Athletes to spend spring break at NCAA Championships

by Max Kanefield | 3/6/16 6:30pm

The next week will be a big one for Big Green track and field and ski teams, as both teams head to the NCAA championship races hunting for strong results. The Big Green track and field team is closing one its top seasons historically after the men’s best finish in the five years at Ivy League’s Indoor Heptagonal Championship. On the slopes, the Big Green Ski team will head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where the University of Colorado will host the NCAA Skiing Championship.

Dartmouth track and field completed its season with a third place finish in men’s and women’s indoor Heps, the team’s best results since 2011. They did it behind a host of strong individual and team performances, headlined by Joe Chapin ’16, Justin Donawa ’19, Kaitlin Whitehorn ’16 and Helen Schlachtenhaufen ’17. These four athletes represented Dartmouth’s All-Ivy League contingency. Chapin took the 5000-meter race, cruising to a comfortable seven second win over the field. Donawa, a two-sport athlete who also plays in the midfield for Big Green men’s soccer, made Second Team All-Ivy with a strong triple jump showing. On the women’s side, it was Schlachtenhaufen and Whitehorn who led the way. In the first race of the day on the track, Schlachtenhaufen managed to win the mile, finishing just 14-hundreths of a second ahead of the second place finisher.

For Whitehorn, it was a continuation of an already stellar career that now leads the senior to the NCAA Championships later this week. She notched a win in the high jump at the Ivy league Championship, adding that to wins in the event in both her freshman and junior years. Not only did she grab the high jump title, but she also set a new school record in the process with a 1.84-meter high jump that now stands as Dartmouth’s highest mark. The jump was also Whitehorn’s highest of her career.

With her top finish, Whitehorn is set to head down to Birmingham, Alabama as Dartmouth’s lone representative in the 2016 Indoor Track and Field Championships. This marks the high jumper’s second invitation to nationals. Last spring, she accepted an invitation to the 2015 Outdoor Track and Field Championship, where she placed 12th in the high jump. This year, she’ll hunt for a better result in one of her last chances to compete in the NCAA National Championship event.

While Whitehorn heads down to represent the Big Green in Birmingham, the Dartmouth ski team will head west to Colorado to face off with the country’s top ski programs. The team wrapped up its most successful carnival season in years last weekend. It shattered the 22-carnival win streak of its rival the University of Vermont, finished no lower than second place overall in any carnival and won back-to-back carnivals after being shut out from the top overall spot over their previous three years.

The team will send 12 skiers to the NCAA Championsips held from March 9 to 12. The 12 are at the top of their game right now and plan to turn in strong finishes.

On the Alpine side, standout freshman Alexa Dlouhy ’19 and Foreste Peterson ’18 hold the top women’s individual event rankings in slalom and giant slalom, respectively. With three skiers — Dlouhy, Peterson and Kelly Moore ’18 — all ranked within the top five for the slalom, the Big Green seem poised for big finishes in the Alpine discipline.

Lydia Blanchet ’19, Mary O’Connell ’16 and Corey Stock ’16 will be competing at the NCAA Championships representing the women’s Nordic team.

On the men’s side, the Nordic and Alpine teams look to cap off a resurgent season with the help of several key contributors. Nordic captain Oscar Friedman ’16 will compete for the first time at the NCAA Championships. He has enjoyed a consistently strong season so far, currently ranked sixth among the field of EISA NCAA qualifiers. His teammate, Fabian Stocek ’17 holds the fourth ranking spot, finished up this season with another top four finish at the EISA Regionals.

In addition to strong regular season performances that bode well for the Big Green team, the return of Patrick Caldwell ’17 ought to provide a huge boost. Caldwell won the NCAA Championship last year, finishing first in the 10K Freestyle to earn a national title. He has spent most of this season with the U.S. national team training, leaving him away during most of the regular season carnivals.

Despite his prolonged absences, he returned to the team to earn enough points to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but will not compete. While away from the team, he placed third in the World Under-23 Ski Championship in Rasnov, Romania in February. His finish should give him and his Dartmouth teammates some confidence heading into the Championship.

Dartmouth’s third Nordic skier will be Callan DeLine ’18, who worked his way back from a back surgery and is now headed to his first NCAA Championship.

In the Alpine disciplines, the Dartmouth team looks to Kevyn Read ’18, Brian McLaughlin ’18 and Thomas Woolson ’17. In the EISA Regionals, the Big Green Alpine men put together one of their top slalom performances that should generate momentum heading into the NCAA Championship events. McLaughlin, Read and Woolson finished third, fourth and seventh, respectively.

At the NCAAs, the Dartmouth team will face off against more than its top local competition. Western powerhouses like last year’s overall champion Colorado as well as programs like the University of New Mexico will race with Dartmouth and its East Coast counterparts. But Dartmouth should prove ready to hold its own. The Big Green have earned sixth place finishes in their last two NCAA Championships and seem poised to make another showing at this year’s races.

Correction appended (March 7, 2016):

This article originally stated that Patrick Caldwell '17 would be competing in the NCAA Championships. Caldwell qualified but will not be competing. In addition, the article only included three skiers of the 12 that will be competing for Dartmouth in the NCAA Championships. The article has been updated to include this information.