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Published March 09, 2018
The University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams will not win the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association Collegiate National Championships this week in Lake Placid, N.Y. However, individual team members will end their college careers as some of the program’s best skiers.
The UW women are in fifth place overall with 127 points through the three individual races. Defending national champion St. Olaf (Northfield, Minn.) leads with 58 points, while Western State Colorado University (WSCU, Gunnison, Colo.) is second with 70 points.
The Cowboys also are in fifth place with 122 team points. WSCU leads the men’s division with 61 points and St. Olaf’s is second with 89.
In the final individual event Friday, the Cowboys and Cowgirls wrapped up the week with the 15km classic mass start. Saturday’s final event will be the team relay, which could position the Cowgirls for a top-four team finish. The Cowboys had won the past three national men’s titles, while the UW women were national runners-up last season.
“It was an amazing day for us on Friday,” UW co-head Coach Rachel Watson says. “The most perfect classic conditions you can possibly imagine. Fresh snow, fairly cold and dry, light snow falling. Beautiful.”
The course laid out in the Adirondack Mountains was challenging, with 5km of a hilly, up-and-down course that finished with 2.5km of flat skiing, which competitors had to tackle twice.
With the men competitors first, Laramie’s Mason Vincent skied hard with the lead pack and finished fourth in the final individual race of his collegiate career to earn first-team All-America status.
In all, the Pokes' skier has had 11 All-America finishes in 12 races. He also has been national champion three times in his career and a member of three consecutive national championship teams.
“He hangs up his skis as a Cowboy -- although we hope not for good -- as one of the most successful skiers in UW Nordic history,” co-head Coach Christi Boggs says.
Trevor Willoughby, of Casper, had a good race Friday, skiing into seventh place.
“After losing touch with the lead pack early, he then gained on the leaders throughout the rest of the race,” Boggs says. “It was a great race from Trevor. He skied strong and really put the hammer down.”
The Cowboys only had three men competing at nationals this week. Even though he did not place, Laramie’s Nick Edwards had his best race of the week, skiing well above his ranking, the coaches say.
The Cowgirls also had their best race of the week. Ella DeWolf, of Laramie, skied the classic race well, just missing the top 10 by one place. Four of her UW teammates placed among the top 20: Jackson’s Sydney Wiswell skied into 12th; Leann Bentley, of Laramie, 15th; Casper freshman Maddy Tinker, 17th; and Morgan Robins, from Lander, 19th.
The Cowgirls placed fourth in the day’s race to move into fifth overall in the national team standings.
“If they can place higher than Cornell Saturday, they can take fourth overall,” Boggs says.
This was Bentley’s final race of her UW career.
“Leann has served as team president this past season and done a phenomenal job creating an incredibly positive dynamic on the team, as well as keeping all the wheels turning and the team moving forward,” Boggs says. “Leann has mentored this young women’s team and, when they eventually win the team title, she will have had a large piece of getting them there.”
More than 500 athletes are competing for national collegiate titles in alpine, Nordic, snowboard and free ski events at nationals this week.