Seawolves host NCAA West Regional Championships

UAA hosted the 2019 NCAA West Regional Championships for skiing Feb. 20-24. Alpine races were completed at Alyeska Ski Area on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24, while the Nordic races were completed at Government Peak and Kincaid Park on Feb. 20 and Feb. 22.

Heading into the meet, the Seawolves were ranked sixth overall. They were also ranked sixth in men’s alpine, seventh in women’s alpine, fourth in men’s Nordic and fourth in women’s Nordic.

The first to race were the Nordic freestylers. The men competed in a 10-kilometer race while the women competed in a 5-kilometer race, both at Government Peak.

Overall, the UAA men placed third with 73 points. The University of New Mexico took No. 2 (85 points) while Colorado took No. 1 with 90 points.

Sigurd Roenning was the top-scorer from the Seawolves with a third-place finish in 27:19. He was just under 30 seconds away from the first place finisher. Toomas Kollo trailed in behind Roenning to secure an eighth-place finish (27:46). Following them was JC Schoonmaker (28:35) at 18th, the last Seawolf to make it in the top 20.

“I was defintely getting tired in the end, because I started out so hard. But I am glad that I could keep on having that gap until the finish line,” Roenning said.

The women, with 64 points, placed fourth overall in the 5-kilometer. The Seawolves had five women place in the top 20.

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Casey Wright led the team overall with a seventh-place finish in 15:50. In a back-to-back finish, Michaela Keller-Miller (16:02), Anna Darnell (16:04) and Natalie Hynes (16:07) finished 12th, 13th, 14th, respectively. The final top 20 finisher was Jenna DiFolco (16:18) at 19th.

“I think we all had a great day out there, there’s not much more you can ask for than blue skies, sunshine and cold, fast snow,” Wright said. “We spent the whole year training for these events and it was nice to put all that hard work into having some good races.”

To finish off the Nordic races, the teams competed in the 15-kilometer and 20-kilometer classic races at Kincaid Park on Feb. 22.

The UAA men had just two skiers make it into the top 20 while the women had three.

Kollo placed at tenth with a time of 54:14. Roenning finished after him at 15th (55:21). Their scores helped place the team at sixth overall in the classic races.

The women’s team finished at fourth overall in the classic races.

Wright (47:16), Keller-Miller (47:29) and Darnell (49:10) were the top three UAA finishers at ninth, 13th and 17th, respectively.

While the Nordic team was finishing the classic races at Kincaid, the alpine team was just getting started with the giant slalom at Alyeska Ski Resort.

In a successful start to the alpine races, the UAA women’s team tied for first overall in the giant slalom. The men’s team came in fourth.

With just 17 competitors racing, the Seawolves had three women finish in the top-10. Georgia Burgess completed her two runs in a total of 2:37.44, good for seventh place. Right behind her, Li Djurestaal finished at eight with a time of 2:37.97. At tenth place, Kristina Natalenko finished in 2:39.54.

The men’s team was lead by Liam Wallace and Sky Kelsey who tied at seventh with a time of 2:27.24. Dominic Unterberger was the only other Seawolf in the top 20, finishing at 18th in a time of 2:28.67.

“I have been able to [do really well] one or two times this season, but it wasn’t what I really wanted or expected so it was nice to finally put in some good results,” Wallace said.

To finish up the meet, the alpine skiers race in the slalom races on Feb. 24 at Alyeska.

The UAA women’s team finished with an overall fifth place while the men’s team finished at third.

Four women made it into the top-20. Burgess took the highest spot at No. 13 with a combined time of 1:56.22. Behind her was Alix Wells (1:57.32) at No. 15, Kristina Natalenko (1:57.69) at No. 17 and Djurestaal (2:01.00) at No. 20.

The men’s team has significant results from just two skiers in the top-20. Wallace finished second overall, just 0.38 seconds behind first place. Anthony Naciuk also made the top-20, at No. 11 with a time of 1:45.69.

After the completion of all four events. The UAA skiers finished at fourth place overall. They were behind No. 3 New Mexico, No. 2 Colorado and No. 1 Utah.