Ute skiers take third at NCAAs
The Utah ski team finished third at the NCAA Championships on Saturday afternoon as the meet concluded with the Nordic classical races. Niklas Persson led Utah with a third-place finish in the 20-kilometer men’s race while Veronika Mayerhofer was Utah’s top finisher in the 15K women’s race, placing fourth.
In the men’s race, Persson earned his fifth-career All-America honor with a third-place run. He will finish his career with 13 podium finishes. Kevin Bolger earned his first career All-America honor with a seventh-place finish. He had 11 top-10 finishes this season. Nick Hendrickson finished 16th, just beating New Mexico’s Niklas Rombock to the line.
Mayerhofer earned her third-career All-America honor with her fourth-place run in the women’s race. Natalia Müller placed 13th while Sloan Storey, a six-time All-American for the Utes, finished 38th in her final career race after ongoing back problems flared up. She battled valiantly to complete the race.
Utah had started the day third overall in the team standings behind Denver and Montana State. The Utes moved ahead of MSU into second following the men’s race, but the Colorado women placed two skiers in the top 10 with their third skier finishing 17th to overtake Utah for second in the final standings.
The Utes finished with 485 points for third behind Denver (567.5) and Colorado (491.5). Montana State was third (406) with Dartmouth fifth (335). It is Utah’s second-straight third-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
"Everyone went out there and gave it their best effort today, and we have zero regrets," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "There is no doubt about that. I know we wanted to ski better than we ended up, but it’s ski racing and everyone who has been involved with the sport understands how unpredictable it is. I am super impressed with the seniors on this team and very pleased with the effort and the hard-fought results.
"Kudos to Niklas Persson, who fought his way on the podium for a fantastic finish to his collegiate career," Sweeney continued. "It was also extremely rewarding to see the results of Kevin Bolger and Natalia Müller, who will be returning for us. Of course, it was a tough break with Sloan.
"I think every head coach or ski director I have chatted with has said that this was one of the most hard-fought championships that they can remember. There was some fantastic skiing across the board, and I think that makes a strong statement for the level of skiing at the NCAA level. The camaraderie between teams is extremely unique and I think it creates a healthy atmosphere. Thanks to Steamboat and CU, who did a great job hosting. I wish we had come out a little further up the ladder, but we also threw down everything we had, and I am very proud of that."
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.