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Despite a last-minute change in competition and a different venue, the University of Wyoming men's and women's Nordic ski teams placed second and third, respectively, at last weekend's United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) championships in Bethel, Maine.
The lack of snow Friday caused USCSA officials to shift a 15 km classic race from Friday to Saturday and to another site, moving the team race up a day earlier.
"Despite all that, our guys had a stellar race on Saturday," UW Coach Christi Boggs says.
The Cowboys managed to outpoint St. Olaf College in the USCSA's final event Saturday to overtake the Northfield, Minn., school for the national runner-up trophy. Week-long leader Clarkston College (Potsdam, N.Y.) won its second consecutive national championship with a team-low 57 points, followed by the Cowboys with 87. St. Olaf finished eight points behind UW's men.
It was the Cowboys' fourth national runner-up trophy since 2003 to go along with national championship titles in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Nathan Hough, a Casper sophomore, was UW's top performer in the 15km race with a fourth-place finish, while teammate Kyle Bochanski, a junior from Fairfax, Vt., was one place back. Willie Via, a junior from Fairbanks, Alaska, finished in 12th place.
"Our girls also had a solid day, but unfortunately, Friday's relay race took too much out of them," Boggs says. "It's not the finish they had hoped for."
Both the UW women's and men's teams were unbeaten in regional competition heading into the national finals.
The Cowgirls, who placed third overall, were overtaken on the last day by St. Olaf by just a single point -- 75 to 74. The Clarkson women matched their male counterpart's national title with a low team score of 46.
This is only the second time since 2003 that the Cowgirls have not won the national title or finished as the runners-up.
The Cowgirls were third in the last race of the championships, with three team members placing in the top 16. Cody sophomore Sierra Jech was fourth on the day; Bridget Weiner, a Casper sophomore, placed eighth; and in 11th was Cara Noseworthy, a Medford, N.J., senior.
Two UW men and women each placed among the overall top 10, which combines all race times throughout the week.
Jech, who won the 1.5 km classic sprint on the opening day, placed fourth overall and Weiner seventh. Hough led the Cowboys with his fifth-place showing and Bochanski placed sixth.
"We went into nationals not knowing what would happen because we had so many freshmen and red-shirt freshmen on both teams," Boggs says. "But things went really well for us, I thought. This can only mean good things to come for us next season."