Four Panthers skiers are All-Americans

MIDDLEBURY — Four Middlebury College skiers earned All-American honors — one did so twice — when the Panther ski team hosted the 2013 NCAA Championships at the Snow Bowl in Hancock and Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton from Wednesday through Saturday last week. See a slideshow here.
The Panthers finished the event 10th in the team competition, while the University of Colorado rallied past the University of Vermont on the final day to take home its 18th national title. Utah took second and UVM was third in a 21-team field.
For the Panthers, sophomore Mary Sackbauer earned second-team All-American honors after surging to a ninth-place finish in the women’s giant slalom on Wednesday. Sackbauer posted the eighth-best time in the second run to leap up from 14th and finish in a two-run time of 2:08.03 seconds.
In the men’s GS, the Middlebury trio of junior Hig Roberts, senior David Donaldson and senior Andrew McNealus finished 19th, 21st and 28th, respectively.
Roberts turned in the eighth-best time in the second run to move up from 25th after the first run. He finished with a total time of 2:04.32. Donaldson finished in 2:04.61 while McNealus’ two-run time was 2:05.78.
On Thursday, junior Ben Lustgarten blazed to a fourth-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometer classic Nordic race at Rikert to lead Middlebury. Lustgarten finished in 26:32.6 to pick up first-team All-American recognition. The showing capped an excellent classical season for the junior from Burlington, who won at the Colby Carnival and also turned in two third-place finishes. Middlebury’s other men’s competitor, junior Austin Cobb, was 28th in 27:51.8.
In the women’s 5K classic, sophomore Annie Pokorny came home 18th in 16:27.5 to pace the Middlebury contingent, despite taking a spill on the course. Sophomore Heather Mooney was 26th in 16:45.1, while rookie Kelsey Phinney clocked in at 17:18.6 to place 34th.
On Friday, Middlebury posted the best team score in the men’s slalom for the second straight year, seeing a pair of skiers finish in All-American positions. Donaldson led the way for the Panthers, placing second in a two-run time of 1:39.24 to claim first-team All-America honors. Donaldson, the first-run leader, came in 28 hundredths of a second behind winner Joonas Rasanen of New Mexico.
Donaldson capped a senior season that saw him win six races and lead the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association giant slalom standings.
Roberts placed sixth in 1:40.13, earning All-American recognition for the second straight year. He landed on the second team this winter after picking up first-team honors with a fifth-place showing in 2012.
The duo’s showing gives Middlebury three alpine All-Americans this winter. Sackbauer, who was ninth in Wednesday’s women’s giant slalom, completed her season with a 19th-place showing Friday in the slalom in 1:41.33. The third Middlebury men’s skier, McNealus, slipped in the second run on Friday and settled for 21st place in 1:42.22.
On Saturday, Lustgarten turned in his second All-American performance of the weekend, placing eighth in the men’s 20-kilometer freestyle race. His time was 50:18.6, just over five seconds behind winner Miles Havlick of Utah in a race that was tight throughout and came down to a final sprint through the stadium.
Lustgarten finished in the top eight in every individual event he entered this season. Cobb came home 31st in Saturday’s race with a time of 53:21.6.
In the women’s 15K freestyle, Middlebury teammates Phinney and Mooney raced side-by-side much of the way before Phinney edged ahead at the finish. Their times were 42:19.4 and 42:19.9, respectively, good enough for 34th and 35th. Pokorny was hampered by an injury suffered on Thursday and had to pull out of Saturday’s race after the first of three laps. 

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