MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — A quartet of Dartmouth skiers finished in the top 10 of the two Nordic races to conclude the NCAA Championships on Saturday afternoon at the Rikert Nordic Center, allowing the Big Green to climb one more spot up the team standings into fifth place. Mary O’Connell (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) had the highest finish for Dartmouth in fourth place of the women’s 15K free, while senior Sam Tarling led the Big Green men in the 20K by taking seventh.
Colorado won the team title with 708 points, while Utah — on the strength of having its three men finish in the top five today — leapfrogged two teams into second with 665. The leader at the beginning of the day with a 54-point lead, Vermont, fell back to third with 653. Denver laid claim to fourth with 629 and Dartmouth moved up to fifth with 594, thanks to 189 on this final day of the competition, to vault ahead of New Mexico’s 579.
The women raced first, and gradually a pack of four skiers emerged with O’Connell among them. While three of the four in the pack jockeyed for position, Colorado’s Joanne Reid maintained her spot at the front. Eventually O’Connell fell back by herself, and shortly thereafter Reid pulled away from the other two and won going away by nearly half a minute with a time of 38:17.8. O’Connell fought off a mad dash by Denver’s Silje Benum to hold on to fourth in 39:18.3 and earn first-team All-America honors as she did on Thursday in the 5K classical race.
After the top four, the next pack featured junior Annie Hart (Stillwater, Minn.). She remained in the top 10 throughout the race and eventually finished comfortably in eighth with a time of 39:42.4, garnering her second All-America honor of the NCAA Championships on the second team. Another freshman in Corey Stock (Lincoln, Mass.) finished 15th in 40:00.2. The trio combined to earn 99 points, second only to Colorado’s 125.
The men featured a much larger pack at the front for the 20K. Anywhere from 15 to 20 skiers remained within striking distance through the first couple of checkpoints. Tarling was one of the seven or eight at the front from the outset, sometimes leading, sometimes falling back a bit. Sophomore Silas Talbot (Anchorage, Alaska) and senior Scott Lacy (Aspen, Colo.) were toward the back of the large pack, but lurked in contention.
Talbot gradually worked his way toward the front, however, and during the final lap, he even got right behind Tarling as the pair were in the lead briefly. But the three Utah skiers and Thursday’s champion, Colorado’s Rune Oedegaard, all featured a furious kick down the stretch to pull ahead. Utah’s Miles Havlick caught Oedegaard in the last few meters to take the title by six-tenths of a second in 50:13.4. The top nine skiers ended up being separated by slightly more than a mere six seconds with Tarling finishing seventh in 50:18.3 and Talbot ninth in 50:19.6 as each earned a spot on the All-America Second Team.
Lacy crossed the tape in the middle of a second pack of skiers in 16th place with a time of 51:00.1. The Dartmouth men recorded a total of 90 points, which like the women, was good enough to finish second in the team standings. Utah had three of the top five in the race to win by a wide margin with 133 points.
The Big Green posted the second-most points in the Nordic events during the championships with 376 behind the champion Colorado’s 391.
The final tally of All-America skiers for Dartmouth was nine with O’Connell, Hart and Talbot achieving the honor twice. Tarling, the 2011 champion in the freestyle, received his fourth career All-America honor to finish his collegiate career. The other two Big Green All-Americans were alpine freshmen Lizzie Kistler (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Sara Kikut (Burlington, Vt.).