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Swaffield leads PSC in GS and combined

WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - The captain of the Plymouth State College women's ski racing team had one of the best days of her career Monday, while the Panther men's team struggled through a difficult day at the Eastern Regional Championships, hosted by the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association at Waterville Valley.

Sophomore Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, N.H.) finished runner-up among the 77 skiers in Monday's women's giant slalom event, improving from sixth to second with the fastest time in the second run. Combined with her third place in Sunday's slalom, Swaffield also earns second place honors in the women's combined individual alpine results. She now advances as an individual to the USCSA National Championships on Mar. 13-16.

The Panther men, the five-time defending Eastern Regional combined champions, suffered several falls in Monday's giant slalom and finished in ninth place among the 16 teams. PSC had won five straight GS titles, and captured the slalom on Sunday, but Monday was a different story.

Colby-Sawyer College won the men's GS, ahead of runner-up Boston College and third-place UMass Amherst. Plymouth State also finished behind Clarkson, Green Mountain, New England College, Army and WPI.

PSC managed to finish fifth in the men's combined team standings behind CSC, BC, Clarkson and UMass, and qualified for the USCSA Nationals on Mar. 13-16. The top five teams in the combined advance to Nationals, and PSC slipped in just ahead of Green Mountain.

Sophomore Garrett Lashar (Kingfield, Maine) was PSC's top finisher in the GS, placing 10th, while freshman Tyler Barlow (South Burlington, Vt.) placed 26th. Senior Tim Mitchell (Ashland, Mass), the defending individual combined co-champion, was leading the GS after the first run but fell on his second run and did not finish. Senior E.J. Cheney (Bethel, Maine) also fell and was a DNF on Monday, while senior Jake Manseau (Henniker, N.H.) fell on his first run but finished the race, and then had a strong second run but finished 63rd overall.

In the men's combined individual results, Barlow tied for 12th, Manseau finished 14th, Lashar was 16th, Cheney was 19th, and Mitchell tied for 20th.

PSC will have home-mountain advantage at the Nationals, which this year are at Waterville Valley. The Panthers train daily at Waterville and race there at least twice every year. The Panther men have finished second at Nationals the past two years.