Palmer-Leger and Hendry Wins in Nordic Classic Help Extend Utah's Lead at RMISA Invitational

Monday, January 18, 2021 • by Ron Knabenbauer, Special To RMISA

MIDWAY, Utah—The Utah Utes lengthened thier lead considerably in the Nordic classical races at the RMISA Invitational on Monday and picked up two more individual wins as Sydney Palmer-Leger won the women's 15 kilometer and Sam Hendry won the men's 20K at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center.

Holding a 16-point advantage over Alaska Anchorage following the freestyle events on Sunday, Utah placed two skiers on the podium in both the women's and men's classic races and won each team event by at least 28 points. UU now has a total of 394 points with the Nordic portion complete at the RMISA Invitational, and the university recorded at least 100 points in three of the four Nordic races over the past two days, including in both competitions on Monday.

Utah's three 100-point races matches the most in the Nordic portion of a meet under the current point system, a feat it also accomplished at the 2020 Colorado Invitational where it earned 421 points (out of a possible 444). The Utes' 394 points are their most since that RMISA-record performance at Colorado, and the school now holds each of the six highest Nordic point totals for a meet, with five coming in the past two seasons.

"Definitely a testament to a lot of hard work by these student athletes over the past two-three seasons," said Utah head Nordic coach Miles Havlick. "A lot of training and hard work with us but also when they are alone, training in the dark and rain. Pretty amazing to see how they have fun together and push each other day in and day out, and certainly rewarding for us to experience as coaches."

After placing third in Sunday's women's 5K freestyle race in her RMISA debut, Palmer-Leger won her first career race in the 15K classic event in a time of 40 minutes and 53.3 seconds. It marked the second straight day that a Utah freshman won their first career race after Novie McCabe picked up the victory in the women's competition on Sunday.

Utah didn't have a podium sweep like it had in the freestyle race, but the Utes again dominated the leaderboard for the second straight day. Led by Palmer-Leger's win and McCabe's third-place finish in a time of 41:11.0, Utah once again placed four skiers in the top five and six in the top 10 to win the women's team event with 105 points. Julia Richter was also in a scoring position for the Utes in fourth, while Maria Bredal was fifth, Karianne Moe in sixth and Abigail Jarzin in 10th.

Rookie Astrid Stav of Alaska Anchorage broke up Utah's pack at the top by earning her first career podium with a second-place finish (41:01.1), coming in 7.8 seconds behind Palmer-Leger and 10.9 seconds ahead of McCabe. UAA finished second with 74 points, eight ahead of the third-place Colorado (66).

In the men's 20K race, Hendry won for the third time in his career after edging Montana State's Zanden McMullen in a sprint to the finish. Wearing the No. 1 bib, Hendry crossed the line one second before McMullen in a time of 52:26.0. The Utah sophomore's previous two victories came when he won both Nordic races at the 2020 Colorado Invitational.

Utah's Ola Jordheim came in third place, as the school finished with three skiers in the top five and four in the top 10. Luke Jager joined his UU teammates in fifth and Bjorn Riksaasen finished in eighth as the school picked up 103 points in the men's classic event.

After winning the 10K freestyle on Sunday, Alaska Anchorage finished second with 75 team points as Sigurd Roenning took sixth place and J.C. Schoonmaker took seventh-their second consecutive top 10 results in as many days. Montana State was just one point behind the Seawolves in third (74 points) with help from McMullen's career-best finish and Eli Hermanson's 10th-place result.

Next up for the Nordic skiers is the completion of the University of Denver Invitational next weekend at Maloit Park in Minturn, Colorado. The women's 5K freestyle and men's 7.5K freestyle races are Friday, Jan. 22, with the women's 7.5K classic and men's 10K classic races set for Saturday, Jan. 23.

The RMISA Invitational at Utah resumes with the women's alpine skiers competing in two giant slalom races on Feb. 11 at Park City Resort. Two men's giant slalom races will be held the following day on Feb. 12 to conclude the meet.

