have faced this year."
The teams will compete this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Conference races against the United States Air Force Academy and Colorado Mountain College at Breckenridge and at a classic sprint race on Sunday in Leadville, Colo. The following weekend the elite group will once again be in Division I action at Crested Butte, Colo., for the Western State College invitational.