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UW Nordic Ski Teams Open Conference Action With Two-Day Sweeps

February 2, 2022

Both University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams turned in winning performances as the conference season opened last weekend at the Colorado Mesa University Invitational in Grand Junction, Colo.

With the largest number of conference teams (seven) competing both days on Grand Mesa, the UW men and women won the sprint and 10km classic races.

“It looks like our closest competition for both the men and women will be Western Colorado University (WCU),” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “I think there is a chance that the UW and WCU teams will be competing for the national title at the end of the year.”

For the men’s sprint race Saturday, four of the five “A” final competitors were Cowboys, with only one WCU skier in that head-to-head heat. John Henry Paluszek, a UW botany graduate student from Farmington, N.H., was first; Silas Goetz, a senior geology major from Lander, was third; and Kaj Taylor, a sophomore in engineering from Palmer, Alaska, placed fourth. The other UW competitor in the finals was Trevor Willoughby, a Casper law student.

In the “B” final, Ben Romanjenko, a microbiology graduate from Story, placed eighth; and Buffalo’s Nathan Kessler, a rangeland management junior, was 10th. Jamison Peacock, from Jackson, was 15th; Laramie’s Spencer Canen was 22nd; and Sean Kraemer, of Evergreen, Colo., took 25th.

The Cowboys finished with a team-low eight points, WCU had 13, and Montana State University (MSU) placed third with 44 points.

Three UW women’s skiers made the final “A” round: Annie Miller, a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minn., finished second; Samantha Veauthier, a Casper freshman, was just edged out at the finish line and settled for fourth place; and one place back in fifth was teammate Eva Smith, from Ohio.

Casper freshman Isabella Brown and Krisanna Andrews, a Laramie junior, made it to the “B” final. The two finished eighth and 10th, respectively. Lander senior Kailee Behunin rounded out the UW women’s scoring in 13th.

The Cowgirls took home the team award with 15 points over WCU’s 19 points and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) 25.

“The sprint was a fantastic way to start the collegiate ski season, with both the UW men and women putting a challenge out to the rest of the conference,” Boggs says. “They skied with power and grace, and just shut down the competition.”

Paluszek claimed the next day’s 10km classic race with a strong sprint to the finish that saw teammate Taylor come in third. Willoughby was fourth, and the Cowboy attack was rounded out with Goetz taking fifth; Kessler, seventh; Canen in 10th; Peacock in 14th; Romanjenko in 18th; and Kraemer in 25th place.

The men again took the team title with eight points, followed by WCU with 13 and MSU with 44.

In the women’s race, Veauthier grabbed her first collegiate podium finish, placing third; Andrews skied to fourth place; and Brown finished her second collegiate race in the top 10. Behunin was 12th, moving up one place from the day before.

The Cowgirls matched their first place, taking the second-day race with a team-low 15 points, edging out runner-up WCU by just one point. The USAFA team placed third with 25 points.

The UW Nordic ski teams are back in action this weekend at the WCU invitational in Crested Butte, Colo.

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