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The University of Wyoming men's and women's Nordic ski teams both placed third at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) Nationals last weekend in Black Mountain, Maine.
The Cowgirls and Cowboys both finished behind St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minn., and Clarkson College of Potsdam, N.Y. The UW women were the defending national champions and the men placed second a year ago.
"It was an extremely difficult week on really tough trails and in horrific conditions, rain, sleet, freezing rain, snow, etc. The athletes skied amazingly and really hung in there, even in their tough races," says Coach Christi Boggs, a UW Outreach Credit Programs assistant lecturer. "But overall, it was a fantastic week of racing and these athletes made UW proud."
Both the Cowgirls and Cowboys turned in strong individual performances.
In the overall women's standings, twin sisters Katie and Liz Turner, juniors from Chugiak, Alaska, placed seventh and ninth, respectively, while teammate Marie Cartwright, a Lander freshman, placed 10th.
On the men's side, Casper sophomore John Kirlin had the best overall finish for the Cowboys, placing third, followed by Lander senior Brian Sebade in ninth place and Jacob Peterson, Lander sophomore, 11th.
During the week, the UW teams compiled 17 individual All-America finishes and five overall All-America placings. Cartwright; Laramie freshman Michael Fitzgerald; Erin Hammer, Lander sophomore; Karyn Liebsch, Maple Grove, Minn., freshman; Adam Kargas, Grand Rapids, Mich., freshman; Jacob Peterson; Pinedale freshman; Mae Peterson; and Katie Turner, all earned Academic All-America honors.
Late last week in the classic ski race, Katie Turner placed ninth overall and was followed by just four-tenths of a second by Hammer. In 11th and 12th, just 16 and 19 seconds back, were Cartwright and Liz Turner. Liebsch and Mae Peterson finished 18th and 19th, respectively, for the Cowgirls.
"It was an amazing pack race that showed potential for the women's team for next year," Boggs says. "Only Katie and Mae will graduate and Marie and Karyn are just freshmen."
In the men's race, Kirlin skied to his third first-team All-America finish in fourth place, just five seconds out of third. Sebade placed 12th, only 10 seconds out of a top 10 finish. He was followed by Jacob Peterson, 19th, Nicholai Smith, junior from Chugiak, Alaska, 20th, Justin Kinner, Casper sophomore, 30th, Fitzgerald 31st, Patrick Richards, junior, Clear Creek, Colo., 34th, and Kargas 36th.
The Cowboys had enough qualifiers to field two teams.
"It was a tough day for the men in an extremely competitive race that had 20 men finish in the first two minutes," Boggs says. "This team will only get stronger. Only Brian Sebade graduates and Justin, Michael and Adam are only freshmen."
The final race was a relay event with the three-member teams all racing a 5km leg. The first leg was a classic and the last two were skate. The UW women were able to field two full relay teams.
Competing for UW Team One were Mae Peterson, Katie Turner and Hammer, who finished third. For UW Team Two, Liz Turner, Liebsch and Cartwright placed sixth.
The men also fielded two teams.
Leading the way for UW Team One were Sebade, Jacob Peterson and Kirlin, who were a close second, finishing just two inches short of the winning St. Olaf team. Kinner, Fitzgerald and Smith took seventh for UW Team Two.
Action at the USCSA Nationals began last Tuesday with a 1.4km classic technique sprint race. After qualifying in an early round, Katie Turner placed fourth in the A competition, while sister Liz took seventh in the B competition. Mae Peterson was the only other Cowgirl to reach the finals, placing 16th in the A race.
Kirlin just missed winning the national men's A title in the classic technique sprint in another photo finish. Jacob Peterson took sixth in the B men's final. Fitzgerald placed 12th, Kargas 29th and Patrick Richards 32nd.
Overall, both the UW women's and men's team placed third.
The 15km classic mass start was held last Wednesday. The UW Cowgirls again took third led by Mae Peterson's eighth-place finish. She was followed closely by Katie Turner in ninth, Liz Turner 13th, Cartwright 16th and Hammer 17th.
The UW Cowboys also took third in the men's race. Kirlin once again led the team with a third place finish, followed by Kinner in ninth, Jacob Peterson 12th, Sebade 13th, Smith 22nd, Fitzgerald 33rd, Richards 37th and Kargas 39th.