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Published February 24, 2022
There is something to be said about skiing on home trails.
The University of Wyoming men’s and women’s Nordic ski teams swept their respective divisions in the club’s home meet, the Laramie Loppet, last weekend on the Happy Jack trails. In doing so, both the Cowboys and Cowgirls won the seasonlong Rocky Mountain Conference team titles.
The Cowboys won each conference race this winter in recording a team-low 62 points to dominate the league, outdistancing the second- and third-place teams in the eight-team conference. Second went to Western Colorado University (WCU) with 206 points, and the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) recorded 352.
The Cowgirls also had a dominating season, finishing with a league-best 136 points, while USAFA notched 190 points. Third went to WCU with 201.
With conference championships in tow, the UW Nordic ski teams will prepare for the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard National Championships March 8-12 in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
“The men will be challenging the reigning national champions from Castleton University for the overall title,” UW co-head Coach Christi Boggs says. “Our young women’s team will be fighting for a podium finish -- very tough -- but potentially within reach.”
Cowboys qualifying for the postseason competition are Spencer Canen, of Laramie; Silas Goetz, from Lander; Buffalo’s Nathan Kessler; John Henry Paluszek, from Farmington, N.H.; Jamison Peacock and Matthew Williams, both of Jackson; Ben Romanjenko, from Story; and Kaj Taylor, from Palmer, Alaska.
The national Cowgirl qualifiers are Krisanna Andrews, of Laramie; Kailee Behunin, from Lander; Casper’s Isabella Brown and Samantha Veauthier; and Annie Miller, from Minneapolis, Minn.
A classic sprint -- a 1.5km race, featuring both a qualifier and heat races -- opened the Laramie Loppet last Saturday.
The Cowboys dominated the event with Paluszek, Goetz, Taylor and Kessler placing first through fourth in the A final. Paluszek won all of the sprint conference races this season. Peacock and Trevor Willoughby, of Casper, placed 9th and 10th, respectively, in the B final. Williams was 13th; Romanjenko placed 16th; Canen was 18th; Sean Kraemer, of Evergreen, Colo., was 26th; and Ted Rittle, from Laramie, placed 30th.
The Cowboys had a perfect 6 team points for the day, followed by WCU with 16, and USAFA finished with 57.
The Cowgirls also skied well in the morning race. Miller, who is finally healthy, placed second in the women’s competition. She was joined in the A final by Veauthier in fourth place, and Andrews was one place back of her UW teammate. Brown qualified for the B final and placed 10th; Behunin was 13th; and Audrey Whitman, of Laramie, placed 14th.
UW had a team-low score of 11 points, followed by USAFA with 21, and WCU scored 33 points.
Sunday was a 7.5km skate race, the final regular season competition.
The UW men once again dominated with Paluszek, who placed first; Taylor took third; Willoughby was fourth; Goetz and Kessler placed sixth and seventh, respectively; Williams was ninth; Peacock took 14th; Kraemer placed 19th; Canen was 21st; and Rittle placed 28th.
The Cowboys topped the podium with 9 team points, WCU scored 17, and USAFA recorded 55 points.
Eva Smith, a UW graduate student from Ohio, was the runner-up for the UW women, followed by, in order, Veauthier and Miller. Andrews placed sixth; Brown was 10th; Whitman took 13th; and Behunin placed 16th.
The Cowgirls also won the day with 10 team points, and USAFA placed second with 27. Third went to WCU with 33 points.
“This was the conclusion of a fantastic regular season of racing,” Boggs says.
Paluszek was named the Rocky Mountain Conference’s overall points leader with 231, while Goetz was the league’s runner-up with 159. Andrews was the Cowgirls’ top scorer this season to place third overall in the women’s individual conference points standings.