RMISA Invitational at Utah Team Results (Through 4 of 8 events): 1. Utah (394), 2. Alaska Anchorage (319), 3. Colorado (288), 4. Montana State (262), 5. Alaska Fairbanks (218), 6. Denver (203)

Team Notes: Utah recorded at least 100 points in three of the four Nordic races at the RMISA Invitational, averaging 98.5 points per race for a grand total of 394 ... Heading into the Alpine portion of the meet, the Utes have a 75-point lead over second-place Alaska Anchorage and are 106 points ahead of Colorado in third ... Utah placed four skiers in the top five and six in the top 10 in each of the two women's Nordic races at the RMISA Invitational ... UU's 394 points were the second most under the current point system in RMISA history, trailing only the 421 points that the school earned at the 2020 CU Invitational ... In the last five meets (last four in 2020 and the 2021 RMISA Invite), Utah's Nordic team has picked up five of the top six Nordic point totals under the current format ... The school also now holds the top six spots, with the record prior to last year was the Utes' 2016 RMISA Championship with 388 points ... Both races on Monday were held with mass starts.

Most Points Earned in Nordic Competition
421 - Utah, 2020 CU Invitational
394 - Utah, 2021 RMISA Invitational at Utah
391 - Utah, 2020 DU Invitational
388 - Utah, 2016 RMISA Championships
387 - Utah, 2020 Utah Invitational
376 - Utah, 2020 RMISA Championships

Women's Classic Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Sydney Palmer-Leger, UU, 40:53.3; 2. Astrid Stav, UAA, 41:01.1; 3. Novie McCabe, UU, 41:11.0; 4. Julia Richter, UU, 41:32.2; 5. Mariah Bredal, UU, 41:52.0; 6. Karianne Moe, UU, 42:23.0; 7. Sophia Mazzoni, MSU, 42:24.6; 8. Vera Norli, DU, 42:32.8; 9. Mariel Pulles, UAF, 42:48.8; 10. Abigail Jarzin, UU, 43:39.3

Women's Classic Team Results: 1. Utah (105), 2. Alaska Anchorage (74), 3. Colorado (66), 4. Montana State (62), 5. Alaska Fairbanks (60), 6. Denver (54)

Women's Individual Notes: Utah freshmen Sydney Palmer-Leger and Novie McCabe now both have two career podiums and a win each in their first two career races ... UAA rookie Astrid Stav now has two top-five finishes after her first two races (finished fifth in Sunday's freestyle), including picking up her first podium on Monday ... UU senior Maria Bredal finished fifth and now has eight career top-five finishes after posting two at the RMISA Invitational (finished fourth in Sunday's 5K freestyle) ... Bredal has placed inside the top 10 in 15 straight races dating back to the 2019 RMISA Championships ... Julia Richter of Utah opened the Nordic season with two top-five finishes and now has 11 such results in her career (finished fourth in Monday's classic after coming in second in Sunday's freestyle) ... Vera Norli was the highest-placed University of Denver skier in either event on Monday with an eighth-place finish, while Mariel Pulles finished in the best position for the Alaska Fairbanks Ski Team in ninth.

Men's Classic Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Sam Hendry, UU, 52:26.9; 2. Zanden McMullen, MSU, 52:27.9; 3. Ola Jordheim, UU, 52.38.1; 4. Magnus Boee, CU, 53.23.2; 5. Luke Jager, UU, 54.10.2; 6. Sigurd Roenning, UAA, 54.31.5; 7. J.C. Schoonmaker, UAA, 54:52.0; 8. Bjorn Riksaasen, UU, 55:09.2; 9. Espen Persen, UAA, 55:12.6; 10. Eli Hermanson, MSU, 55:14.8

Men's Classic Team Results: 1. Utah (103), 2. Alaska Anchorage (75), 3. Montana State (74), 4. Colorado (69), 5. Alaska Fairbanks (51), 6. Denver (49)

Men's Individual Notes: Utah's Sam Henry now has three wins and five podium results in only seven career races ... He has five career top-five results and has never finished lower than sixth in his career (finished sixth in the men's 10K freestyle on Sunday) ... MSU's Zanden McMullen's second-place result was his career-best result in any discipline and his first-ever podium (previous best was fourth on Sunday in 10K freestyle and at the 2020 DU Invitational classic) - has five total finishes between fourth and sixth in his career ... He now has five career top-five finishes ... Ola Jordheim of Utah has now podiumed in three different seasons and has five in his career following his third-place result ... Jordheim had two third-place finishes in 2019 and a first and a third finish at the 2020 RMISA Championships ... Colorado's Magnus Boee came in fourth place and finished the meet with two top-five finishes after winning Sunday's freestyle race ... Boee has nine career top-five finishes, with five coming in classic races ... The Utes' Luke Jager picked up his sixth career top-five finish in just eight career races.

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