Ski Team Set For NCAA's

Ski Team Set For NCAA's

The University of Colorado will be the host school for the 57th Annual NCAA Men's and Women's Skiing Championships from March 10-13, 2010. Alpine events will take place at Mt. Werner & Howelsen Hill, while the Nordic events will be held at Howelsen Hill. Middlebury will send five alpine racers and a pair of nordic competitors to the event. Juniors Nicole Dvorak (Essex Junction, Vt.) and Tasha Woodworth (Carlisle, Mass.) will represent the women's alpine squad for the Panthers, while juniors Bobby Poehling (LaCrosse, Wis.) and Jacob Lund (Hudson, Wis.), along with rookie Brian Shpall (Englewood, Colo.) will compete for the men. Senior Lauren Fritz (Chugiak, Alaska) and junior Patrick Johnson (Anchorage, Alaska) will represent the Middlebury nordic squad.

The NCAA Skiing competition opens on Wednesday March 10th at Mt. Werner, with the men's and women's giant slalom races. Action then turns to Howelsen Hill on Thursday the 11th for the women's 5K Classical and the men's 10K Classical races. The alpine competition takes center stage on Friday the 12th, as racers compete in the slalom event at night. Action concludes on Saturday the 13th with the men's 20K free and the women's 15K free races.

Middlebury finished fourth in the first four carnivals of the season, before a fifth place finish at Williams. The Panthers finished strong, with a third place finish at their own carnival, doubling as the Eastern Championships.

Shpall has led the Middlebury men on the alpine side this season, earning EISA Rookie of the Year honors, while also earning a spot on the second-team. Shpall earned rookie of the year honors after an impressive first season on the slopes for the Panthers. He began the season with top five-finishes in each of the first three carnivals of the season. He placed third in the GS at St. Lawrence and second at St. Michael's for his best two finishes of the year. Shpall finished fifth overall on the eastern circuit in the combined rankings.

Poehling captained the men's team this season, turning in some solid finishes in the slalom. The junior placed second in the slalom at St. Michael's, Dartmouth and Middlebury this season, with two other top 10 finishes. He was a second-team All-East member, who finished the season ranked fifth in the east in the slalom.

Lund earned three top 10 finishes this season for the Panthers. His best finish of the season came at Williams, where he placed fourth overall in the slalom. He also earned a seventh place finish in the slalom at St. Lawrence and an eighth place finish in the GS at UVM.

Dvorak led the Middlebury women this season with eight top 10 finishes this season. The captain's best finish of the season was a second place effort in the slalom at Dartmouth, placing third in the same event at Williams the following week. She was a second-team All-East selection, finishing the season ranked second in the slalom.

Woodworth came on strong at the end of the season for Middlebury, finishing fourth in the slalom at her own carnival. The junior struggled with injuries early in the season, but is in good health heading into the NCAA's.

On the nordic side, Johnson has been Middlebury's top skier all season long, finishing in the top five in seven of the final eight races on the carnival circuit. Johnson won the 15K free race at Vermont, while being a part of the winning 3x5 relay team at Dartmouth the following week. He finished second in the 10K at Williams, with a pair of third place finishes to go along with it. He was a first-team All-East selection as well.

Fritz finished in the top five on five different occasions this season. Her best individual finish came at the Middlebury carnival, where she placed seventh overall in the 15K freestyle race.