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The defending national champion University of Wyoming men's Nordic ski team is the early leader after the first day of competition Tuesday at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSSA) Nationals at Black Mountain near Rumford, Maine.
The Cowboys placed three individual skiers in the top 10, including first and second, in the opening 1.5km classic sprint race. The UW men scored a team-low 9 points. Clarkson College (Potsdam, N.Y.) and St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minn.) are second and third behind the UW men, but remaining team points were unavailable.
UW's Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, whose brother Alexander, representing Russia, won the cross-country men's individual sprint silver medal at the recent Winter Olympics, was the top overall skier at the USCSSA's first day of competition. Teammates Daniel Lewis of Jackson was the runner-up and Lander's Eliah Pedersen came in seventh.
The UW women, who are also the defending national champions, had a strong opening day, as well. The Cowgirls are currently in second place with 15 points, trailing leader Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.) by just three points. St. Olaf is third in the standings with 22 points.
Daniel Lewis' sister, Gracey, was the overall women's winner, while Gwynn Barrows of Laramie was third and teammate Marie Cartwright of Lander placed third.
Skiers in both the men's and women's divisions had to endure two preliminary rounds with top skiers from those to heats moving on to the finals.
"It was a good day and we skied very, very well," said UW Coach Christi Boggs. "It was fantastic that we were able to get the top men's and women's individual winners."
Action resumes Wednesday with an 8.5km skate.