The University of Alaska at Fairbanks Nordic Ski team wrapped up their season with a 10th place finish at the NCAA Skiing Championships this past week.
After scoring 75 points as a team on the first day in the 5/10k races, the Nanooks scored 88 points (52 by the women and 36 by the men) to finish the week with 163 points to earn their 10th place finish. Individually, Mariel Pulles and Kendall Kramer led the way for the Nanooks as they’ve done all season.
After placing seventh in the 5K race on Thursday, Pulles placed fifth overall with a time of 39:31.6, earning 29 points for UAF on Saturday.
“Snow conditions were so different in many places along the 5K loop, so it was a little bit frustrating but I am happy with my result,” Pulles said.
Kramer wasn’t far behind her teammate. The standout freshman grabbed eighth place overall, earning 23 team points. Kramer’s 15K freestyle time was 40:04.2.
“I felt really good and rested and ready to go today,” Kramer said. “The snow was really good and it felt effortless out there, which is always a rare feeling but cherished when it happens.”
Catherine Reed-Metayer finished 31st overall with a time of 43:50.4.
For the men, Mike Ophoff finished in 12th place overall after Saturday’s 20K with a time of 49:51.2. Christopher Kalev was right behind him, finishing 14th with a time of 50:23.3. Ophoff earned 19 points for the Nanooks while Kalev tallied 17.
“It was a solid skate race, I paced it well, could not quite get in the zone but happy with the result,” Kalev said. “I got to learn how to stay on my feet though.”
Ophoff was pleased to learn his result after feeling his legs go out as the race went off.
“I went from a flying start to flying through the first lap which was no good for my legs and I had to slow it down a little on the next one,” he said. “Overall, I was surprised with the result.”
Interim head coach Jennie Bender was pleased with her team’s effort.
“Finishing up this block of time on the road safely and having the team crush it at NCAAs is beyond words,” she said. “We have been through so much to get to this point, and I’m thankful for the family that is UAF skiing.”
West Valley grad and Fairbanks native Maggie Whitaker also competed at Nationals for St. Scholastica. Whitaker finished 36th in the 15K race with a time of 45:52.6 and 35th in the 5K with a time of 19:30.3.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at Hpisani@newsminer.com, 459-7530, or on Twitter at Hpisani91.