Panther Teams qualify for Nationals

WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - Plymouth State College's men's and women's skiing teams qualified for the U.S. Collegiate Snowsport Association's National Championships Monday by placing in the top five in the combined alpine at the Eastern Regional Championships at Waterville Valley.

The Panther men's team placed fourth out of 15 schools in the combined, while the Panther women finished fifth. The National Championships are scheduled for Mar. 5-8 at Lake Tahoe, Cal.

The PSC men also placed fourth in the giant slalom Monday, while the Panther women were also fifth in Monday's GS. It was the same placement as Sunday's slalom for both teams.

Junior Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, N.H.) had an excellent two-day performance for the Panthers. After placing second in the slalom on Sunday, she came back with a second place (among 75 skiers) in the GS and finished second in the combined. It matched her success of a year ago, when she was second in the combined. Swaffield has been a model of consistency this winter, finishing in the top six in 11 of the 12 alpine races (six slalom, six GS).

Three other Panther women, all freshmen, placed in the top 26 in Monday's GS. Chantelle Heroux (Cooperstown, N.Y.) finished 16th, and Kristy Hoch (China, Maine) and Kelsey Real (Lanesboro, Mass.) were 25th and 26th, respectively. Hoch also earned a 21st place in the combined based on her 15th place in Sunday's slalom.

Sophomore Tyler Barlow (South Burlington, Vt.) set the pace for the Panther men, finishing eighth in the GS (among 75 skiers) and placing 7th in the combined alpine. Barlow has placed in the top 10 in all 12 races this season. The rest of the Panther men's contingent in Monday's GS included junior Garrett Lashar (Kingfield, Maine) in 20th, freshman Rob Kiely (New London, N.H.) in 24th, and junior Brent Grygiel (Windham, Maine) in 28th.

The Panther men finished fifth at both the regionals and nationals last year. The PSC women advanced to the nationals this season after failing to qualify for the regionals as a team a year ago.