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Pulles places top-five, Kramer earns All-American for UAF Ski at NCAA Championships

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 8:32 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - University of Alaska Fairbanks Nordic Ski concluded their 2021 campaign placing 10th overall at the NCAA Skiing Championships in Jackson, New Hampshire over the weekend, matching the program’s best finish in history.

Estonian sophomore Mariel Pulles improved upon her 7th-place finish on day one by taking 5th overall in the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle race with a time of 39 minutes and 31.6 seconds, her best NCAA Championship placement.

“Snow conditions were so different in many places along the 5k loop, so it was a little bit frustrating but I am happy with my result,” Pulles said in a UAF press release.

Competing at her first collegiate championships, Fairbanks freshman Kendall Kramer, who also bested her opening day performance in the standings. At 40:04.2 in the 15k, Kramer earned All-American honors with an 8th-place finish out of 40 skiers and was the third-highest American female placement on the day.

“I felt really good and rested and ready to go today,” The West Valley High School graduate said. “The snow was really good and it felt effortless out there, which is always a rare feeling but cherished when it happens.”

The top five finishers earn First Team All-American honors, while the 6-10 finishers are tabbed Second Team.

Rounding out the Nanooks was Catherine Reed-Metayer, of St. Ferreol les Neiges, Quebec, placing 31st overall with a time of 43:50.4. The NCAA Championship events this weekend were the final collegiate competitions of her career, according to the program.

Former West Valley skier Maggie Whitaker, of The College of St. Scholastic, took 36th, checking in at 45:52.6.

On the men’s side, sophomores Mike Ophoff and Christopher Kalev paced the ‘Nooks with top-20 finishes once again. Ophoff placed 12th in the men’s 20k freestyle with a time of 49:51.2, while Kalev, of Tallinn, Estonia, took 14th at 50:23.3.

“I went from a flying start to flying through the first lap which was no good for my legs and I had to slow it down a little on the next one,” Ophoff, of Cista u Horek, Czech Republic, said. “Overall, I was surprised with the result.”

The Nanooks concluded their season by tallying 163 points at the NCAA Championships, while the University of Utah came out as National Champions.

Student-athletes who participated in this year’s Nordic Ski season do not lose a year of eligibility, per NCAA.

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