Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Morgan, Williams take gold at USSA Junior Nationals

Nordic races at Stowe, Vt.

     Monday was a golden first day for two Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Nordic racers during the kickoff events of the 2014 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Junior National Cross-Country Ski Championships at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt.

     Cole Morgan, 19, of Bozeman, Mt., a former SVSEF racer now racing for University of Vermont, and current SVSEF junior star Zach Williams, 14, won gold medals in their respective classes in the interval start classic distance races that attracted a total 377 competitors.

     Vermont Catamounts sophomore Morgan won the 10-kilometer men’s U-20 (ages 18-19) race by 35 seconds in 27:49, leading a field of 54 stocked full of collegiate men. In the U-16 Junior Men’s 5k classic race, Zach Williams prevailed by seven seconds in 14:28.

     SVSEF’s U-16 junior men have been dominant all season in Intermountain Division and Western Regional racing—and Monday’s Junior Nationals were no exception. Williams and two other SVSEF racers earned All-American honors for finishing in the top 10. Indeed, Sun Valley placed four in the top 12 of the 63-racer U-16 Junior Men’s field.

     All-Americans included Peter Wolter, 15, in fourth place at 14:45, 16.6 seconds back, and River Vorse, 15, in ninth place at 15:09, 0:40 seconds back. In 12th place was Carter Ros, 15, in 15:13, just 0:44 back. And in 37th place was Ben Brunelle, 15, in 16:02, 1:33 back.

     Former SVSEF junior racing star Maggie Williams, 18, now a promising University of Vermont Nordic ski team freshman, placed ninth for All-American honors in the U-20 Junior Women’s class with a 16:47 time (0:27 back) in Monday’s 5k classic race. SVSEF entrant Sarah Williams, 18, was 30th of 33 finishers in that class at 19:06, 2:46 back.

     Williams and Morgan are members of the Vermont squad that won the College Cup prize during the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships during January at Soldier Hollow, Utah. In that event, Williams placed fifth in the women’s 5k skate and Morgan was sixth in the men’s 10k skate.

     Recently, Vermont captured its fourth straight EISA Alpine/Nordic team championship at Rikert Nordic Center in Middlebury, Vt.—finishing the EISA circuit unbeaten for the 18th time since 1979. Vermont skiers are competing March 6 and 8 at the NCAA Championships in Utah.

     Five other SVSEF Nordic teamers competed in Monday’s Junior National debut, all in the U-18 (ages 16-17) divisions.

     In the 10k U-18 Junior Men’s 10k classic race, Danny Graves placed 42nd of 73 finishers in 31:29 (2:51 back).

     Placing 44th, 47th, 57th and 67th of 81 racers in the U-18 Junior Women’s 5k classic were Katerina Paul (18:04, 2:14 back), Katie Feldman (18:08), Haley Montgomery (18:34) and Grace Gorham (18:52).

     Next up at Stowe are classic sprints Wednesday, March 5 followed by mass start freestyle races Friday, March 7 and freestyle relays Saturday.

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