SKI TEAM EYES RETURN TO NCAA TOP-10 FINISH

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire ski team, guided by 24th-year ski coordinator & Nordic head coach Cory Schwartz, will continue its presence as a top Eastern team in the 2009 season, particularly in the alpine discipline, and the Wildcats look to regain status as a top-10 team in the nation when they compete at the NCAA Championships in March.

UNH, which has finished 11th overall in each of the last two NCAA Ski championships, opens the ‘09 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association carnival season Jan. 23-24 at Bates College. The Wildcats will also end the season at those venues, which will be the site of the NCAAs. In between, UNH will compete in five carnivals and that includes the one it will host at Attatash (alpine) and Jackson (Nordic) on Jan. 30-31.

New Hampshire once again boasts one of the strongest alpine squads in the east –and perhaps the nation. Four women and three men have racing experience at the NCAA Championship, and they have garnered a total of seven All-America honors amongst them.

Aileen Farrell (Ottawa, Ontario), a junior, skied to All-America recognition in the slalom in both 2007 and 2008; she finished sixth in the event at the ’08 NCAAs and was seventh in ‘07. In two years of carnival racing, Farrell has recorded nine top-10 finishes and that includes fourth place in the slalom at the 2008 UVM carnival.

Veronique Archambault-Leger
(Verdun, Quebec) has had a highly-decorated two-year career as a Wildcat – she is a two-time NCAA All-Academic Ski Team selection and two-time All-American, as well as two-time Bogner Women’s Alpine Points Champion. Archambault-Leger dominated the slalom races in the ’08 carnival season with one first-place finish, two runner-up finishes, one third-place finish and a fourth-place finish. She also placed second in both alpine disciplines at the EISA Championships and went on to take 13th place in the slalom at the NCAAs.

Emily Capaul
(Campton, N.H.) is another skier with NCAA championship experience. Last year, Capaul capped a successful freshman season with a 16th-place finish in the slalom at the NCAAs, and that came on the heels of her 10th-place finish in that discipline at the EISA Championship.

Cynthia Tessier
(Ste Julienne, Quebec) gained her NCAA championship race experience as a rookie in 2007. She earned All-East Second Team honors that year with six top-10 finishes in the carnival circuit and 21st place in the slalom at the NCAAs. Tessier’s 2008 highlights included 15th place in both the slalom and giant slalom at the EISA championship.

Eilleen Dent (Castorland, N.Y.), a senior, qualified for the ’07 NCAA championship on the strength of top-20 finishes in the slalom and giant slalom at the EISA championship. Dent’s 2008 season highlights included the St. Lawrence Carnival, where she was 13th in the slalom and 17th in the giant slalom.

Aliza Aylward (Waitsfield, Vt.) has had a strong pre-season of racing and fellow junior Alex Norden (Eaton, N.H.) is another skier who has had good pre-season results and could contribute points on the carnival circuit.

Senior Sean McNamara (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) – a three-time All-American, including in ’08 with a 10th-place finish in the giant slalom at the NCAAs – is the leader of the men’s Alpine contingent. He also placed 13th in the slalom at last year’s national championship and garnered All-East Second Team recognition following fourth place (slalom) and 17th-place (giant slalom) at the EISA Championships. The senior recorded three top-5 finishes in the GS during the carnival season, and that included second place at both Williams and St. Lawrence. McNamara also skied at the ’07 NCAAs and was a two-time All-American for his performance at the ’06 NCAAs.

Michael Cremeno (Pembroke, N.H.), another senior, also garnered All-East Second Team recognition last year and skied at the national championship. He recorded three top-10 finishes in the carnival circuit with second place in the giant slalom at Dartmouth and seventh in the GS at Williams, as well as ninth in the St. Lawrence slalom.

