Swaffield and Barlow lead PSU Skiers at Eastern Regionals

WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. - The Plymouth State University men's and women's ski teams qualified for the U.S Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association's National Championships Monday with top finishes in the giant slalom at the Eastern Regional Championships at Waterville Valley.

The Panther men finished third in Monday's GS and tied for second in the combined alpine scoring, while the PSU women enjoyed their best two days of the year with a fourth place in Monday's GS and a season-best third place in the combined. The top five schools in the combined advance to the USCSA Nationals, which this year are March 3-6 at Sugarloaf Mountain (Maine).

Senior Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, N.H.) provided the top performance for the Panthers, winning the women's GS Monday for her first victory of the season. A four-time All-America, Swaffield finished runner-up in the individual combined after her fifth place in Sunday's slalom. Sophomore Chantelle Heroux (Cooperstown, N.Y.) also completed a strong two-day event, combining her 10th place in the slalom with a 13th place in the GS to finish 13th in the combined.

(Swaffield, left)

The rest of the PSU women in Monday's GS, which included 85 skiers, were freshman Amelia Hough (Gloucester, Mass.) in 23rd, sophomore Kelsey Real (Lanesboro, Mass.) in 28th, and sophomore Kristina Hoch (China, Maine) in 34th. In the combined, Hoch placed 26th, Hough 27th, junior Jessica Bouchard (Temple, Maine) 31st, and Real 33rd.

PSU had three of the top nine placers among the 85 skiers in Monday's men's GS -- junior Tyler Barlow (South Burlington, Vt.) in fourth, sophomore Matt Prendergast (Westminster, Mass.) in seventh and freshman Topher Harlow (North Conway, N.H.) in ninth. Senior Garrett Lashar (Kingfield, Maine) was a solid 18th, and the Panthers overcame a fall by sophomore Rob Kiely (New London, N.H.).

Harlow, who won Sunday's slalom, and Barlow were the top Panthers in the men's combined, Harlow placing second and Barlow seventh. The rest of the PSU skiers in the combined included Prendergast in 13th, Lashar in 15th, sophomore Skip Bartlett (Silver Lake, N.H.) in 18th, and junior Chad Demetry (Francestown, N.H.) in 26th.

UMass won the men's team combined, one point ahead of Boston College and PSU, which tied for second. Colby-Sawyer placed fourth, and Clarkson fifth. Brown University nipped BC for the women's team combined title, with PSU third, Colby-Sawyer fourth, and UMass fifth. There were 16 teams in the competition.

The Panther men placed second at the Nationals in 2000 and 2001, and have finished fifth the last two years. The PSU women were third in 2001 and tied for sixth last season. Both Panther teams are led by 17th-year head coach Kim Bownes.

(From Left: Matt Prendergast, Garrett Lashar, Tyler Barlow, Topher Harlow, Rob Kiely)

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