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Women's Nordic Second Place Finish Leads Harvard at Eastern Championships

Pictured: Cara Sprague had a career-best sixth place finish in the women's 5K classic event at the Eastern Championships (Lincoln Benedict)

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - In the six EISA ski weekend, the Eastern Championships hosted at Middlebury, Harvard finished ninth out of 17 participating schools.

It was a record-setting weekend for the Crimson's women Nordic team which placed second in the 5K Classic, holding off powerhouse Vermont

The host school received around two 2 feet of snow followed by heavy rain, which turned the tracks quite slick on Saturday. The conditions were further complicated by intermittent snow squalls that blew through during the races and added some fresh, sticky snow to the mix, making for a near impossible situation with which to wax for.

"Despite the conditions, I knew the women had the talent to finish in the top 5 on a classic day and they've been getting faster over the past few weeks," said head Nordic coach Chris City. "Even so, this was a very nice surprise.  It happened because Esther (Kennedy) and Alena (Tofte) continued their streak of very competitive classic performances and Cara popped a career race at just the right time.  Audrey (Mangan) had the misfortune to start in a snowstorm or she would have been up there, too.

After qualifying 32nd, Cara Sprague produced a career-best sixth place finish and fifth overall in qualifying points while Kennedy came from 53rd position to end up in 14th place. Tofte gave Harvard a trio of top-20 finishes with her 19th place time.

"Thanks to the great work of my assistant, Sara Cushman, and our wax tech Scott Broomhall, we had perhaps the best wax in the race," said City. "In the women's race, those who had early start times (it was an individual start race) fared better because there was little or no snow falling at that time."

On the men's side, Anthony Ryerson was flying from the start and had a season best 30th place finish. In the Mass start, the race was a demolition derby at the start as a combination of many skiers, narrow trails and the heavy, wet snow from the previous few days meant for a lot of damaged equipment.  Kevin Sprague broke a pole early in the race and skied from dead last up to his second-best placing of the year.  Trevor Petach finished his senior season with his best placing of the season in 36th.  In all, the trio combined for Harvard's best men's team points this season.

On the alpine slopes, Catherine Sheils once again led the way in alpine with an impressive eighth-place finish in a combined time of 1:36.90 while Tenley Malmquist finished in 26th position.

Chris Kinner placed 24th to lead the men yet again, this time posting a combined time of 1:39.16 to tie Bates' Alex Jones.

Sheils was 26th in the giant slalom while Kinner stayed remarkably consistent with a 26th place finish for the men.