Sunday, March 15, 2009

DU Ski Team Wins 20th National Championship

(above) DU Sophomore Antje Maempel overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race on Saturday

(above) Denver's ski team celebrates DU's 20th NCAA National Championship in Maine on Saturday

From: Denver Post

RUMFORD, Maine — Antje Maempel won her second individual NCAA nordic skiing title in three days Saturday, propelling the University of Denver to its second straight NCAA skiing championship and 20th overall.

The Pioneers, who trailed Vermont by two points going into Saturday, got 74 points from its three men and 103 points from its three women to win the team title with 659 points.

It was the second straight year Denver has claimed the team title after not leading going into the final day, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in the 11 years prior to 2008.

Colorado sophomore Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men's 20-kilometer freestyle race to lift the Buffs from fifth place to second with 602.5 points. They finished half a point ahead of third-place New Mexico.

This was the 13th time in the 56-year history of the skiing championships that DU and CU have claimed the top two places.

The University of Alaska-Anchorage took second and third place in the men's 20K, moving from sixth place to fourth with 584 points, and Vermont finished fifth with 573.

"It was an improbable and unlikely win for the team this year," DU coach David Stewart said. "We had a solid team, but I don't think anybody looked at us in the beginning of the year and said, 'They're the team to beat.' A couple other teams are really strong. But the team came here and just performed extremely well, to be honest."

Maempel, a sophomore from Stuelzerbach, Germany, overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race, two days after claiming first in the 5K freestyle race. Maempel finished in 38:35.0, just half a second ahead of Turzian.

"I was lucky because I wasn't sick or anything all season, so I could continue to practice and race all year, and it kind of worked out for a great season," Maempel said. "We were motivated to win the team title."

Maempel is the first athlete to win both women's nordic races at the championships since CU's Jana Rehemaa in 2006. Rehemaa also pulled off the feat in the same format: a 5K classical race and a 15K freestyle race.

"She's obviously an outstanding skier, and she just peaked at the right time," Stewart said.
NCAA Team Championships (all sports)

1. USC 73
2. UCLA 71
3. Stanford 58
4. Oklahoma State 48
5. Arkansas 43
6. Michigan 30
7. Penn State 29
8. Denver 27
9. Yale 25
10. Cal 24

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