Skiing qualifies six for NCAAs at Midd

Eli Hoenig ’17 clinches second place two inches behind the first place winner at the Middlebury Carnival on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Eli Hoenig ’17 clinches second place two inches behind the first place winner at the Middlebury Carnival on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Jason Lemieux.

The 2016 carnival season ended on Sunday with the Middlebury Carnival. The women raced in a 15k mass start classic race, and the men raced in a 20k version at the Rikert Nordic Center. In the men’s race, Eli Hoenig ’17 continued to make history by tying his own best result from earlier this season of second place in a carnival. Hoenig was three-tenths of a second short from clinching first. In the 10 races this winter, Hoenig finished in the top 10 eighth times.

“The finish was so close you couldn’t tell who won,” Head Coach Jason Lemieux ’01 said. “Apparently there was a two inch difference in when their toes crossed the line. I’d say that’s definitely the closest an Eph male has ever come to winning a carnival race and we are very proud of that.”

Jack Schrupp ’18 and Braden Becker ’19 came in 11th and 12th, while Jordan Fields ’17 and Nick Gardner ’19 finished 14th and 17th, respectively.

For the women’s race, Hannah Benson ’17 had the top Williams finish, placing 15th. Tsaina Mahlen ’17 and Hannah Cole ’17 followed in 21st and 22nd, respectively. Sarah Becker ’18 was not far behind in 25th.

Lemieux, who was just awarded the 2016 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Coach of the Year, remarked that the team saw a lot of success this weekend. This award was voted on by the Association’s coaches.

The previous day, an icy 5k individual start skate race for the women was led for the Ephs by Cole, who came in 16th. Benson was 28th and Becker ensured Williams once again had at least three in the top thirty when she came in 30th place.

In the 10k race for the men, Fields led the men in 11th, while Hoenig came in 13th. Braden Becker ’19 and Schrupp placed consecutively, with Becker in 20th and Schrupp in 21st.

“More than half of our skiers had their best classic races of their careers on Sunday,” Lemieux said. “Any time that many skiers ski their best is a great day for the team. It was very exciting to finish the Carnival on such a high note.”

Meanwhile, the alpine events took place on Friday and Saturday at Snow Bowl Mountain in Middlebury, Vt. In the giant slalom races of Friday, Hannah Hunsaker ’19 was the top Williams finisher, coming in 23rd. Grace Merriman ’19 and Gibson Donnan ’19 also scored in 30th and 35th, respectively.

Bryan Bailey ’19 was the top finisher in the giant slalom events for the Williams men, coming in 26th. Andrew West ’19 and Riley Peek ’17 rounded out the scoring team with 37th and 38th places, respectively.

On Saturday, in slalom,  Hunsaker earned yet another top-10 finish, coming in ninth overall. Donnan finished in 28th and Bailey came in 11th. Marc Talbott ’18 broke into the top 30 finishers as well, placing 26th.

“I am excited about the focus, momentum and improvement the team was able to carry through the season,” Head Coach Kelsey Levine ’03 said. “I can’t wait to bring our two NCAA qualifiers out to Steamboat next week.”

Although most racers are finished for the season, a select few will participate in NCAA Ski Championships next week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Hoenig, Schrupp, Hunsaker and Bailey will all travel to compete.

“Jordan had a great season and raced very well this past weekend, just barely missing out on qualifying,” Lemieux said. “The team will continue searching for snow this week to train on in preparation for the championships.”

The team graduates the following skiers: Nicolette Caravelli ’16, Merritt Harlan ’16, Josh Harrington ’16, Olivia Meyerson ’16 and Eliza Rorabaugh ’16.

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