Utah junior Miles Havlick won his first career national championship in the men's 20k classical on Friday.
March 9, 2012
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BOZEMAN, Mont. - Junior Miles Havlick claimed his first career national title in the men's 20k classical race to help the University of Utah ski team maintain second place in the team standings after the third day of the NCAA Championships at the Bohart Ranch.
The Utes have scored 522 points in the meet and maintain their second-place position by 12 points over Dartmouth. Vermont is in first place heading into the final day with 614 points through three events, 98 points ahead of Utah.
"Today was a fierce day of competition that will leave everyone present in awe," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "For the Utes, it was a rollercoaster. We opened in the men's race with amazing results, a national champion and two on the podium in All-America standings. Misfortune struck as well as I did not give the women as much kick wax as was needed to stay in contention. Vermont and Dartmouth especially capitalized and had excellent results. I commend their staff and athletes. It was not about effort on our behalf. We were pushing more than 100% and I could not be more impressed with the fortitude and preference demonstrated. We are in the medal round hunt for sure and I am excited for the potential that lays ahead with our superb Alpine squad to wrap up the competition. I cannot thank my staff and athletes enough for putting it on the line today. I am super proud to lead the Utes today in an amazing third day of competition."
Utah led all schools with 96 points in the men's 20k classical race. Havlick earned his first career national title by 1.5 seconds over Montana State's David Norris. This was Havlick's second win of the season and the sixth of his career and he is now a five-time All-American. The Boulder, Colo., native has finished third or better 11 times this season and 19 times over her career.
"Today was incredible. It was like a dream," Havlick said. "Conditions were perfect. The sun was shining and my skis could not have been better. Huge thanks to Kevin [Sweeney] and Abi [Holt] for their hard work this week. This team has been unbelievable this season. Huge thanks to everyone for making it up to Bozeman and supporting us. It's been an amazing week and season."
Senior Didrik Smith turned in his second straight sixth-place finish to earn his fifth career All-American honor. He has finished sixth or better in his last four races at the NCAA Championships and has placed 10th or better 10 times this year and 23 times during his career at Utah.
Senior Tom Smith followed in 31st place to complete the Ute effort in the men's race.
"This championship event has been an amazing ride, and every single athlete on this team will go home with a story to tell this week," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "Watching Miles win the race today after falling and breaking a pole was unbelievably exciting. And this means that Miles and Maria will both go home as national champions. Didrik has skied his way to two All-American finishes, Rose and Parker have fought to finish these races after being hit hard with food poisoning early in the week, and Tom literally hit a tree in a ridiculously unlucky fall today. Really, I cannot say enough good things about this team. Heading home, my only regrets this week are that they have not all had a healthy, clean shot at racing the best races they are capable of, but I could not be more proud of this group's efforts."
On the women's side, Utah earned 54 points in the women's 15k classical race.
Senior Maria Graefnings was the first Ute to finish as she took seventh. The Falun, Sweden native has been in the top 10 eight times in 2012 and 20 times over her career at Utah.
"This was a rough day for me," Graefnings said. "I did not feel as well as I hoped, but I am super happy for Miles and Didrik. And I am stoked for my win in the skate race."
The NCAA Championships conclude tomorrow with the slalom races at the Bridger Bowl. Watch all the action live at ncaa.com.