EIGHT SKIERS TO COMPETE AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

SEAN MCNAMARA
DURHAM, N.H.  – The University of New Hampshire ski team will have a total of eight student-athletes, including All-America honorees Veronique Archambault-Leger (Verdun, Quebec), Aileen Farrell (Ottawa, Ontario) and Sean McNamara (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.), competing at the 2008 NCAA Skiing Championships, which will be held March 5-8 at Montana State University’s Bridger Bowl (alpine) and  Bohart Ranch (Nordic).

The Wildcats, who placed 11th in last year’s national championship, will send a full allotment of six alpine skiers as well as two Nordic skiers. Joining Archambault-Leger, Farrell and McNamara on the alpine slopes will be Emily Capaul (Campton, N.H.), Michael Cremeno (Pembroke, N.H.) and Willie Ford (Plymouth, N.H.); Cynthia Tessier (Ste Julienne, Quebec) also qualified to compete. The Nordic races will include UNH’s Natasha Kullas (Timmins, Ontario) and Sarah Wright (Wyoming, Minn.).

This year’s Wildcat squad boasts a wealth of NCAA championship experience. Archambault-Leger, Farrell, Ford and McNamara all competed in the 2007 NCAAs and McNamara garnered All-America accolades in ’06 for finishing fifth in both the slalom and giant slalom.

Archambault-Leger, who garnered All-America honors in both slalom and giant slalom as a rookie last year for her third-place finish in both disciplines, did not experience a sophomore slump in the 2008 carnival season as she was feted as the Bogner Women’s Alpine Point Champion and earned All-East First Team honors. Archambault-Leger was UNH’s top finisher in 11 of 12 alpine races and did not place lower than seventh all season. At the Eastern Championships, she finished second in both disciplines, and she dominated the slalom during the carnival season with one first-place finish, two runner-up finishes, a third-place finish and a fourth-place effort. Out of the East, Archambault-Leger is ranked third in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom.

Farrell’s top two performances in ’08 were in the slalom, but she was more consistent in the giant slalom. She raced to a season-best fourth-place finish at the Vermont Carnival and also recorded a top-10 finish (seventh place) at the St. Lawrence Carnival. Farrell finished in the top 20 every week in the giant slalom with a best effort of eighth place in the Bates Carnival. In the two most recent events, Farrell was 16th at the Eastern Championships and 12th at Williams. Farrell, who earned All-America status last season as a rookie for a seventh-place finish in the slalom, is ranked ninth in the SL as well a 16th in the GS.

Capaul’s outstanding freshman campaign will conclude with a trip to the NCAAs, where she is the East’s 17th seed in both disciplines. She emerged in the ’08 season at the Vermont Carnival with a seventh-place finish overall – and top ‘Cat – in the giant slalom. One week later at Dartmouth, Capaul was seventh in the slalom and 19th in the giant slalom. She is coming off a 10th-place effort in the slalom at the Eastern Championships.

McNamara, the top ‘Cat in five of 12 alpine races in ’08, excelled the in giant slalom with four top-five finishes, including second place at both Williams and St. Lawrence, in the carnival season; his other top efforts were fourth place at both Dartmouth and Bates. McNamara’s top results in the slalom came in the latter half of the season with 11th place at Dartmouth, 12th at Williams and fourth place at the Eastern Championships. The junior is seeded third in the giant slalom as well as 13th in the slalom.

Ford, a sophomore, was consistently the Wildcats’ second-best men’s alpine skier this season, but perhaps was the most consistent when comparing the disciplines with eight overall top-10 finishes. In fact, it was Ford who had the best weekend at the Eastern Championships with seventh place overall – top ‘Cat – in the giant slalom and 10th place (second UNH skier) in the slalom. One week earlier at Williams, he raced to fourth place in the SL and fifth in the GS. In the opening weeks of the carnival season, Ford recorded fifth-place finishes in the slalom at Bates as well as in the giant slalom at both St. Lawrence and Vermont. Ford is seeded eighth in the SL and 12th in the GS.

Cremeno, the lone Wildcat senior competing, tallied three top-10 finishes in the 2008 season, which was highlighted by second place in Dartmouth’s giant slalom. He also was seventh in the GS at Williams and ninth in the slalom at St. Lawrence. Cremeno’s other top-20 finishes were in the slalom at the Easterns (16th) and Dartmouth (15th) as well as in the giant slalom at Bates (16th).

Wright, who qualified as an alternate for the ’07 NCAAs, was New Hampshire’s top Nordic skier throughout the 2008 carnival season and she raced to an eighth-place finish in the 5K free and a 13th-place finish in the 10K classic at the Easterns. Wright tallied six other top-10 finishes, including third place in the 5K free at Williams. In the 5K free, she also placed fifth at St. Lawrence as well as sixth at both Bates and Dartmouth. Her top classic efforts came at the 15K distance with seventh place at SLU and 10th place at Dartmouth. The junior is seeded sixth in the free and 11th in the classic

Kullas also had a pair of strong performances at the EISA Championships with sixth place in the 10K classic in which she was the top Wildcat skier; she also finished 14th in the 5K free. Her best efforts came in the latter half of the season with top-10 efforts at Vermont, Dartmouth and Williams. Kullas was eighth in the 5K free at Williams as well as ninth in the 15K classic at Dartmouth and 10th in the 10K classic at UVM. The rookie is seeded ninth in the classic and 15th in the free.

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