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Five More All-Americans for Nordic Teams

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Coach Cami Thompson Graves and her Nordic skiers (l-r): Sophie Caldwell, Erika Flowers,...     By Paul Bussi

BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Nordic classical races were on tap today in the third of four days of the NCAA Skiing Championships, and the women’s 15K ended up being decided by a mere one-tenth of a second as Vermont’s Amy Glen barely outdistanced Dartmouth senior Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.) to win the individual title. Each of the top six spots of the women’s race were claimed by the Big Green and Catamounts — the first time two teams took the top six spots at the NCAA Championships — while Dartmouth got a pair of top-10 finishes in the men’s 20K.

The strong showing for the Big Green today helped them move back up to third in the overall standings with 510 points, just 12 behind Utah, which is in second place and 15 ahead of Colorado. Vermont will take a 92-point lead into the final day of competition after winning the women’s race as a team and taking fourth in the men’s race.

With temperatures soaring into the mid-50s by late morning, the course for the women proved to be heavy and demanding. But Dartmouth bolted out of the gate in the mass start with sophomore Annie Hart (Stillwater, Minn.) and Caldwell leading the pack during the first of three laps while senior Erika Flowers (Bozeman, Mont.) began right in the middle of the field. As the race continued, a group of six skiers pulled to the front, led by Caldwell and Hart, along with the three Catamounts skiers and Utah’s Maria Graefnings.

After some jockeying for position, Caldwell emerged in the lead as the leading pack widened. Hart fell back into a comfortable fourth with Vermont’s Amy Glen and Lucy Garrec sandwiched between the two Big Green skiers. Graefnings fell back a bit, along with Caitlin Patterson of UVM, while Flowers gradually worked her way closer and closer to the front.

Coming down the stretch, Glen passed Caldwell before the final stretch. Caldwell had one last kick in her, furiously pumping toward the finish line as Glen fought to hold her off. The pair collapsed in a heap from exhaustion after crossing the tape, and after a review that lasted over 10 minutes, Glen was declared the winner by a margin of no more than two inches, registering a time of 53:32.1. Garrec cruised home in third with Hart 4.5 seconds behind in fourth at 53:58.3, Patterson claimed fifth and Flowers took sixth with a phenomenal burst to catch Graefnings before the finish, besting her by eight-tenths of a second with a time of 54:33.2.

Earlier in the day, the men came through with a successful 20K race as well with senior Eric Packer (Anchorage, Alaska) zipping through the four laps in 57:05.2, fending off Middlebury’s Patrick Johnson and Utah’s Didrik Smith for fourth place. Junior Sam Tarling (Cumberland, Maine) was all alone in ninth with a time of 57:41.8. Rounding out the Dartmouth contingency was senior Gordon Vermeer (Minneapolis, Minn.) in 24th place, sporting a time of 1:00:16.9.

Each of the top-10 performances garnered All-America status for the skiers, with Caldwell, Hart and Packer making the first team, and Flowers and Tarling the second team. All five also earned All-America honors on Wednesday with top-10 finishes in the freestyle races, giving Dartmouth a total of 10 at the championships thus far.

The championship concludes tomorrow with the slalom races at the Bridger Bowl, beginning with the women’s first run at 11:30 a.m. (EST) followed by the men.