Nordic Ski Takes Part in US Cross Country Championships
By Rachel Buck (@GBRachel)
SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay Nordic ski team had an opportunity to compete against top talent from across the United States as it traveled to Utah for the US Cross Country Championships to start the month of January.
The select team of junior Matt Nichols (Wausau, Wis.), senior Eddie Gurney (Brookfield, Wis.), junior Kailey Mucha (Soldotna, Alaska), freshman Bree Mucha (Soldotna, Alaska) and junior Hanne Guthrie (Chanhassen, Minn.) experienced a rewarding and exciting trip as they took to the course at Soldier Hollow – Midway, Utah, including another top podium finish for Nichols.
“Going into the trip I wanted the athletes to be focused on progressive pace and smart racing,” head coach Steve Teclaw said. “We know that training at essentially sea level presents a big challenge when having to race at nearly 6000 feet. I was very pleased with how the classic race went for everyone.”
It was an exciting sprint competition for the Phoenix. Nichols shone for the men, as he used his size and speed to his advantage with several big passes and maneuvers throughout the course. In the ‘A’ Final, Nichols held a good position throughout two-thirds of the race as he set the pace up front of the six-man pack. Nearing the end he was challenged by another competitor and fell into second place before he mounted a final push to overcome a 1.5 length gap to win the group.
For the women, Mucha had a great qualifying run finishing 41st, just narrowly missing advancement in the senior women’s field by 10 places.
Competing two days later in the 10K, Nichols finished just three spots out of advancing to a Junior World trip, but his efforts didn’t go unrecognized as he recorded the second-best finish for a Phoenix athlete in the event. Former Green Bay athlete Bryan Fish (current US Ski Team Development Coach) and Adam Swank were the only Phoenix to post a better finish than Nichols as they both served as alternates for the Junior World trip during their collegiate competitive careers at Green Bay.
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