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Published March 04, 2020
Fresh off regular-season conference championships, the University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams now set their sights on the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) championships March 10-14 in Lake Placid, N.Y. -- home of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
The Cowgirls won the overall conference team title by 47 points, scoring a season-low 80 points to outpace runner-up Western Colorado University (WCU, Gunnison, Colo.), which had 127 points. Third went to Colorado Mesa University (CMU, Grand Junction, Colo.) with 181 points.
The Cowboys were equally as dominant this season, taking the team title with 84 points. WCU placed second with 107 points, and CMU totaled 166.
“We have qualified more people than ever before in UW Nordic history for the national championships,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “We will be taking nine men and 11 women. The field at this year’s national competition will be extremely tough.”
Boggs says the defending national men’s champion, Castleton (Vt.) University, returns its entire team, while the women’s top team, St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minn.), graduated its top two skiers.
Boggs adds that she and co-head Coach Rachel Watson are excited about the team’s chances.
“It should be a fantastic nationals,” Boggs says. “Rachel and I also are extremely proud that this is the first team in UW Nordic history to have every athlete make the Academic All-American Team. All the athletes have a GPA of 3.3 and higher. They’re not only fantastic skiers, but also incredible students.”
The UW teams wrapped up the regular season last weekend with their annual home meet at the Happy Jack ski trails.
Saturday was the sprint race, which consists of a qualifying race where the top 30 skiers compete in the quarterfinals, running in five heats of six. The top two from each heat and the next two fastest competitors move on to the semifinals, where 12 skiers race. The top two in each heat and the next fastest move to the “A” final for the top five racers.
“The field is cut more than half after the quarterfinals, making that the toughest round to move on,” Boggs says. “Everyone on our team went on to the quarterfinals, and then the huge cut happened.”
Making it to the semifinals were Silas Goetz, a Lander sophomore; sophomore Matthew Williams, from Jackson; Nathan Kessler, a Buffalo freshman; and Dongyong Han, a Shanghai University of Sport (SUS) visiting scholar. Goetz easily won his semifinal heat, and Williams had the fastest third-place time to move on to the “A” final. Kessler fell in the race but still managed to qualify for the “B” final.
Goetz and Williams placed third and fifth, respectively, and Kessler was eighth to help lead the men to the overall team title on the day.
Seven Cowgirls qualified for the semifinals, meaning more than half of the field were Cowgirls.
In the first semifinals race, Laramie sophomore Ella DeWolf easily won her heat, while teammate Kat Gruner, a Casper sophomore, followed closely in second. SUS competitor Xiaorun Duan fell during the race but managed sixth place. Lai Mei Wang, also an SUS athlete, just managed to squeak into the “B” final.
In the second semifinal race, UW’s Maddy Tinker, a Casper sophomore, and Lander sophomore Morgan Robins were first and second. Sloan Dworian, an Anchorage, Alaska, sophomore, took sixth in the heat.
The Cowgirls dominated the “A” finals, taking the top four positions: DeWolf was first, Tinker second, Gruner third, and fourth went to Robins. SUS athlete Lai Mei Wang, who just learned to ski in October, placed seventh overall on the day after placing second in the “B” finals.
The Cowgirls had a perfect six points for the race.
Sunday’s competition was a mass start 10km freestyle race.
Williams, who won for the second time this season, broke away from the pack late to edge WCU’s Ty Haroldsen, who won the sprint the day before. The rest of the UW men also skied well, with Goetz and Kessler placing fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Cowboys won the day by five points over WCU. Individually, Williams was the conference’s overall runner-up in points, Goetz placed fourth, and Kessler was sixth.
With DeWolf resting in preparation for nationals, Gruner stepped up to place second in the women’s competition. Tinker, Robins and Michaela Forty, a Westford, Mass., freshman, placed 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively. Without DeWolf in the lineup, the Cowgirls were second to WCU on the day.
DeWolf dominated the season to take home the overall leader bib. Gruner was second in the overall individual points standing, Tinker was seventh, and Robins placed ninth.