Five Ephs combine for 12th place at skiing Div. I NCAA Championships

Five Eph skiiers competed last weekend in the NCAA Championships, held in Middlebury, Vt. The event was incredibly competitive, with UVM as the only eastern school boasting a full team of three skiiers in each category. The University of Colorado won the championship title with 708 points. Williams came in 12th with 143 points.

“It’s a super small field, and everyone is really, really good,” captain Geordie Lonza ’13 said of the competition. “It’s kind of a stressful atmosphere because all the teams are gunning to win.”

The nordic skiiers, represented by Will Wicherski ’15, Isaac Hoenig ’14, Christina Knapp ’13 and Olivia Meyerson ’16 took 12th place as a team, having earned 50 points in Saturday’s freestyle races. Lonza, the sole representative from the alpine team, ended her collegiate career in style, placing eighth in both the slalom and grand slalom races, earning her All-American honors.

Wicherski and Hoenig were the two male competitors for Williams’ nordic team. In the 20k freestyle race, Wicherski took 21st place, completing the difficult course in 51:07.7. Hoenig took 23rd place with a time of 51:13.8. Both Wicherski and Hoenig finished their seasons with impressive performances. Hoenig made his first career appearance in the NCAA Championship and had his highest career finish thus far.

“Both races were super difficult and competitive, but everyone stepped up, raced hard and left everything out on the course,” Hoenig said.

Knapp and Meyerson competed for the women. Knapp broke the top 30, finishing 29th in the 15k freestyle with a time of 41:13.4. Meyerson, ended her season with a 37th-place finish in 42:38.2, a remarkable result that proves that she can compete at the national level.

“Overall it is hard to imagine a better ending to a great season,” Knapp said. “Almost everyone on the team had their best ever results this year, and the attitude stayed positive and encouraging from beginning through the end.”

The week began with two days of training for Lonza before the first alpine race was hosted on Wednesday. A small amount of snow and a little wind covered the hill yet racers were not deterred. The giant slalom hill is the more technical of the two race hills at Middlebury, with a lot of terrain, rolls and blind gates. Despite coming in 12th place after her first run in the giant slalom, Lonza put together a very fast second run to put her in eighth overall, one of her best giant slalom results ever.

Friday’s race once again saw the Williams star place in the top 10. Flying into the finish on her first run, Lonza was in seventh place in the morning yet only .05 of a second out of third. Although a slightly slower second run put her in 12th, Lonza still finished the day in eighth.

With her impending graduation, Lonza leaves an indelible mark on the Williams alpine world as the only Eph to repeat as an All-American since Allison Seed ’94 in 1993-94. Lonza was also named First Team All-East for the third time in her collegiate career and earned All-East recognition for all four years. “She is by all rights one of the best female alpine skiers in the history of our program,” Head Coach Ed Grees said. Although she is officially done with college racing, Lonza will continue to compete over spring break at the North American Cup Finals and U.S. Nationals in Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, Calif.

With the conclusion of the NCAA Championships, the collegiate skiing season is officially over. The nordic team will graduate Casey Jones ’13, Ian Nesbitt ’13, Phil Tosteson ’13 and Knapp. The alpine squad will graduate Kristina Krone ’13, Annie Leiter ’13, Chris Nocek ’13, Marissa Thiel ’13 and Lonza.