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Published February 16, 2022
Even competing at 11,000 feet could not stop the University of Wyoming Nordic ski teams from racing to another successful outing.
The UW men’s team remained as the seasonlong regional leader after dominating the Colorado State University Invitational in Leadville, Colo., last weekend.
Competing in an 8.5km classic race at 11,000 feet in elevation that made it extremely difficult, according to co-head Coach Christi Boggs, the UW men’s team still dominated the competition Sunday afternoon at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. The Cowboys took the top four spots to place eight of 10 team members in the top 10.
Finishing first through fourth, respectively, were John Henry Paluszek, from Farmington, N.H.; Kaj Taylor, from Anchorage, Alaska; Buffalo’s Nathan Kessler; and Silas Goetz, from Lander. Jamison Peacock, of Jackson, was sixth. Spencer Canen, of Laramie; Sean Kraemer, of Evergreen, Colo.; and Ben Romanjenko, from Story, placed eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.
The Cowboys finished with a team-low 6 points, followed by Colorado Mesa University’s 29 points and the United States Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) 34.
The women also skied well, with Krisanna Andrews, of Laramie, skiing to the first win of her career, beating Ruby Lamb, of Colorado College, by 30 seconds. Casper’s Samantha Veauthier completed UW’s domination of the top place winners on the podium by placing third. Isabella Brown, also of Casper, finished seventh, and Lander’s Kailee Behunin rounded out the women’s top-10 place winners in 10th.
The Cowgirls won the competition with a team-best low score of 11 points, edging Colorado College, which scored 15. USAFA placed third overall with 24 points.
The day before, a team sprint was held at the Mt. Massive Nordic Center, also in Leadville. The competition featured a relay of three athletes from each team who alternated turns on the course until the individual skiers completed the 1.6km loop three times. A total of nine loops were completed for each three-person squad.
“This was the last race of nationals (a qualifier), and it is super important for competing for the overall qualification. So, it was great practice,” Boggs says. “The UW skiers are getting stronger and faster every week.”
The Cowboys’ team -- composed of Goetz, Taylor and Paluszek -- dominated the relay in 34:35.9, lapping every team except two. The two they did not lap included UW’s No. 2 team of Romanjenko, Peacock and Kessler, who finished runner-up in the race.
The UW men again claimed first place with 6 points, Colorado College scored 15, and USAFA had 24 points.
“(Co-head Coach) Rachel Watson asked them to execute the perfect race; they accepted the challenge and produced an outstanding result,” Boggs says.
“Our UW women had a harder time but skied extremely well,” Boggs adds. “They fought with Colorado College’s No. 1 team the whole race but ended up second.”
The Cowgirls’ team of Veauthier, Brown and Andrews completed the race in 46:15.6, nearly 30 seconds out of first place.
Colorado College won the day with 6 points, while the UW women were the runners-up with 15 points. Third went to USAFA with 24.
The UW Nordic ski club hosts the next Rocky Mountain Conference race -- the annual Laramie Loppet -- Feb. 19-20 at the Happy Jack trails. A classic sprint begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, and a 7.5km skate race starts at 9 a.m. Sunday.