While most students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are looking forward to spring, members of the Phoenix Nordic ski team are the exception. Two of the team’s skiers are preparing for the biggest meet of winter — the 2009 NCAA Ski Championships, March 11-14 in Rumford, Maine.
Santi Ocariz (photo above), a junior from Spooner, Wis., and Carolyn Freeman, a sophomore from Ely, Minn., qualified for the national championship by virtue of their points standings through the regular season of Central Collegiate Ski Association competition. Nine men’s skiers and 11 women’s skiers from the Central Region advanced to the championships.
For Freeman (photo, far left), it will be a first-time experience, but it will be Ocariz’s third consecutive trip to nationals.
“Both Carolyn and Santi are very excited about making it to the championship,” said Coach Butch Reimer. “They both are in excellent shape and it will be exciting to see them ski against the best in the country. I’m very proud of them both.”
Ocariz heads into the championships as the winner of the 15K freestyle race at the Central Region Championship at the Michigan Tech Trails in Houghton on March 1. He finished 11 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer in the 64-athlete field.
“Santi works hard and trains very hard,” Reimer said. “He is totally committed to be the best. He has a great work ethic and a great deal of natural talent.”
Freeman finished 11th in her field of 65 racers, and her continued hard work all season has paid off.
“Carolyn is a great student athlete,” Reimer said. “She was one of the top skiers all year in our region.”
Nordic events will be held March 12 and 14 at Black Mountain. The men’s 10-kilometer and women’s five-kilometer classical cross-country races will be conducted March 12. The women’s 15-kilometer and men’s 10-kilometer freestyle races will be held March 14.
— Story by student Rachel Rivard, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication Office, UW-Green Bay