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Chris Zablocki and Sasha Nanji Named Dartmouth Athletes of the Week

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Athlete of the Week Archive

Each week, will spotlight two outstanding student-athletes - one male, one female - as Dartmouth's Athletes of the Week. Student-athletes may be chosen based upon their efforts both on and off the field of competition.

The end of one career and the beginning of another highlighted the week in Dartmouth athletics as runner Chris Zablocki (Essex, Conn.) and skater Sasha Nanji (Markham, Ont.) have been named Dartmouth Athletes of the Week. Zablocki, a senior, closed out his career with a 14th place finish at NCAA Regionals. Nanji, a freshman on the women's hockey team, had a four-point weekend for the Big Green.

Dartmouth Male Athlete of the Week:
Chris Zablocki (Essex, Conn.) Cross Country, Senior

Senior Chris Zablocki (Essex, Conn.) finished his Dartmouth career with his best race in recent memory. He was the top harrier with a 14th-place finish at 31:24 and led the Big Green to a fifth-place finish overall, beating out 31 other teams at the event. Dartmouth had its chance to knock off Heps Champion Columbia, but fell just 10 point shy of the Lions. Zablocki also had an opportunity to earn a trip the NCAA Championships at Indiana State, however, it was not to be as his career came to end, but on a high note.

Take me through your race on Saturday?
I took it out under control, and for the first 5k just stayed a little behind my teammate Tom (Robbins), right on the top-two Columbia guys because all of us really wanted to beat them after they won Heps and beat us. Then the last 5k I tried to just keep running down people in front of me one after the next. The many Dartmouth people cheering definitely helped with that. Eventually I passed my old high school teammate Forrest who runs for Syracuse, and got right behind the best Cornell guy. Then with around a quarter mile to go I passed him and started going for the top Brown guy. Then I fell in the mud and he passed me back. I got up as quick as I could and kept going all out, but then another guy in a green uniform passed me and I couldn't find any more power to match him. So I ended up being first to miss the national championship, in addition to the team being second out of it. And a few feet before the finish Forrest passed me, which meant I lost the secret bet we had made before the race.

The weather conditions were terrible with all the rain. How much does that affect your mindset going into the race and once you get out there?
The stormier and muddier it is, the happier it makes me and the better I perform. I think it is that way with a lot of guys on our team. Our team races on the Boston course a lot, so before the race I was very confident about our chances to beat Columbia, even Providence, and make the national championship.

How would you grade your season and the team's year?
Better than my current grade in German - but I don't think we exceeded anyone's expectations, and that is obviously what we seek to accomplish every time we get on the starting line. We wanted to win Heps, and even more to make the national championship, and we didn't realize either goal, even though I still believe we could have if our fourth and fifth men had run faster in some key races.

Being a senior and looking back, how was your experience as a member of the Big Green cross country team?
Really Awesome! My teammates are my best friends. We always were at least close to getting big wins. There's no better place to hammer out tons of 20+ mile days than all the trails on Oak Hill and the logging roads up at the Grant. And at Dartmouth the athletic and academic aspects of college mesh very well, as long as one stays focused on the goals one wants to achieve in each. Maintaining focus and consistency has been pretty hard, between being in season every term and maintaining triple digit weekly mileage even during off terms, the distractions presented by the Greek system, the many interesting programs abroad, and the difficulty of some classes. But for me and many of my teammates, our team atmosphere makes it worth it. My only regret is that despite giving it our all, my classmates and I never won Heps or qualified for Nationals, something I really expected after seeing the team get 15th at the Championship the year I decided to come to Dartmouth.

Dartmouth Female Athlete of the Week:
Sasha Nanji (Markham, Ont.), Women's Hockey, Defense, Freshman

Freshman Sasha Nanji (Markham, Ont.) was one of the catalysts this past weekend, helping the Big Green post a 1-1 record with a win over 10th-ranked Princeton on Friday night. She got things started with Dartmouth's first goal and her first collegiate tally midway through the opening period. Nanji made the initial shot that got stopped, but she stayed with it and beat the netminder for the 1-0 lead. She then followed that with an assist on a power play goal from senior Sarah Toupal (White Bear Lake, Minn.). Nanji finished the weekend with her second assist coming against Quinnipiac in a tough 2-1 loss to the Bobcats. She leads all defensive players on the Big Green with four points and is second in ECAC Hockey among blueliners with 0.67 points per game.

You scored your first collegiate goal against Princeton on Friday. How did it feel and did you think you would score this early in the season?
It felt absolutely amazing especially with a big win go along with it! With all the chances I've been getting in our first four games, I was disappointed it didn't come any earlier.

Your team has beaten two ranked teams so far this season, what was the key to success in those games?
The key to success in those games is just following Coach Hudak's game plan and each of us showing up to play (as a team!) every shift and wanting it more than the other team. We seem to be getting a lot of shots on net and perhaps outplaying teams even in some of the losses we've suffered. We've just got to do a better job penetrating the offensive zone particularly in front of the net, and get some quality shots on net. If we can do a better job in this area, we should be able to win our share of games.

When you have the puck on the blueline on the power play or on an offensive set? Are you looking to score or find some one in front to tip home a pass?
When you shoot on net, anything can happen! I prefer looking for an open teammate down low (perhaps a back-door play), but if I don't see an open teammate, I will not hesitate to take a shot on net from the blueline and hope for a tip-in or have one of my forwards get a rebound and tuck it in the net.

You are now three weeks into your first season. Is it what you thought it would be and have you enjoyed it?
Yes, I have absolutely loved every aspect of life here at Dartmouth. It is truly a privilege to be here academically, socially, and of course athletically. We have some of the very best professors right here at Dartmouth; the very best coaching staff in the league; and an amazing bunch of young people who I now call family.