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The effort wasn't as rousing as on the opening day of competition, but the University of Wyoming's Nordic ski teams did enough Wednesday to remain in contention at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSSA) Nationals at Black Mountain near Rumford, Maine.
The Cowboys held on to their overall national lead despite finishing second to St. Olaf College in Wednesday's 8.5km skate race. The Northfield, Minn., school finished with 18 points, while UW scored 24 and Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.) finished third at 28.
UW's second place finish Wednesday didn't hurt the Cowboys' chances to repeat as USCSSA national champions. The UW men remained the overall leaders with 33 points -- a comfortable 10-point margin over Clarkson University, while St. Olaf is third with 45.
The Cowboys placed three individuals among the top 11 in the 8.5km skate competition. John Kirlin of Casper had UW's highest finish in fourth place and was followed by teammates Evgeniy Panzhinskiy from Khabaravsk, Russia, in ninth and Elia Pedersen of Lander was 11th.
In the women's competition, the Cowgirls slipped one place to third overall. Both St. Olaf and Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.) share the overall lead with 32 points apiece and the Cowgirls are just six points out with 38.
St. Olaf won the 8.5km race with 10 points, Whitman College was 10 points back and the UW women were third with 23. Jackson's Gracey Lewis was the Cowgirls' top skier with a fourth-place finish. Teammates Gwynn Barrows of Laramie and Marie Cartwright from Lander were eighth and 11th, respectively.
"We were kind of tired. We didn't have the best day, but everyone really hung in there," UW Coach Christi Boggs said. "We still had some solid performances. The guys are still in first place overall and the girls are within striking distance."
Only two races remain at the USCSSA national meet. Skiers have Thursday off and will resume action Friday with a 15km classic followed by Saturday's 3.5km relay.
Since 2003, the UW men have won two national titles and have been the runners-up three times. The Cowgirls have captured four USCSSA national titles and also are two-time national runners-up.