KINGFIELD, Maine – Brian Blank, second-year alpine coach at the University of New Hampshire, was honored as the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Alpine Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the EISA Regional Championships that were held Feb. 27 to March 1. Five of his UNH protégées earned All-East accolades and that included Willie Ford (Plymouth, N.H.) and Sean McNamara (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) on the First Team.
Michael Cremeno (Pembroke, N.H.) earned All-East Second Team recognition in men’s alpine and fellow Wildcats Veronique Archambault-Leger (Verdun, Quebec) and Aileen Farrell (Ottawa, Ontario) garnered Second Team honors in women’s alpine.
Blank (UNH ’95) guided the UNH men’s alpine team to one of the most dominant seasons on record. In six carnivals, including this past weekend’s EISA Regional Championships, the Wildcats recorded the highest team score in 11 of 12 events and had four individual champions. The men recorded 33 top-10 finishes and that included a 1-2-3 sweep of the UNH Carnival giant slalom and 2-3-4 the following week in the UVM Carnival’s GS.
Furthermore, five New Hampshire men are ranked among the top 20 on the NCAA qualifier list. Ford is second and is followed by McNamara (third), Cremeno (sixth), Paul Atkinson (Toronto, Ontario; 14th) and Ethan Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.; 17th).
The women’s alpine team also had a very successful season. The ‘Cats recorded the highest team score in the UNH Carnival’s giant slalom and was second best in the GS the next week at Vermont. The women compiled 20 top-10 finishes in the carnival season.
A quartet from the Wildcats’ women’s alpine squad is ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA qualifier list. Archambault-Leger leads the way in ninth place and is followed by Farell (10th), Cynthia Tessier (Rawdon, Quebec; 17th) and Aliza Aylward (Warren, Vt.; 25th).
Ford, an All-East Second Team honoree last year, recorded three first-place finishes in 2009 and that included a sweep of the slalom and giant slalom at the Dartmouth Carnival. He had previously won the giant slalom at the UNH Carnival. Ford recorded eight other top-10 finishes, including five in the top-5. His other highlights included second place in the Bates giant slalom and third place in the UNH slalom. He ended the Eastern circuit last weekend with sixth place in the giant slalom and eighth in the slalom.
McNamara, an All-East Second Team selection each of his previous three years, capped the Eastern carnivals by winning the giant slalom and finishing second in the slalom at the EISA Regional Championships. He finished in the top 10 in all 12 races this season with 10 top-5 finishes overall. McNamara was the top ’Cat in six of 12 races and that included both Middlebury Carnival events in which he was second overall in the SL and third in the GS. He also earned second place in the UVM slalom and UNH giant slalom.
Cremeno, who received Second Team recognition for the second consecutive year, tallied five top-10 finishes in ’09. He finished third overall in the slalom this past weekend at the Easterns. He had also took third place in the giant slalom at the UNH Carnival and was the top ‘Cat with second place overall in the giant slalom at Vermont. Cremeno’s other highlights included sixth place in the GS at Middlebury and seventh place in that discipline at Dartmouth; he was the second-fastest UNH skier in both races.
Archambault-Leger, a First Team honoree the previous two seasons, finished in the top-5 six times during the ’09 carnival season and was the top ‘Cat in all six of those races. In the opener at Bates, Archambault-Leger took fourth place in the slalom and fifth place in the giant slalom. The following week at UNH, she placed third overall in the slalom. That was her highest placing of the season; she also took third in the giant slalom at UVM.
Farrell finished in the top-10 in 11 of 12 races during the Eastern carnival circuit and finished no lower than 12th place this season. She was the top UNH skier in six of 12 events and that included both the giant slalom and slalom at the EISA Regional Championships with sixth- and ninth-place finishes, respectively. Farrell raced to a second-place finish in the UNH giant slalom and took eighth place that weekend in the slalom. She was more consistent in the slalom with finishes of seventh (twice), eighth (twice) and ninth (twice) but had higher marks of fourth and sixth place in the GS.
The New Hampshire ski team concludes the 2009 season March 11-14 at the NCAA Ski Championships, which will be held by Bates College at Sunday River (Bethel, Maine; alpine) and Black Mountain (Rumford, Maine; Nordic).