UW Men Retain Lead to Close in on National Nordic Championship

March 8, 2013
Two men skiing
University of Wyoming Nordic club team members Kyle Bochanski of Fairfax, Vt., left, and Nathan Hough, a Casper junior, are first and second in the overall individual standings at the United States Collegiate Ski Association championships in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Photo by Jerry Jech)

With just one event left, the University of Wyoming Nordic club men’s team is all but guaranteed a national championship after Friday’s 15-kilometer skate race at the 35th annual United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA) championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Despite finishing second to St. Olaf College in Friday’s race, the Pokes have an insurmountable 24-point lead over the runner-up team, Clarkson University of Potsdam, N.Y., in the overall standings.

The USCSA championships conclude with Saturday’s three-by-5K relay.

“Our men’s team is so far ahead right now that it really looks good for them going into the final relay Saturday,” co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “It will be really tough for anybody to catch them. As long as they can get through that relay in good shape, they should be able to win the whole thing.”

St. Olaf won the week’s third race with a team-low 11 points, while the Cowboys had 15. In the overall standings, the UW men lead with 32 points, while Clarkson has 56 points for second place. St. Olaf is third with 74.

Led by the second- and third-place efforts of Nathan Hough, a Casper junior, in the 15km race, and senior Kyle Bochanski of Fairfax, Vt., the Cowboys kept a stranglehold on the overall lead. Patrick Rodgers, a Casper junior, finished in 11th place and Willie Via, a Fairbanks, Alaska, senior, placed 17th.

Both Hough and Bochanski again earned All-America honors. The top 10 finishers in both the women’s and men’s divisions in each individual race, plus the final relay competition, earn All-America honors.

If the UW men hang on to their huge lead, they will win the school’s fourth national championship since Nordic skiing was brought back nearly 15 years ago. The Pokes’ previous national titles came in 2006, 2009 and 2010.

The Cowgirls won’t join their UW men’s counterparts as national champions, but they almost assuredly will be among the top two in the final USCSA standings.

The St. Olaf women’s team dominated Friday’s event with a team-low six points to widen their overall lead against the runner-up Cowgirls. The UW women had 17 points on the day and Colorado Mesa College was third with 26.

St. Olaf’s leads the pack for the national championship with 32 points, while the Cowgirls have 48.

“Our girls are in a really tough spot going into the final relay, but they have second place sewn up. We’re really proud of them,” Boggs says.

Three UW women earned All-America honors after Friday’s race. Cody junior Sierra Jech led the Cowgirls, finishing fourth, while Bridget Weiner, a Casper junior, was one place back. Laramie senior Catherine Schmidt came in fourth. Also finishing among the top 20 skiers were Sarah Johnson, a junior from Duluth, Minn., in 12th place, and freshman Britta Schroeter, of Ironwood, Mich., in 14th.

In the overall individual standings, Bochanski is the national leader after three races, while Hough is the national runner-up. Rodgers is fifth overall.

For the Cowgirls, Weiner is third in the overall individual points standings; Jech is fifth, Johnson seventh and Schroeter ninth.

“All our kids skied so well Friday,” Boggs says. “We have some tired skiers out there, but we’re looking forward to the relay on Saturday.”

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