Go Utes!
Go Utes!
Ute Skiers Race To Fifth At West Regionals

Sophomore Nicole Naef

Sophomore Nicole Naef

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Feb. 26, 2005

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- The University of Utah ski team holds on to fifth-place at the NCAA West Regional Championships. Utah gave a valiant effort knowing illness continues to plague the cross country team. The Utes finalized the Regional Championships after skiing in the men's and women's slalom and freestyle events.

"I was really impressed how the entire team came out and charged today," said Head Coach Kevin Sweeney. "I had to make some final team selections for the NCAA Championships from this weekend and it was a hard thing to do."

Denver (560) never looked back as they took home another first-place finish. The Lobos of New Mexico (530) were unable to catch the Pioneers, but placed second. Colorado (486.5) jumped a spot to take third, while Alaska-Anchorage's (486.5) nordic team kept them in the hunt as the Seawolves finished fourth. The shorthanded Utes (406.5) skied to fifth wrapping up the 2005 Regional Championships.

Utah's nordic team was still without the help of skiers Daniel Sonntag, Casey Simons and Sandra Gredig due to illness, but several skiers stepped up and produced good results in the grueling freestyle races. The women's cross country team posted all four skiers in the top -16.

Sophomore Nicole Naef piloted the women's team skating to a ninth-place finish with in a time of 46:10.3 in the 15-km FS. Junior Ashley McQueen notched 13th in 46:54.0, while junior Linda Pettersson raced to her best FS finish of the season, placing 15th in 47:45.9. Senior Barbro Hatlevik captured a 16th-place performance with a time of 47:51.4.

The men's cross country team was once again led by junior standout Magnus Carlsson's 11th-place finish in 55:24.1 in the 20-km FS. Jess Kiesel garnered 24th in 58:26.3 and Tony Bozzio was clocked in at 1:00:06.5 to finish 31st.

"There were some great individual results and the women's team skied very strong," said Sweeney. "Our morale was a little low going into today knowing we had so many skiers out with sickness, however the athletes responded very well.

"It was tough distance racing, but I'm proud of how this group skied today. I could not have asked for better effort. The group sidelined by illness are making good recovery. I think it was the right choice to sit them out though our team score definitely suffered. We are optimistic in preparing for NCAAs. This weekend was a good mental test for us too."

Senior Rowena Hyldahl

The women's alpine team torched the slalom race, finishing with three skiers in the top-15. Senior Rowena Hyldahl has exploded in the latter part of the season, this time placing seventh with a two-run time of 1:32.20. All-American April Mancuso came in right behind teammate Hyldahl, skiing to ninth in 1:32.66, while fellow All-American Lina Johansson finished with a 14th-place performance in 1:35.75. Senior Elisha Stephens ended the weekend by grabbing 19th in 1:39.23, while sister Kim Stephens skied to 28th.

"The women had a great weekend," remarked Head Alpine Coach Aaron Atkins. "The seniors had a great last college race and it was good to see them ending on such a good note. They all skied great and I was very happy with the results."

The men's downhill squad had somewhat of a tough day, but senior All-American Ben Thornhill managed to climb into the top-10. The Whistler, British Columbia, native skied third in the second run of the SL and tied for ninth overall with a time of 1:39.17. Skiers Gaspar Perricone and Mark Heinrich-Wallace ended up having to "hike" and placed 41st and 43rd respectively.

"We had a difficult time on the men's side today," added Atkins. "I was happy with the effort and overall we had some good individual results this weekend. We are looking forward to seeing what we can do at the NCAAs."

Next up, Feb. 26, the Ute skiers will prepare for the 2005 NCAA Championships at the Stowe Mountain Resort and the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont from March 9-12. Events will be held all day.

NCAA West Regional Team Scores: 1. Denver 560; 2. New Mexico 530; 3. Colorado 486.5; 4. Alaska Anchorage 449.5; 5. Utah 406.5; 6. Montana State 354; 7. Nevada 334; 8. Whitman 237; 9. Western State 221.5; 10. Boise State 72.



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