Middlebury will travel to New York for the 2015 NCAA Skiing Championships from March 11-14 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. The championships will be hosted by St. Lawrence and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Action begins on Wednesday the 11th with the men's 10K and women's 5K free style races at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Alpine events begin on Thursday at Whiteface Mountain with the giant slalom events. Nordic competition resumes on Friday the 13th with the women's 15K and men's 20K classical races. The Championships conclude on Saturday the 15th with the men's and women's slalom races.
Middlebury qualified the maximum of three men and three women on the alpine side. Sophomores Rob Cone (Killington, Vt.) and Christopher McKenna (W. Hartford, Vt.) along with rookie Riley Plant (Auburn, Calif.) will represent the alpine men. Seniors Katelyn Barclay (Pittsford, N.Y.) and Mary Sackbauer (Vail, Colo.), along with junior Elle Gilbert (Woodstock, Vt.) will race for the women.
On the nordic side, the women's squad will send the maximum of three racers allowed to compete. Seniors Heather Mooney (Peru, Vt.) and Stella Holt (Whitefish, Mont.) will race, along with junior Kelsey Phinney (Boulder, Colo.). Sophomore Patrick McElravey (Tahoe City, Calif.) will represent the Panther men.
No men's alpine skier in the east dominated the carnival circuit this year like Cone. The sophomore earned the GS Leader Award from the EISA and was a first-team selection. He won the first three giant slalom events of the season, placing second and third in two others. Cone's slalom results were equally impressive with three second-place efforts and one third. He did not finish the GS at the EISA Championships and did not race in the slalom, but is healthy and ready to challenge for a national title in Lake Placid. He finished the carnival season ranked first in the east in the GS and second in the slalom.
McKenna boasted six top-eight finishes in 2015. Last season's EISA Rookie of the Year, McKenna earned his best finish of the season in the opening race of the year, placing third in the GS at Bates. He turned in a pair of top-10 finishes at Dartmouth in early February, placing fifth in the GS at Middlebury and sixth at the EISAs. He is ranked ninth in the eastern GS rankings.
Plant came on strong for the Panthers after not racing in the first three carnivals of the season. He earned a sixth-place finish in the GS at the Middlebury carnival, following that up with a sixth-place effort at the EISA Championships to qualify him for the NCAAs.
Barclay finished the eastern races ranked eighth in the GS this season. Her top effort came at her own carnival, where she placed third overall. She also earned a top-10 finish in the GS at St. Michael's (eighth).
Sackbauer may have been the team's most consistent racer, finishing the year ranked 11th in the slalom and 13th in the GS among eastern racers. She finished in the top 11 nine times this year, earning a season-best fourth-place effort in the GS at Middlebury. She also placed sixth in the slalom at Middlebury for her best weekend of the season.
Gilbert turned in a season-best fifth-place effort in the GS at her own carnival this season. She also finished in the top-12 three other times, including a 10th-place finish in the GS at the EISA Championships. She ended the carnival season ranked 16th in the GS among eastern skiers.
As dominant as Cone was on the alpine side, Mooney was equally as dominant in the nordic events. She finished the carnival circuit as the EISA Women's Classic Leader, earning first-team All-EISA honors. Mooney is ranked first in the classical standings and second in the free. She won seven different races this season, including both the 5K free and 15K classic in the opening carnival at Bates. She also picked up a pair of wins at St. Michael's in the 5K classic, while being a part of the winning 4x3 freestyle relay team at St. Michael's.
Phinney was ranked in the top 10 in both disciplines this winter. She sits in sixth place in the classical rankings, while holding down the ninth spot in the free technique in the east. Phinney earned nine top-10 finishes this season, including a season-best third-place effort in the 15K classic at the EISA Championships. She was fourth in the sprint classic at Dartmouth and fifth in the 5K free at Bates. She ended the season by earning second-team All-East honors.
Holt was in the top 11 in carnival events eight times this season. She was a part of the winning 4x3 freestyle sprint relay team at St. Michael's, while earning a personal-best sixth-place finish in the 10K free at Middlebury. Along with the spring relay win at St. Mike's, she placed seventh in the 5K classic race. Holt is ranked 12th in the classic and 14th in the freestyle event.
McElravey finished the eastern races ranked 13th in the free and 18th in the classical. He and Adam Luban were part of the 4x3 free relay event at St. Michael's, with his best individual effort coming in at Dartmouth, where he placed seventh in the spring classic. McElravey also earned top-10 finishes in the 15K classic at UVM and the 10K free at Middlebury.
Gilbert, McKenna and Mooney were recently named to the National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team, where you must have competed in an NCAA Regional and maintain a 3.5 GPA.