Panthers take 8th at NCAA meet
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Middlebury College’s Rob Cone claimed the men’s giant slalom national title on March 12 at the 2015 NCAA skiing championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., to highlight the Panther team’s efforts in the multi-day competition.
The Panthers finished eighth overall, with 230 points, in the NCAA event, which was won by the University of Colorado with 505 points, followed by Denver (478), Utah (471) and Vermont (443).
Cone, a sophomore, also an All-American in 2011, became Middlebury’s first men’s individual skiing champion since Robert MacLeod took home the men’s slalom title in 1989.
Cone’s performance at Whiteface Mountain, along with sophomore Christopher McKenna’s All-American third-place effort, led the Panther men’s GS team to the NCAA title in the event despite having just two scorers.
Cone finished with a combined time of 2:16.79, edging Denver’s Sebastian Brigovic (2:17.22). He posted the fourth-fastest time (1:10.21) in his first run, and on his second try posted the day’s best run of 1:06.58 to clinch the title.
With the victory, Cone stood atop the podium for the fourth time this winter after claiming the GS title at the season’s first three carnivals.
McKenna’s two-run total was 2:18:36. He sat right behind Cone after the first run with a 1:10.56, and moved up two spots on the leaderboard with a second-run time of 1:07.40. That time was the third best among second runs behind only Cone and Utah’s Endre Bjertness (1:06.94).
Middlebury’s third participant, Riley Plant, was on pace for a top-10 first run, but the freshman fell nearing the finish line.
In the women’s GS, athletes from Western schools claimed the first five spots. The University of New Mexico’s Mateja Robnik took home the title in 2:22.56.
Senior Mary Sackbauer led the Panther women with a 13th-place finish in 2:26.75. Elle Gilbert, a junior from Woodstock, finished 17th in 2:27.54. Senior Katelyn Barclay also skied, but fell her on second run.
Cone repeated as an All-American on Saturday with a 10th-place finish in the slalom. Denver dominated the slalom, placing racers in second, third and fourth. Dominique Garand of Vermont took home the title with a two-run time of 1:55.03.
Cone sat in fifth place after one run, but slipped to 10th with a combined time of 1:58.22. Plant finished in 24th place in 2:01.76. McKenna missed a gate and had to hike during his first run. He ended in 30th place in 2:23.99.
On the women’s side, Sackbauer also took home All-American honors, finishing ninth in 1:56.52. Denver’s Monica Huebner won in 1:56.52. Sackbauer was in 12th after the first run, but a solid second run moved her up. Barclay placed 23rd in 2:02.25, and Gilbert was 25th in 2:03.07.
In Nordic racing on March 11, Western schools took the top 10 spots in the women’s 5-kilometer freestyle race. Utah’s Veronika Mayerhoffer took home the title in 14:21. The highlight for the Panther women was Kelsey Phinney, a junior who placed 20th overall and fourth among Eastern racers in 15:35.
Middlebury favorite Heather Mooney, who entered the event as the second-ranked skier in the East in freestyle events, unfortunately was ill, as was teammate Stella Holt, and they did not perform their best. Holt, a senior, took 34th place in 15:56, while Mooney, a senior from Peru, Vt., crossed the line in 16:10, for 39th.
On the men’s side, Middlebury sophomore Patrick McElravey raced to a 27th-place finish in 27:16 in the men’s 10K; he was 11th among Eastern racers at the event. Patrick Caldwell of Dartmouth captured the event in 25:09.
The second day of Nordic racing took place on Friday, March 13, when the women’s 15K and the men’s 20K races were held.
The West owned the top six spots in the women’s event, with Emilie Cedervaern of New Mexico taking home the 15K title in 47:40. Phinney took 11th in 49:34, third among Eastern racers. Mooney and Holt were still recovering from illnesses, but fared better. Mooney finished in 16th in 49:49, and the senior completed her stellar season with seven Nordic wins. Holt was 30th in 52:32.
On the men’s side, McElravey was 23rd in 59:04 and 10th among Eastern racers.
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