Willie Ford (Plymouth, N.H.) has competed at the NCAA Championships both of his years at UNH. Last year, he barely missed out on All-America honors with an 11th-place finish in the slalom; he was 18th in that event at the ’07 NCAAs. Ford joined McNamara and Cremeno on the All-East Second Team last season. He raced to eight top-15 finishes during the carnival season and placed seventh in the GS and 10th in the SL at the Easterns.

Sophomore Ethan Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.) tallied three top-15 finishes a year ago, and that include UNH’s best effort (11th place) in the slalom at the Vermont Carnival.

Incoming freshmen Paul Atkinson (Toronto, Ontario) and Zach Clayton (Manassa, Va.) also have the point to be strong point contributors in the carnival circuit.

“The alpine team is looking very strong this year,” alpine head coach Brian Blank said. “We have had some very good early-season results at the Eastern Cup races.”

Schwartz has high hopes for the Nordic teams.

“I feel the women are among the better teams in the East,” Schwartz said. “We hope to push Dartmouth and will fight Middlebury, UVM each week.”

The women’s Nordic squad is anchored by seniors Sarah Wright (Wyoming, Minn.), Marlijne Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) and Stephanie Bayr (Keene, N.H.). Wright, one of two UNH Nordic skiers to compete at last year’s NCAA championship, recorded four top-10 finishes in the 5K freestyle during the ’08 carnival season. She had two strong races at the Eastern championships with eight place in the 5K free and 13th place in the 10K classic. In ’07, Wright garnered All-East Second Team honors and qualified as an alternate for the NCAAs.

Cook was a consistent point scorer for the ‘Cats last season. She had seven top-20 finishes, including a team-best seventh-place finish in the 15K classic race at the Dartmouth Carnival, in the carnival circuit. Bayr has had her top results in classic races, but she also occasionally contributes points in the free.

Natasha Kullas (Timmins, Ontario) had an impressive rookie year in ’08 that culminated at the NCAAs. She raced to a sixth-place finish in the 10K classic and to 14th place in the 5K free at the EISA Championships. In the carnival season, Kullas recorded two top-10 finishes in classic races and had another top-10 finish in the free discipline.

Katie Miller (Lenox, Mass.), another sophomore, was another consistent point producer for last year’s Wildcats. She finished 12th in the 5K free at the Easterns and had four top-20 finishes in that event during the carnival season.

“Kullas, Cook and Wright look to gain NCAA berths, while Miller and freshmen Danielle McVicar and Danielle Baron will be pushing them. Bayr is a senior who will see a lot of action.”

Schwartz believes the men’s squad, led by Steven Bedard (Cheshire, Mass.) and Dylan McGuffin (Northfield, N.H.), also has the talent and depth to be fighting for a top-three spot in the East.

"We have a few skiers who will be vying for a spot at the NCAAs,” Schwartz said. “Bedard has started well in the New England circuit and has been right with Dartmouth. McGuffin is looking to be in the top 10. Michael Lessard is going to the be the third scorer but will be pushed by Harrison Harb and freshman Dan Guiney.”

Bedard had a solid freshman campaign last season in which he tallied four top-20 finishes. That included ninth in the free sprint and 16th in the 10K classic races at Vermont. Bedard also finished as the top ‘Cat in both races at the Bates Carnival.

McGuffin, a junior, completed his first year as a Wildcat – he transferred from Bates College – at the 2008 Eastern championships with 10th place in the 10K free and 16th in the 15K classic. McGuffin was UNH’s top finisher in four races during the carnival season, and that included a seventh-place finish in the 10K free at Dartmouth.

Lessard, another junior, was one of the top UNH men’s Nordic skiers last season. He raced to a team-best 17th-place finish in the 10K free at St. Lawrence. Lessard’s other season highlights included 19th place in both the 10K free and 20K classic at Dartmouth.

Rounding out the carnival team will be junior Erick Anderson (Maplewood, Minn.) and seniors Shane MacDowell (Peru, Mass.), Andrew Morehouse (North Creek, N.Y.) and Tim Baucom (Contoocook, N.H.).
 

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