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Published February 22, 2019
The young University of Wyoming men’s Nordic ski team did the unexpected, ending the regular season as conference champions, while the UW women finished as league runners-up.
After six races, the Cowboys, with just one senior in the lineup, took the conference title by just three points over Western Colorado University (WCU), with a team-low 102 points, compared to 105 for WCU. Colorado Mesa University (CMU) placed third with 142 team points.
Just like their male counterparts, the UW women also had a young club this season, but the Cowgirls competed for the top position for most of the season. They wound up in second place with 92 points, only 10 behind WCU, which had 82 points. CMU was third with 173.
For the overall season ranking for individuals, the UW men placed three in the top 10: Casper senior Trevor Willoughby was second; Silas Goetz, of Lander, fourth; and Jackson’s Matt Williams, eighth.
The Cowgirls had five team members in the top 10, led by Kat Gruner, from Casper, fourth; Laramie’s Ella DeWolf, fifth; Sydney Wiswell, from Jackson, sixth; Zoe Noble, of Pinedale, seventh; and Casper’s Maddy Tinker, eighth.
Both teams will prepare for the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) national competition March 12-17 in Jackson.
“We’d love to have some local support for our skiers. We are hoping to improve our fifth team places from last year to be on the team podium this year,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “We also are looking for some great performances from individuals. Trevor, Matt and Silas, as well as Ella, Kat, Sydney and Maddy, all should have a chance of All-American finishes.”
Boggs and Rachel Watson, UW’s other co-head coach, have been selected as head coaches and team leaders for the World University Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, next week. Willoughby qualified for the U.S. team along with qualifier Mason Vincent, of Laramie, a former UW team member who graduated last year.
In the team’s final race, held at the Happy Jack trails last weekend, the Cowgirls were second in the team sprint, which includes three athletes completing three legs of a relay alternating each leg of the race.
The race included the defending national sprint champion and national runner-up, both from WCU.
“The UW women should not have been able to think they could compete, but they did amazing,” Boggs says.
Gruner led the Cowgirls and finished her portion of the race on the heels of the 2018 national runner-up, Rya Berrigan. Gruner then handed off to Tinker, who dropped the WCU competitor in her leg by about 15 seconds. Tinker handed off to DeWolf, who managed to finish a close second to the 2018 national champion, Anna Johnson.
“It went like this for two more rounds, but the WCU team finally was able to wear the Cowgirls down,” Boggs says.
The UW women finished a close second to WCU.
The UW men skied well, dominating the other teams from start to finish. Goetz skied the opening leg, followed by Williams and Willoughby.
In the next day’s 21km freestyle, the Cowgirls placed four team members in the top 10, led by DeWolf in fifth place; Gruner was sixth; Wiswell, seventh; and Noble, ninth.
WCU won the race with a team-low eight points, while the UW women were second with 12.
The UW men took first place by just one point over WCU, 13 to 14.
Willoughby was the race’s runner-up skier, Goetz was fourth, and Williams also finished in the top 10 with a seventh-place finish.