Skiing comes in fifth at Middlebury, sends eight to NCAA Championships

The Williams Ski team capped off a solid regular season performance with a strong showing at the Middlebury Carnival, the final meet before the NCAA championships in Utah. The Ephs finished fifth overall out of nineteen teams with 596 points, behind the usual top-four tandem of Vermont, Middlebury, Dartmouth, and New Hampshire, respectively.

Additionally, several fast individual races secured spots in next week’s NCAA Championships for eight Williams skiers: Zoe Unger ’02 and Brad Nichol ’02 from the Alpine team, and Melody Scheefer ’03, Helena Johnson ’00, Erin Graham ’02, Jason Lemieux ’01, P.J. Spina ’00, and Noel Johnson ’01 from the Nordic team.

Matt Holland ’02 also qualified for the Nordic races, but due to a three-entrant per event limit, Holland will not be able to compete. Instead, Holland will attend the National Junior Championships in Jackson, N.H.

“This is the largest qualifying group in cross country for Williams that I can remember,” said Nordic head coach Bud Fisher.

The women’s Nordic skiers, although still successful this past weekend, were a bit off their season pace, finishing sixth in the 5K freestyle and seventh in 15K classic. In the 5K, the Ephs were led by Graham, who placed 17th with a time of 15:54.6. Nine places behind in 26th was Jenny Wetzel ’02 (16:22.6), and two behind Wetzel in 28th was Katie Guernsey ’01 (16:33.3). In the 15K Classic, the women were led by Scheefer, who did not ski her fastest but still finished 19th (1:00:18.1).

After the carnival, Scheefer was named a member of the EISA All-East second Team, for her fourth place finish at UVM and her eighth place finish at Williams. Guernsey followed in twenty-first (1:01:02.4), Johnson was close behind in 26th (1:01:59.2), and Graham was 31st (1:02:46).

The men’s Nordic team skied more to its standards, finishing fourth in both the 10K freestyle and 20K Classic, and beating both UNH and Dartmouth in one of the races. In the 10K, Lemieux and Johnson once again led the Ephs with an eighth and 13th place finish, respectively (27:27.9 and 27:55.1). Captain Spina was right behind, placing 17th (28:12.6). Two other skiers finished in the top 30: Mark Walrod ’01 in 22nd, and Holland in 30th.

In the 20K, Lemieux, Spina, Holland, Johnson, and Ben Connard ’02 all finished in the top 25. Lemieux was ninth (57:33.7), Spina was 16th (58:38.7), Holland was 20th (59:54.5), Johnson was 21st (1:00:09.9) and Connard was 24th (1:01:13.4).

The Alpine team finished the regular season fairly high, after an up-and-down year. The women finished seventh in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom, and the men finished sixth in the Giant Slalom and tenth in the slalom.

The women were led by Kate Leonard ’03, captain Gabriella Thiele ’00, Sarah Murray ’03 and Rebekah Levine ’03. Leonard finished fastest for the Ephs in the slalom, coming in 23rd (1:31.80, combined), and came in 27th, second fastest for the Ephs, in the giant slalom (1:03.69). Thiele was fastest for the Ephs in the giant slalom, coming in 26th (1:03.58). She was also 30th in the giant slalom (1:34.07). Murray finished 32nd in the giant slalom (1:03.87), and Levine finished 31st in the slalom (1:34.46).

Nichol led the men in both races, finishing 14th in the giant slalom (58:02, one run only) and 16th in the slalom (1:12.99). Nichol was followed in the giant slalom by sophomore J.J. Hanley, who finished 24th (58:67); Hanley was disqualified in the slalom. Also finishing the season strong for the Ephs were Alex Hood ’02 and Mitchell Green ’03.

Both the Nordic and Alpine teams are young and look ahead to next year to improve on what was a very solid season.

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