With the quick passing of spring break, several UAA teams competed for the last time of their 2018-19 season. While women’s basketball stayed busy playing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships and NCAA DII West Regional Championships, skiing was across the country competing in the NCAA Championships.
The small group of UAA skiers that qualified for the 66th annual national championships traveled to the University of Vermont during March 6-9 to compete for their final time this year.
Cumulatively, the group placed eighth overall out of 24 teams, with a total score of 204 points. No. 1 Utah finished with 530.5 points and No. 2 Vermont had 476 points. This was the highest the Seawolves have placed since also placing eighth in 2014.
“Our kids skied their hearts out this week. The big news was Liam [Wallace] throwing down first run from bib 19 against guys skiing World Cup and finding himself in contention for the podium,” head coach Sparky Anderson said. “Our coaching staff was on pins and needles waiting for Liam’s second run, and I about had a heart attack when he got back and jacked exiting a flush. He’s such a talented young athlete, and he was able to find the front of his boot and make a recovery.”
The meet started off with the men’s 10K freestyle and women’s 5K freestyle on March 6. Becoming the first Seawolf to earn All-American status, Casey Wright placed tenth overall to win a spot on second-team.
Michaela Keller-Miller and Anna Darnell also competed in the 5K, finishing 17th and 24th, respectively, in a race of 40 women.
Sigurd Roenning was the top-scorer for the Seawolf men in the 10K, finishing 14th overall, with Toomas Kollo (30th) and J.C Schoonmaker (38th) trailing behind.
The following day, alpine skiers got the chance to race but did not secure any All-Americans.
Georgia Burgess and Li Djurestaal were the only two Seawolves competing in the giant slalom. They placed back-to-back at 17th and 18th, respectively.
As for the men’s giant slalom, Sky Kelsey was the lone UAA racer, after Liam Wallace did not finish. Kelsey placed 16th overall.
The next day, both Nordic ski teams had an opportunity to race one more time, in the women’s 15K classical and men’s 20K classical.
Wright, again, was the highest finisher on the women’s side. In a field of 40 women, she placed 21st overall. Keller-Miller (30th) and Darnell (34th) also competed in the 15K.
In one of the top performances of the meet, Roenning completed the 20K classical as runner-up, just six seconds behind first place. He was competing in a field of 40 men.
Schoonmaker and Kollo also completed the 20K, finishing at 26th and 39th, respectively.
For the final day of the national championships, the alpine team competed in the men’s and women’s slalom.
Similar to Roenning’s performance, Wallace competed in the men’s slalom to finish runner-up. He finished less than one second behind the No. 1 finisher. Kelsey also competed, trailing in at 29th.
Djurestaal and Burgess were the final racers of the meet, completing the women’s slalom. They finished at 25th and 27th, respectively.
While the skiers were racing at nationals, women’s basketball was competing in GNAC championships in order to prepare for west regionals.
They competed in two games, one against Central Washington and another against Northwest Nazarene.
The Seawolves started out strong with a win against CWU (70-52) but lost their momentum the next day and fell to NNU (64-70), ending their conference playing time.
However, less than a week later, the Seawolves were back on the court to play in the DII West Regional Championships.
In a close win to start out their playing time, UAA overtook Hawaii Pacific by just seven points for a 76-69 win. They moved on to an even closer win, reining just two points over Northwest Nazarene (69-67) for their second win of the championship.
Their final game came close to a third win, but the Seawolves lost their momentum and fell two points behind against Azusa Pacific at 63-65.
Head coach Ryan McCarthy felt bittersweet about the final games.
“It hurts a lot more this year because we had more buy-in. I’ve had teams that lost in the first round and others that have competed for a national championship, and I don’t know that any teams had the buy-in that this group did and was able to overachieve to the extent they did. I’m extraordinarily proud of everyone, especially our four seniors,” McCarthy said.
The Seawolves are now done for the season.