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March 11, 2014 — With four individuals in the top 10 after the first race of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSSA) national championships at Lake Placid, N.Y., the University of Wyoming Cowgirls have claimed the early team lead.
Led by Sierra Jech’s national runner-up finish in the 8.5km skate race Tuesday morning on the 1980 Winter Olympics ski trails, the UW women had a team-low 13 points. The Cowgirls, who are seeking their sixth national title since 2003, were the national runner-up a year ago.
The Cowgirls again are battling national power St. Olaf of Northfield, Minn., for the team title. St. Olaf finished the first day of competition with 17 team points, while Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction) placed third with 30 points.
It was an all-Wyoming finish in the top 10 for the Cowgirls at the USCSSA championships.
Jech, who is from Cody, was followed by teammates Elise Sulser of Casper, who was 15 seconds behind Jech in third place; Bridget Weiner, also of Casper, finished ninth after the first race; and teammate Yara Thomas of Jackson placed 10th in the race, which had 41 individual skiers.
“It was just a fantastic day for our women,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says.
The UW men’s team, which is looking for back-to-back national titles, placed second later in the day. The Cowboys tallied 20 team points to trail leader St. Olaf by 13 points. Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.) was third with 27 points.
With 46 skiers in the race, Patrick Rodgers of Casper was UW’s highest finisher, coming in sixth. Two other Cowboys placed in the top 10: Nathan Hough took seventh, and Taylor Vignaroli was ninth. Both also are from Casper.
“They skied well and are sitting well for the next race, which is one of their strengths,” Boggs says.
Others who finished among the top 30 were Andrew Hill, Casper, 11th; Kyle Bochanski, Fairfax, Vt., 12th; Sam Wiswell, Jackson, 16th; Ben Noren, Ironwood, Mich., 17th; Sindre Solvang, Cheyenne, 28th; Kyle Carpenter, Anchorage, Alaska, 29th; and Wil Chapple of Littleton, Colo., was one place back.
Competition resumes Wednesday with the 1.5km classic sprint. Teams will have Thursday off, and skiing resumes with a 15km mass start race Friday. The meet concludes with a team sprint Saturday.