STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - At the close of the second day of the 2016 NCAA Skiing Championships, Montana State’s Nordic team continued the success its alpine squad had on day one as the Bobcats sit in first place, although competition is bunching up behind them in pursuit of an NCAA Championship.
Montana State had four top 10 finishes in the two Nordic races Thursday at Howelsen Hill, including two in the top four in the women’s 5K freestyle race.
“We definitely got a boost,” head Nordic coach Matthew Johnson said of the Bobcats’ alpine lead. “We took that excitement and just channeled it into positive energy going into today, but not trying to do anything differently than we normally do. Just trying to come out and execute the game plan and trying to race as consistently as we have all season.”
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Anika Miller finished first for the Bobcats in the 5K race with a time of 13:06.1 and her teammate, Cambria McDermott, came in fourth 9.4 seconds later.
“When I finished, I had no idea how I’d done actually until my teammates jumped on me and were screaming,” Miller said. “I had no idea. I just started crying.”
Colorado’s Petra Hyncicova (13:14.0) finished second, with Sloan Storey from Utah only one-tenth of a second behind her. Colorado, Utah and Denver all had two women finish in the top 10 on Thursday.
On the men’s side, Colorado’s Mads Stroem took the 10K individual championship with a time of 22:06.8. Denver and Colorado once again had two skiers in the top 10 for the men’s 10K race, but it was Northern Michigan who took the race with all three of its skiers finishing in the top 10.
Northern Michigan’s Ian Torchia (22:17.4) came in second while his teammates, Adam Martin (22:35.2) and Jake Brown (23:02.9), finished fourth and ninth, respectively.
“We knew that if we had a good day, all three of those guys were capable of winning and we just didn’t know which one,” said Northern Michigan’s head coach Sten Fjeldheim. “We weren’t shocked or surprised that they’re all in the top 10, but you never know at altitude.”
After Denver and Utah’s success in the Thursday races, they have pulled the team scores much higher, giving aim at an exciting final two days of competition. Currently, Utah holds the second place and has 264 points with Denver in third and just one point behind at 263. The host Buffaloes are in fourth place with 214.5 points and Vermont rounds out the top five with 154.
However, the Bobcats have expanded their lead to 18 points. They are now just the seventh different school to lead at the midway point since 1983 when skiing became a coed sport at the NCAA.
“The momentum definitely helps our mindset, but the bottom line is we’ve got to go out and race the same way that we race everyday. That’s the way to succeed,” Johnson said. “Trying to mix it up and change it for the championship isn’t going to go well. Coming in with too much excitement isn’t going to go well, but skiing like we’re in the lead and skiing like we’re champions is going to do well for us.”
All teams have about 30 hours of time between races, as Friday night action returns to slalom in one of the most exciting races and venues in the United States. Racing will begin at 6:30 p.m. MT at Howelsen Hill. The championship concludes Saturday at 9 and 11 a.m. with the men’s 20K and women’s 15K classic races.