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Young UW Nordic Skiers Place High in Opening Weekend Competition

January 31, 2019

Names may change, but the results remain the same for the University of Wyoming’s Nordic ski teams.

With a revamped lineup for both the men’s and women’s teams this winter, the UW teams opened the new season with impressive results at the Colorado Mesa Invitational last weekend at the Powderhorn ski area.

The Pokes were second in Saturday’s skate sprint (1.2km) and captured the overall team title during Sunday’s 10k. The UW women were the runners-up both days in the first United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) national qualifier competition.

"I was really proud of the men’s team this weekend because they engaged in excellent reflective practice/goal setting and reaped the benefits with a decisive win on Sunday,” says UW co-head Coach Rachel Watson.

The men were led by Trevor Willoughby, a Casper senior, who placed second both days behind the defending USCSA overall national champion, Mitch Hollman from Air Force. UW has three new freshmen in the lineup and one redshirt freshman to back up Willoughby, says co-head Coach Christi Boggs.

Silas Goetz, a Lander freshman, placed seventh Saturday, and freshman teammate Matt Williams, from Jackson, placed 10th in the “B” finals. Sheridan sophomore Ben Romanjenko skied to 18th, and Derek Larsen, a first-year skier from Casper, finished 23rd.

During Sunday’s race, Goetz and Williams finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to give the men’s team the win over Western Colorado University by 10 points.

“This is the first win the men have had since the epic three-time national championship team graduated two years ago,” Boggs says. “We’re super stoked to have a strong men’s team. After the first weekend, UW men are five points ahead of Western Colorado in the overall team standings, and they hope to stay there.”

Although the UW women are not all freshmen, they are generally young, Boggs adds. The Cowgirls placed second behind Western Colorado University both days.

UW’s women were led by redshirt freshman Kat Gruner, of Casper, who placed third in the sprint and was fifth in the classic competition. One of Gruner’s teammates joined her in the “A” final -- the sprint has elimination rounds that result in the top six skiers going to the “A” final and the next six competing in the "B” final.

Casper sophomore Maddy Tinker placed for the first time in an “A” finals race, taking fifth. The “B” final was dominated by UW women with Ella DeWolf, a Laramie senior, eighth; Jackson junior Sydney Wiswell, ninth; and Zoe Noble, a Pinedale freshman, placed 11th.

Also competing in the “B” finals were senior Morgan Robins, Lander; freshman Kaillee Behunin, Lander; and sophomore Rylie Garner, Casper.

A crash near the start of Sunday’s race caused some chaos, Boggs says, but Gruner managed a fifth-place finish. DeWolf and Wiswell finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively. The Cowgirls were just six points out of first place and trail Western Colorado University by nine points in the overall standings.

UW will be in Crested Butte, Colo., for the Western Colorado University Invitational this weekend.

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